Scruffy Nerf-herders

Hello friends and faithful readers. Yes, I’m still alive. Once again, it’s been a while. We all know how life can sometimes grab hold of you like a wild dog and just shake and shake and shake until you’re either dead or so rattled that you can’t think straight. Such a thing has sort of happened to me the past couple months. It’s been a lot of up and down, with a few really bad days sprinkled about where I just wanted to curl up under the blankets of my bed and retreat from the world. Or maybe say “Screw it all!” pack a few things in my car and head off to live in a tent in the woods in the middle of nowhere. Somedays, being a predominately cheery optimist isn’t enough to deal with the world.

That being said…I’m back. I had put the majority of my sewing/crafting/costuming products on the back burner of late and thought to myself recently “Perhaps that’s why I’m feeling so out of sorts and unable to deal with all of this foolishness.” After all, I’ve written before about how sitting down to my machine and sewing for a while always seems to make my brain quiet down…or, at least, makes it more likely that I can put my million-and-one thoughts in some semblance of order.

The same goes for writing here in blogging land. The post topics don’t always come easily – sometimes I sit here and have to browse through ideas before I really feel compelled to write – but sitting down and making myself write something tends to have the same effect as sitting down to my sewing machine. At the end of both ventures, I’m bound to have something to show for my time. Now, whether that something will be anything I’d be proud to show people is another story all together. ūüôā

Suffice it to say, it was time to get back to work.

And so I have.

First off, I’ve been working on a Civil War-era corset for a friend of a friend who is now a friend. (Try saying that three times fast) Hesa works down in the Richmond area, doing all sorts of history-related presentations, as well as spending part of her free time at conventions and creating awesome anime costumes. Basically, I want to steal her life.

Yes, I realize that sounds kind of creepy.

Anyway, as part of her job, she is occasionally required to dress in period costume. In order to do this comfortably (and be period-correct) she needed a corset. Currently, she’s using one that also doubles as part of her new Renn Fest wear. She’s told me it’s not the most historically accurate piece for her work, and wanted one that actually fit the period she deals with at work.

So…corset work.

This is not the first corset I have made. It is, however, the first time I will be incorporating a front-closing busk into a piece. It’s also the first time I’ve ever tried to do an honest-to-goodness Civil War era corset. My previous pieces have fallen into the category of Elizabethan-style bodies (they weren’t really called corsets at that point), Regency-era corded stays, and what I would classify as costumey corsets.

What is the difference between the costumey corset and what I might consider an actual corset? Simple. History. The corset I’m making for Hesa is based on the kinds that are documented as being used in that period. The blue and gold corset I originally made to go with my steampunk outfit (and which, subsequently, got paired with other items for outings to Fairie Fest) is not exactly linked to a particular point of time in history. Neither were the original corsets Maggie and I made when we first started out doing our costuming.

Looking back at the stuff I made way back then…part of me cringes.

But then, that’s the point of doing this stuff – both the costuming itself, and the blogging about it. One has to start somewhere and, with luck and hard work, it is possible to improve in skill and knowledge and ultimately turn out better products.

Of course, that’s what I’m saying now, before I’m finished with the corset I’m currently working on. We’ll see how well this turns out in the end.

Anyway, before I head off again to my work space – where the alterations to the pattern for Hesa’s corset await – I should probably explain the heading for this post.

If you are, in truth, a Star Wars fan I probably don’t have to point this out to you, but, in case you haven’t noticed what day it is, or in case things have slipped your mind…

It’s Intergalactic Star Wars Day today!

All day long, I have been telling friends “May the Fourth be with you!” It’s the first day in weeks where¬†I haven’t had to inquire about the date as I write a check or try to put a freshness sticker on a newly-made pitcher of iced tea at work.

In a massive turn of the ironic screw, I will tell you all that I –¬†who regularly dresses as a Jedi, built a lightsaber out of bits from the plumbing aisle, often quotes the original trilogy, and frequently giggles at the Jawa bobblehead in my bookcase – don’t own any Star Wars movies.

Shocking, I know.

Technically, they are in the house I live in. We’ve got old VHS versions my mother taped off of HBO back when I was about three. My brother has all 6 movies, I believe (though I’d only be interested in watching A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, or Return of the Jedi). But as for myself…I only have Star Wars-related videos. I’ve got the first season of Chad Vader on dvd, as well as Fanboys.

I think I might just have to pilfer one of the original movies from¬†my brother’s collection, while I work on Hesa’s corset.

The perils of blogging (or, “Meg’s a creepy creeper”)

When I started blogging (two years ago! Still can’t believe it!), I hunted around a bit for other, similar blogs. I was looking for writings out in the great wide world of the interwebs that dealt with costumes and sewing and all the other manner of sub-topics I like to write about here. The idea being, looking at what other people wrote might offer jumping off points for my own entries and, if I found a particularly helpful site or blog post elsewhere, I could post a link to it here, thus expanding other people’s readership.

Now, a couple of the blogs I follow already have links from this page. You can see them over there in the Blogroll to the right. Some blogs, however, are not run through WordPress. The few that I read that are based in Blogger are not listed in the same place. This is a failing on my part, and I’m looking into other ways to remedy this.

One of the blogs I really enjoy is “Music, Corsets and Star Wars,” written by Amber Mendenhall. I am in complete awe of this young woman. She currently lives in Ohio (YES! Ohio rocks!) and is in school for historic costume and American history. Oh yeah…and she designs awesome Star Wars amigurumi. She’s even starting to publish her own patterns for people to use. Read the blog, check out the stuff she makes…she’s just all-around awesome.

In a recent post, she mentioned that she’s going to be working at Colonial Williamsburg during the summer.

Williamsburg is about a four-hour drive away.

I will admit that it is more than a little creepy and stalker-esque that I am thinking of traveling down to Williamsburg at some point during the summer, just to go to the shop and tell her “I read your blog, and I think you’re awesome!”

I know, I know. I’m really weird. I’m kind of worried about freaking her out.

But then, the other part of me – the one that decided one day that I would start a blog about what I love to do in my own spare time – thinks that she might get a kick out of it. I mean, I’d be all kinds of excited if someone spotted me at a convention somewhere and said “I read your blog.” They could even follow it up with the comment “I think it’s absolute codswallop!” I’d just smile, nod, and respond “But you do read it.” Obviously, I want people to get some sort of enjoyment out of reading this thing, but ultimately, my main joy comes just from doing it for myself.

Well, and for¬†Maggie, but that’s not so much “joy” as “self-preservation,” as I hear about it when I go too long without writing a new entry.

Anyway…I’m seriously thinking about being a creepy blog-stalker this summer.

And do check out her blog. It really is pretty cool.

Shiny People! – Farpoint 2011

It is official…Farpoint is awesome. I know, I know. I declared it such last year when it came time to write up my con reports about it. It could have been a fluke. It could have been an awesome con last year, simply because all the stars and planets aligned to make it so (haha…didja get the not-so-clever Star Trek reference there?). I do not believe that was the case, though. Once again, the folks who put together Farpoint planned and ran a wonderful con. There were fantabulous guests (quit sneering. That is a real word, for the purposes of this post). There were costumes! There were dealers with wonderful wares to tempt me with. There were awesome fellow fans to talk to. And talk to them I did.

At one point, fairly early on in the con, I remarked to Maggie that Farpoint is more of a “chat with people” convention than many of the others we go to. Maggie’s response was “Yeah…I don’t really do that. That’s your job.” Maggie really doesn’t do “chatty” at conventions, except to people in whatever group we put together to go with. My labeling of Farpoint as the “chat with people” con is not to say I don’t chat with people at Polaris or Dragon*Con or Shore Leave. It’s just…I talk to what seems like EVERYONE at Farpoint. And I absolutely love it. I’m talking LOVE. If I could somehow make those letters shimmer and dance about, I would, just to try to get my point across.

Now, before I get much farther into the actual con day…some lead up. The

Best. Scarf. Ever.

¬†night before the convention, Maggie and I retired to our respective houses to prepare. She wanted to take her Sith costume to Farpoint again this year, minus the wig which, she claims, makes her feel like she’s burning up. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to take to Farpoint this year. Part of me wanted to take the Blink Angel again, but I need to make new sleeves. There was my Jedi stuff…but it’s gotten rather big and I haven’t had time to take it in or make new items. I didn’t want to take Kowl, as he really needs other She-Ra characters around him for context. I didn’t want to wear my Popple, either, as I’m still not 100% happy with it. Though, now that I think of it, there would probably be a number of people at Farpoint who would know what I was.

After looking through my choices, I decided I’d just go with my Kaylee costume. It’s uber-comfortable, it was clean, and I’ve only had one opportunity to wear the “new” version of the coveralls since I put the whole thing together. Also, the costume has the most important thing for comfortable convention attendance. POCKETS! There are pockets everywhere on that friggin’ jumpsuit. There are so many, I have a tendency to forget about half of them. I pulled out my Kaylee shirt (not film accurate, but something I can imagine her having in her dresser, or wherever she keeps her clothes on that ship), my altered flightsuit, and my boots. Honestly, the boots might need to be replaced. Or, at the very least, repaired in strategic places with some sort of sealant.

Late in the evening I got a text from Maggie, saying she couldn’t find half of her stuff, and the stuff that she could find didn’t really fit right, and that her red contacts that she purchased at Dragon*Con were apparently not completely sealed. One of the contacts had dried out and kind of shriveled up. I advised her to go ahead and soak the lens over night in a crap-load of solution, and hope that it would be rehydrated the next morning. Luckily, it worked.

We set out on Saturday morning – after a brief stop at the coffee shop for caffeine and breakfast – and wound up getting to the Crowne Plaza a little after 10am. There was only one panel I wanted to attend at that time and it had already started, so we opted to check out the dealer space instead.

As usual, there was a nice assortment of booths at Farpoint. The first had some excellent t-shirts. Maggie picked out one that read “Real Tears Excite Me.” I didn’t get one, but I saw several I liked. Among my favorites were: “Support your local medical examiner…die strangely,” “Bondage Instructor: Let me show you the ropes,” and a shirt that depicted about 20 sci-fi weapons with the phrase “Celebrate Diversity” written underneath.

There were two steampunk booths I fell in love with. The first we came to was Got Steam? There were two parts to the booth – corsets, and assorted steampunk merchandise. There were so many lovely items. Of course, there was a pith helmet, which I love, but I’m of the mind that Tesla wouldn’t wear one. Like me, she finds hats fun, but she has yet to find one that’s practical enough for her to wear. There were, however, some lovely face shields that I think go nicely with her character. And there was a belt with places for test tubes, and many other lovely items. I picked up a card and, if I ever get money, I can definitely see some of it going to this business.

The other booth was Lady Heather’s Fashions. My attention was first drawn to the booth by the sight of a really frilly, fluffy skirt that was displayed above the booth itself. Normally, I’m not one for frilly and fluffy things. I’m clumsy and they tend to get snagged. That being said, I was very much drawn to the skirt. When Maggie and I swung by Lady Heather’s, I was drawn to a number of other items within the booth. Namely, functional tool belts, of the sort that Tesla would most definitely wear during her travels. Lady Heather herself was at the booth, working on a new piece, and mentioned that she also does custom work. Again, when I get money…

Amongst the usual items one finds at sci-fi/fantasy conventions are groups selling patches. Starbase Atlanta – the largest vendor at Dragon*Con – had a booth at Farpoint. I was on the lookout for a very specific Jurassic Park patch that I had seen down in Atlanta the previous year. Heather has plans for a Jurassic Park costume and, when she told me, we had tried to find the patch. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to locate it at second time at Dragon*Con. Fortunately, Starbase Atlanta had one to sell at Farpoint! I called Heather and she chose the “Park Ranger” patch.

The other patch I was on the lookout for was one for my Rebecca Chambers costume. It’s the black and white “S.T.A.R.S. Raccoon Pol. Dept.” patch she wears on the arm of her t-shirt. The guy who ran the booth pulled out his boxes of patches and told me he’d sold out of that specific one. He had the other two versions (one is blue, the other olive green) but not the one I needed. He said I could order it online. I decided to see if I could find it at one of the other two booths also selling patches.

The first one I came to after Starbase Atlanta had the blue and green patches, but not the black one. The booth opposite from them had one hanging up on their patch board. I asked the vendor if he had one in stock. He didn’t but asked if I wanted the one off the board. That wasn’t even something the guy at the first booth had offered, and I jumped at the opportunity. Two patches in hand, Maggie and I moved on through the vendors.

I had gotten a couple of smiles and nods and people going “Hey! Kaylee!” by that point. I’d seen a really nicely done Mal costume when I was over near Starbase Atlanta. Unfortunately, every time I saw him, Maggie was nowhere to be seen, so I didn’t get a picture with him. I did, however, see someone dressed as Wash. We were both heading in opposite directions when we passed the first time, so I didn’t stop to talk right then. I did make a point of tracking him down later and getting a picture, though. His name was easy enough to remember – Josh. I actually wrote down the note “Josh is the Wash I saw” in my con notes.

At one point I was stopped by the women who ran a booth with chainmail jewelry and sci-fi buttons and asked about my coveralls. They wanted to know whether I had made them myself from a pattern, or gotten them from someplace specific. My Kaylee 2.0 costume, as I sometimes refer to it, is made from a U.S. Air Force flight suit – olive green. It took some altering. Kaylee’s suit doesn’t have sleeves, and has rather large pockets just below the waist. While the flightsuit I bought had a multitude of pockets, as I’ve already mentioned, those big ones were missing. Since I needed to take the sleeves off anyway, I just cut them open and used the fabric to create the missing pockets. They turned out nicely, if I do say so myself.

It turns out one of the women at the booth has been trying to make a Star Trek: Enterprise uniform for a few years now. So far, she’s been unable to find a pattern or an existing uniform that matches the look. I told her about Unique – the thrift store on Gallows Road where I got my flightsuit – and suggested she try there.

A little later in the day, I actually spotted a gentleman sporting a ST:Enterprise jumpsuit. I hurried over to him and asked how he’d made his. He said it was a US Navy jumpsuit that he had just added the needed patches to on the shoulder. I pointed him in the direction of the ladies at the booth and told him they would be interested in how he’d made his costume.

Look at me. Connecting costumers, one person at a time.

As we circled back to the front of the dealer’s room, Maggie and I encountered a guy wearing a Browncoats t-shirt and carrying a bunch of photography equipment. He introduced himself – Steve Guminski – and asked if we had been at Dragon*Con in 2010. When I told him we were, he explained that he had been the official photographer of the Whedon track last year and wondered if he had taken a picture of me there. I don’t remember him from Dragon*Con, though, and I remember most¬†of the situations at that con when people stopped me for a picture.

On a sidenote – I rarely get stopped for photos at Dragon*Con, unless I’m already doing an interesting pose for my own fun. Throughout the day at Farpoint, though, people kept asking me for photos, and commenting on the costume. One of my favorite moments was when some Battlestar: Gallactica people seated a few tables away from Maggie and I in the lobby shouted over the crowd “Great Kaylee!” I joked to Maggie that I’ve certainly found the place for my Kaylee costume.

Anyhoo, Steve asked if he could take a picture of me now, since he hadn’t gotten me at Dragon*Con. I agreed and Maggie and I posed together. While he was snapping a picture, I noticed a Jawa and a Tusken Raider walking past the masquerade registration table, behind Steve. I went “Tusken Raider! Tusken Raider!” through my teeth, and I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of the pictures he took of me looks a little crazed.

I was so excited to see them, I dashed off as soon as he finished a few shots, desperately trying to catch up with the two costumed con-goers. Apparently, Steve remarked as I rushed off “Wow. She’s definitely excitable like Kaylee.” Maggie shook her head and replied “You have no idea.”

Of course, I didn’t hear any of that. It was only later, after I’d taken my pictures of the two Star Wars characters and Maggie and I were talking about random fandom things that she told me about his reaction. I will admit that, out of all of the characters I dress as, Kaylee is the closest to my own personality. Perhaps that’s why people don’t mind sitting down and chatting with me at conventions.

Speaking of…the next random stranger I talked to was a guy carrying a big silver case and wearing a jacket that said “Forensics” across the back. When he turned around and talked with me, I noticed he had a CSI badge on the front. It turns out he was in charge of doing the makeup for a few of his friends that evening, and that’s what was in the silver case. He told Maggie and I a story about being in a convenience store once, while wearing his jacket, and a guy came up to him and said “My wife loves that show! You’re the real thing, aren’t you?” and proceeded to talk to him about forensic science. The makeup guy isn’t actually a criminal investigator, but he figured he’d just let the other guy talk to him about it.

Cookies!

Halfway through the day, Maggie mentioned she’d heard Girl Scouts were selling cookies at the convention. Sure enough, I spotted a flyer on one of the walls that said “Come to the Dark Side…we have Girl Scout cookies.” There was a number to call, which I did, and I was directed to a room where the cookies were available. Since Maggie was the one who really wanted the cookies, I sent her along without me and went to grab some water.

I can only imagine what it was like for the woman selling the cookies to poke her head out of her hotel room and see Maggie, in her Sith costume, with her bright red eyes and makeup, standing in the hallway with her lightsaber. I imagine it’s going to be one of those stories that gets included in Girl Scout cookie-selling lore.

While Maggie was off shaking down Girl Scouts for her Samoa fix, I took the opportunity to chat up a kilted Stormtrooper and, in the process, check an item off my convention “to-do” list.

If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that I have had the deep-seated desire to try on a Stormtrooper helmet for some time. The last time I spoke to a contingent of Stormtroopers (Dragon*Con 2009), I was covered in zombie makeup and fake blood that was dripping everywhere. Not a situation where random strangers would be willing to let me try on their helmet.

This time, however, I was free of goopy fake blood and apparently looked disarming enough that, when I asked the kilted trooper if I could try on his helmet, he took it off and offered it to me without question. He did say it might not fit because he has a small head. I didn’t think there’d be a problem. My head looks a lot bigger than it actually is, because my hairs rather poofy and uncontrollable most of the time.

When he handed it to me, I noticed it was actually a bit bigger than the other helmets I’ve seen (stop giggling and get your mind out of the gutter). He explained that his helmet is actually an FX helmet, and is made a bit bigger than the ones in the regular kits. That way, you can put fans and voice boxes inside it and still have enough room for your head.

Despite forgetting my digital recorder at home, I conducted a short interview with the kilted trooper – whose name, by the by, is Anthony. He bought the suit from a guy overseas and ended up spending a number of months cutting it down to the right size, as the previous owner was about 6’5″ and he is 5’8″. He had a friend help him. “Basically, I was a living mannequin while he worked on the stuff,” he said. “I didn’t want to do it myself and mess it up, since it was so expensive.”

Now, despite not being able to try on the helmets of the troopers I interviewed at Dragon*Con, I had been granted a glimpse inside two of their helmets. I remember the visors on both of the helmets I looked inside being light blue. Anthony’s visor, however, was green. And¬†a fairly dark green at that. When I tried it on, I could barely see.

I asked him how he saw with it on and he replied, “I don’t. That’s why I have a handler.” He smiled and motioned towards his friend, Ray. He said it was important for him to have a friend who didn’t mind following him around.

“There are times when it takes two people just to get into all the gear. And then, of course, he helps look out for my safety.” I recalled the three troopers from Dragon*Con telling me about some of the things people do to them when they’re in costume. Anthony said he’s been at events where someone from the garrison has been tackled by some idiot or people have come up and pounded on helmets.

Another reason you probably will never see me in Stormtrooper gear.

Look! A Time Agent!

Maggie and I didn’t actually attend any real panels throughout the day. The big things we wanted to see were Bonita Friedericy and the Luna-C show. As a result of not really having anything else planned, the two of us spent most of our time just hanging out in the lobby of the hotel, costume-watching and talking to random con-goers. Well, again, I was the one talking to random con-goers.

While we relaxed at one of the tables, I spotted a guy with what I deemed the “Best Random Fandom Shirt of the Day.” His name was Jason.

I can’t remember whether the Airbender couple came over to our table and asked for a picture, or if they just happened to be there and we ended up chatting…at any rate, the two people I refer to as “the Airbender couple” wound up talking to me about my Kaylee costume (According to the email I just received, the blue spirit’s name is Evan).¬†They asked if I had the parasol, and I expressed sadness over the fact that I didn’t have one yet. The guy wearing the blue spirit mask said that he knew someone who sold them. He gave me the name “The Shady Emporium” and said they were offered at a pretty good price.

I mentioned the blog to him and handed him the address, as well as the blog-specific email. Josh happened to be standing there, as well, and he also received the address. One of these days, I’ll actually manage to get business cards made.

I inquired as to who made the blue spirit mask and learned it was the young woman dressed as Katara. The guy dressed as the blue spirit handed me the mask so I could take a closer look at it. She had used a full-face plastic masquerade mask as the base and sculpted the details out of paperclay. She actually used the same exact stuff I used to make my Blink Angel mask. When I mentioned it, the guy asked if I had been the Blink Angel at Farpoint last year. I laughed and said I was.

“Cool. Yeah, I remember there being two, I think.”

From Robot Chicken's Star Wars special. He even had it set up to play the theme music.

“Yep. I was one, and my friend Maggie, over there, would be the other one.”

I think it’s awesome that our Blink Angel costumes are remembered by random strangers, a year after the fact.

About that time, Maggie signaled that we needed to start heading to the Grand Ballroom if we wanted to get a seat for Bonita. We started heading towards the hall that leads to the ballroom. On the way, a man in a Resident Evil Umbrella Corp uniform sidled up to me and asked if I had the fluffy Kaylee dress to wear later in the evening.

“No, sadly. It’s on my list of costumes to make, but at the moment the ones I have to make for Dragon*Con take precedence.”

We started talking about the absolutely fantastic versions of the Kaylee dress we’ve seen done over the years. He mentioned the one he saw at Dragon*Con this past year, and I’m pretty sure we were talking about the same one – it’s worn by a young woman who looks just like Kaylee. I remembered there being a very nice version of the Kaylee layer cake dress at Farpoint’s masquerade last year. It might have actually been the same person at both conventions.

The two of us actually ended up talking a great deal in the hallway. At some point Maggie realized that I was no longer behind her on the way to see Bonita. She wandered back to where I had been waylaid and Thunderduck (as his con badge and the nametag on his back proclaimed him) and I were in deep discussion about the merits of¬†functional costuming. Namely, costumes with pockets and places to store things. Since he was dressed in a Resident Evil costume, I mentioned I was planning to make a Rebecca Chambers costume for Dragon*Con this year, and that I was worried about the potential difficulties of making my flak vest. It’s got a specific look to it, which I haven’t yet found in pre-existing vest catalogs. Also, it’s specifically cut for a woman. The vests I’ve come across so far are pretty uni-sex. Rebecca’s has what basically amount to princess seams. I’ve got a lot of the material to fashion one, but something tells me it’s going to be one of the things that causes me problems. Fortunately, I’ve got the webbing belt done, and the pants are just green BDUs, which should be easy enough to get.

When he learned I was looking for certain military items, Thunderduck referred me to the site of “The Vest Guy.” The guy makes custom-made vests of all sorts. Many of them are based on patterns of vests which are no longer in production. He also suggested paintball gear websites which I, surprisingly, hadn’t really considered as a possible source for my Rebecca Chambers gear.

Oh, and if you’re interested, look up “Thunderduck” on scifihero.net. That’s the gent I was talking to.

A very blurry Bonita.

Eventually, we broke off the conversation and each headed our separate ways. Maggie and I found seats in the ballroom for Bonita’s talk. She began the whole Q&A by touting the wonders of a specific type of duct tape. It seems a part of her car fell off and she duct taped it back on. The thing hasn’t fallen off since.

She then proceeded to pull out two of her husband’s action figures. It took me a while to figure out who her husband was (it was written in the Farpoint booklet, but I hadn’t read that yet). Eventually, through context clues, I realized she’s married to John Billingsley. John was originally scheduled to appear at the convention as well, but had withdrawn in order to perform in a play that he had been trying to get a part in for quite some time.

Bonita goofed with the action figures a bit and wound up calling John on the phone, so he could talk to the audience a bit. It turns out he was actually very sick – to the point where he’d had to drop out of the play he was originally supposed to do. While she was talking to him he had a coughing fit, which elicited sympathy from the audience. Bonita’s response? “Oh, he’s an actor. Like that’s real.”

I ahve to say, I really enjoyed Bonita’s Q&A session. She, like all the actor guests I’ve had the chance to see at Farpoint, is very excited to interact with her fans. She’s got an incredibly quick wit when answering questions. I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow of the session, but I’ll say she’s definitely joined the ranks of awesome stars.

After Bonita’s talk, Maggie and I took¬†a break for lunch. We were looking forward to eating at Northern Lights all week. It appeared that some new things had been added to the menu, but we ended up sticking with the chicken wrap – and it’s lovely, spicy sauce. Mmmm.

Following lunch (much easier to eat than the last time, when we were both in our Blink Angel get-ups), we meandered through the dealers again. While we went through the patches again Maggie was approached by a guy who was a bit…well, creepy is really the only word I can use. He asked Maggie if he could take a picture and went on to say “You’re definitely the most attractive Jedi I’ve seen.” He stepped away for a moment, only to return and say, not-at-all-suavely, “So. Where are you ladies from?” We replied and went about our business, but he followed Maggie over to another booth and asked whether she’d read any of the expanded universe.

At that point, I had to walk away or I was going to burst out laughing. I really need to make a sign to hang on Maggie at cons that reads “Please don’t talk to me.” Again, Maggie doesn’t do “chatty.”

Later that evening, Maggie and I found ourselves parked at one of the tables in the lobby, waiting for the time when we could go in and get seats for the Masquerade. I took out my con notes and started going over them, and Maggie snacked on some of her cookies.

Maggie pointed out that Indiana Jones was there. This time he was dressed in the uniform of a crew member from the Nostromo (extra points if you know what that’s from). I find it interesting that she can identify him, regardless of what costume he’s wearing. I also find it interesting that we only refer to him as “Indiana Jones,” despite the fact that we’ve only seen him wear that costume once. Why do we call him Indiana Jones, you ask? Simple, really. We don’t know his actual name, but the first time we met him was at Shore Leave, when he was dressed as Indiana Jones and was admiring our homemade lightsaber handles.

More people drifted into the lobby, assembling for the evening’s activities,

I love how the ones on the end are smiling.

¬†and we were soon joined by a man dressed as a US Colonial Marine. His uniform tag said “Burkett” and he later introduced himself to us as Don. Of course, that was long after he made his rather memorable entrance.

He walked over to our table, preceeded by an almost palpable aura of booze, and merely said “Thank you.”

Maggie and I sat in our seats and looked at him. I smiled. She said “Uh, you’re welcome.”

He reached out his hand and continued, “Thank you for not being a pussy Jedi.”

I chuckled to myself, thankful that I had chosen to attend Farpoint dressed as Kaylee. I’m not sure I would’ve fared well if I had been otherwise attired. As I am wont to do, I talked with Don about a variety of geek-related topics. We discussed the merits of Jedi vs. Sith.¬†He revealed he really wanted to make a Darth Bane costume. I brought up the two versions I had seen at Dragon*Con the previous year, and Maggie pulled her pictures of them up on her Blackberry so he could see. He asked Maggie what the basis of her Sith character was – whether it was based on a pre-existing character or if she’d made it up herself – and asked if she’d considered making the costume for the blind female Sith lord…whose name I currently forget. She said she was thinking about it. She’s planning to dye her hair platinum blonde next, and her hairstyle is close enough to the character’s that she could pull it off.

Don mentioned that he doesn’t get down to Atlanta for Dragon*Con, as he works at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, which takes place at the same time. I asked what he did. Turns out he used to be a bartender at the Dragon Inn. Last year, though, he wound up working as a grove vendor. His wife, we learned, is the costume director of the festival. Most impressive! Eventually, one of Don’s friends came to fetch him. It seems their group was gonig to be celebrating the engagement of two of their friends. Don shook our hands and said “I’m going to go have an engagement drink, but I’ll be back in a bit.”

An hour later, it was clear he wasn’t coming back. I don’t know if he went back to his room, or what.

While we waited, I noticed a guy in an orange jumpsuit, carrying what appeared to be an ice cream maker. He spotted friends of his (I assume) who were peering out of the window of their hotel room, two floors above. They were dressed as the 10th and 11th Doctor. I watched as Orange Jumpsuit Guy walked over to the side of the lobby below their room and held his ice cream maker up towards them. Both Doctors took out their respective sonic screwdrivers and lit them up, pointing them down towards the ice cream maker. Then, Orange Jumpsuit Guy set down his prop, dug in a pocket and pulled out a Green Lantern ring. He put it on, it lit up, and he held it out towards them.

I couldn’t help but laugh. Gotta love random geeky fun.

The masquerade was, as expected, a fantastic amount of fun. My favorites mainly came from the children’s group. There was an adorable little dragon, a baby with a Yoda cap, the cutest damn Amelia Pond EVER! She came out with a Roman Centurian helmet (supposed to belong to Rory) and yelled “Na na nanana, I got your helmet!” The emcee immediately changed his Facebook status to “Amused as hell,” following her appearance. There was also an awesome Star Trek Enterprise costume. Not a costume from the show ST: Enterprise. The kid actually came out with the Enterprise on him. He was standing in the middle of the disk part – yes, I’m sure there’s a more technical term for it, but I’m not going to look it up right this minute – and the tail of the ship stuck out behind him. The thing even lit up. It was fantastic.

Maggie and I sat through the intermission – a shorter charity auction than last year’s and performances by musicians Insane Ian (check out his parody of Kesha’s “Tick Tock”) and Jonah Knight. I liked both of their stuff. They’ve got different styles – Ian is reminiscent of Weird Al, while Jonah’s got a more singer-songwriter vibe, for the most part. The song Jonah sang (the one about George Clooney) was rather bittersweet and almost made me tear up. That’s pretty impressive, considering I try not to cry in public. I definitely recommend both musicians.

We decided to head out before the winners of the Masquerade were announced. It had been a long day and we were both pretty beat. As we pulled out of the parking lot and started the hour-long drive back to Northern Virginia, I turned to Maggie and said “I don’t think I will ever get tired of talking to people at conventions.”

Quite honestly, that’s one of my absolute favorite parts of going to these things. Sure, I love the costumes – both wearing them and ogling others. Of course I enjoy meeting the actors and writers who bring me such fangirl glee and entertainment. Hell yes I enjoy perusing the wares at the dealers’ room. In the end, though, the thing that makes a convention great are the myriad of tiny moments I get to have with fellow fans.

Talking to people is, in a way, my job – seeing as how I’m a storyteller and a folklorist. Sure, I don’t get paid to do it, but that’s¬†essentially what my vocation is. I love talking with people.¬†Thankfully, I’ve got places like Farpoint where I can indulge that love.

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?

Monday.

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.

Dragon*Con 2010 Con Report #4: Sunday

::cautiously pokes head around the corner::

Um. Hello.

I’m finally back to finish up the long-awaited con reports for Sunday and Monday of Dragon*Con. Okay, so I only know for sure that they’ve been long-awaited by a select few people but, judging from the numbers of hits I’ve had over the past few weeks a couple of others might be waiting to read about Sunday, too. I sincerely apologize for not finishing these up sooner. I could say “I’ve been really busy!” – which I have been. I could say “They take a long time to write!” – which they do. But, in the end, whatever I tell you doesn’t change the fact that the con happened back in September, and we’re now on our way to the halfway point of November. Shameful on my part and, again, I apologize for the delay. I also apologize if this report seems kind of piecemeal…I didn’t take a lot of notes on Sunday and I’ve got to try to reconstruct my memory of what exactly happened that day from photos and a few scribbled messages.

That being said…

On to the con report for Sunday!  ::cues fanfare music::

Heather, Maggie and I had decided to make Sunday “Star Wars Day” for a couple of reasons. One, Maggie had made a cool Sith costume and wanted to have an entire day to wear it, instead of the half-day that is Monday at the con. Two, we’d all spent the previous day in either uncomfortable shoes (Maggie) or hot, unwieldy costumes (Heather and me), and we wanted a bit of a break from having to expend any sort of effort.

Well, Maggie had to put some effort into it. She’d purchased some red contact lenses from one of the dealer rooms the day before for use with her Sith costume and she had a devil of¬†a time getting them in. Heather and I, however, had pretty straightforward costumes.

I pulled out my variety of Jedi accoutrements and set about finding something suitable for Heather to wear. I quickly set her up with a short-sleeved top, knowing the layers can sometimes get a bit stifling in the crowded halls at Dragon*Con. After I got her all settled, I turned my attention to putting my own stuff together.

Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that I have a tendency to forget or overlook certain parts of my costumes from time to time. The last time I wore my Jedi costume (Farpoint) I had forgotten to pack my lightsaber. I felt naked that entire day, despite wearing five layers of clothing. This time, I made absolute certain that I packed my lightsaber. It was the very first thing to go in the bag. “Completely prepared,” I thought.

This being me, however, I had to forget something at home. This time around it was the bottom half of my costume. That’s right, folks, I forgot to pack my skirt. I could’ve sworn that I had put it in the bag, on top of the lightsaber, but it wasn’t there. I found it sitting in the middle of my bed when I finally got home after that weekend. After kicking myself for leaving a piece of my costume at home, I finally just donned a pair of jeans with the rest of the costume, determined to search out pants or a skirt once we got to the convention.

When we got to the lot where we usually park it was already PACKED. Luckily, the Green Man is nice and compact, and we can usually fit into spots that most other cars can’t. We piled out of the car and headed in to grab some breakfast from the Starbucks in the Marriot…

…and Maggie realized that we had completely forgotten to pay for our parking and put the ticket in the front windshield. Since the line at the Starbucks has a tendency to get out of control, Heather and I stayed there, keeping our spots and ensuring we’d get something to eat and Maggie headed back out to handle the parking. It’s a good thing she remembered when she did, too. When she got back she said that the guy was just going around to check everyone’s tickets when she put the¬†receipt in the window.

The three of us relaxed in some cushy armchairs near the convenience store while we ate our breakfast. Of course, as usually happens, we started

These guys are AWESOME!

talking about people we had seen the day before, as well as that morning. I don’t know how we got on the subject of it, but the conversation turned to the gaggle of Sith that Maggie and I regularly spot around Dragon*Con. The group includes a few people, the most noticable of whom¬†are Lance Udell and Tara Smith. If you remember, at the end of the last con report I posted a link to a Chad Vader video. Tara and Lance appear in it briefly, given the names “Sexy Jedi.” According to Maggie, they have a company that makes the supercool lightsabers we see them sporting around the con.

These are no run-of-the-mill sabers, people. Maggie and I have often noticed that they seem much brighter than the standard ones you buy at the dealer’s room. That’s because these sabers use LED lights. So, you know…they look brighter because they are brighter. Apparently, Maggie had inquired about the sabers and learned that they come in a high variety of colors: orange, red, yellow, purple, teal, white, blue, green…I’m sure I’m missing a few.

That’s when I got a bit silly. Yes, I realize that I’ve been more than a bit silly far earlier than this year’s Dragon*Con. Let’s say, instead, that this is the point on Sunday when I first got a bit silly. I honestly don’t know what color lightsaber I would have and joked about the possibility of getting one with EVERY COLOR KNOWN TO MAN in the blade. Then I proceeded to pretend to stab an invisible someone with a non-existant lightsaber, while yelling “Taste the Rainbow!”

Somehow the concept of a Care Bear Jedi came up, and I moved on to joking

Attempting a Jedi mind trick on a Dalek

¬†about the rainbow-hued lightsaber taking the place of a Care Bear stare. By this point, I was laughing hysterically. I flopped back into my cushy armchair, leaned my head back against the top…and noticed two congoers grinning and taking a picture of me. As tends to happen, my costumed antics had been observed and enjoyed by passerby (or, in this case, passer-aboves, as they were on the next floor up, leaning over the edge of the railing). I grinned back at them and waved as they snapped a picture.

Around this time I caught sight of a very spot-on Gene Simmons look-alike walking past. I got up and grabbed Heather’s camera and fired off a shot. I wound up seeing a grand total of three people dressed like Gene Simmons over the course of the con, but this one looked the most like him. It also prompted the following exchange between Maggie and I the next day:

Me: That guy who was dressed as Gene Simmons was, um…

Maggie: Really weird?

Me: Yeah. I was going to say “really in character, to his detriment,” but “really weird” works well too.

He was kind of creepy.

The requests to pose for pictures started pretty early on Sunday. It’s something Maggie and I have come to expect when we wear Star Wars

"Luke" grabbed Maggie for some posed shots.

¬†themed costumes. I think it’s mainly because the majority of Jedi we tend to see wandering the halls are men. This time around, of course, we had two female Jedi and a female Sith…whose shirt was kind of low-cut.

Most of the time we do pretty standard Jedi/Sith poses. We do that whole “I’m using the force to move things/influence weak minds” hand movement. If we have a lightsaber we hold it. Nothing too fancy, for the most part. I decided pretty early on, however, that I wanted to take advantage of the fact that there were a number of other Star Wars characters wandering about that day. I came up with a couple of ideas for pictures that I wanted to take. I managed to get most of them checked off the list over the course of the day.

I love the intensity of all the Sith!

One of the best Star Wars shots I saw involved a gaggle of Sith and a samurai rabbit. Brilliant. Just brilliant. I wanted to set up one of my shots with that same group of Sith, but they somehow managed to disappear before Maggie and I could get over to them to ask for said photo op. I’m convinced they have teleportation skills. One minute they were there, the next¬†minute they were gone.

Now, as I mentioned, I had forgotten to pack part of my costume and was

Look! Turtles!

¬†intent on finding a suitable stand-in for my missing skirt. The three of us hit the dealer rooms pretty early on in the day, on the hunt for clothing. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted pants or a skirt – quite honestly, I was willing to be satisfied with anything that wasn’t my blue jeans. I knew from prior experience that the clothing sold at cons can get kind of pricey, but I didn’t realize how much most of the booths tend to charge for simple pants and skirts. I came to the realization early on that I need to get on the ball and start making clothing to sell at conventions. I would make a killing!

Anyhoo, I finally located a nice little booth that had an assortment of skirts and wrap-around pants for a reasonable price. I picked up a nice pair of brown wrap pants (one of the guys running the booth asked if I knew how they worked…I smiled and explained that I have a pair of shorts just like them¬†– albeit made out of really loud fabric) for $35 and took note of the fact that they also sold the conical straw hats that I love so much. I really want to work one in to a steampunk look. One of these days!¬† ::shakes fist in the air::

By the by…happy as I am with both my Jedi battle skirt (that’s what Maggie and I call it) and the wrap pants that I bought at Dragon*Con, this is ultimately what I would like to make for the bottom half of my costume. Pants AND a skirt, combined! The best of both worlds!

Heather was also on the prowl for things in the dealer room. Specifically, she was looking for a Jurassic Park staff badge. I had mentioned seeing two badges like that earlier in the weekend. One said “Staff” below the Jurassic Park insignia, the other said “Ranger.” She’s got an idea for a Jurassic Park costume next year. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate the booth where I had seen the badges. Hopefully we’ll be able to track them down online. If anyone reading this has seen them and knows where we might order one, please let me know.

Not only was this guy older than we all thought, he had possibly the best legs of the entire convention.

Eventually, the three of us wandered back over to the Hyatt. We wanted to check out the hall costume entries. We went ahead and put in our votes (Heather’s Barf costume from Friday was up on the board, as was a shot of the three of us in our Castaspella/Orko/Kowl costumes from Saturday). There were¬† a LOT of wonderful costumes to choose from.

After our votes were in, we meandered back over to the Hilton, and the Walk of Fame. Well, Maggie and I did. Heather set¬†off to¬†see if she could get into Adam Savage’s Mythbuster’s panel.

Once again, I had made the decision to only get one autograph while at Dragon*Con. It was a difficult choice, but I eventually picked Colin Ferguson over Sam Trammell. Tough choice, but it had to be made. I suppose I ultimately figured I like Eureka better than True Blood. Just a tad bit, but enough to make the call in favor of Ferguson.

Maggie waited with me over at Colin Ferguson’s table. It wasn’t a very long line (I’m honestly surprised at how fast the lines move at Dragon*Con, when the autograph lines at every other convention always seem to stand still) and I patiently waited my turn. Erica Cerra – who plays Deputy Jo Lupo – had the table right next to Colin’s. At one point, she proceeded to climb over her table, jump on the ground, and posed for a picture with two folks in costume. I got the feeling that she had been the one to ask for the picture, and not the other way around. After the picture was taken, she went off in search of the bathroom. Just as I got up to the table, Colin looked over at his assistant and asked where Erica had gone. He excused himself for a moment and I went about trying to choose which picture I wanted him to sign.

He apologized when he came back. He really didn’t need to. It’s not like I feel the actors should be chained to the tables¬†and made to perform and interact with us. They are people. They’re allowed to get up and move around and have fun, just like the rest of us. And they can certainly go off in search of sandwiches and bathroom facilities.

These brainsuckers were the most popular item for sale at Dragon*Con. So much so that I believe the dealer ran out of them the first day.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that one of the things that puts an actor in my “Awesome!” list is how they interact with fans. Being a decent human being will always get you a gold star in my book, whether you’re famous or not. I’ve come across people who have an attitude, and I’ve met others who are incredibly warm and welcoming. For the record, I’ve met far more of the latter than the former and¬†Colin Ferguson, I am happy to say, joins the ranks of the awesome. He’s just so darn NICE. I think anyone would be hard-pressed to dislike him.

When he got back from finding Erica Cerra, he sat down in his chair. When I stepped forward with my photo, however, he stood up to greet me. He shook my hand, asked my name, and introduced himself.”

“Nice to meet you, Meg. I’m Colin,” he said.

I grinned and chuckled. “Yes. I know. It’s very nice to meet you.”

He smiled back. “Yeah, I guess you do know.” Then he sat down to autograph the picture. He asked about my costume – specifically the lightsaber. The assistant next to him asked where I’d gotten it, and I explained how Maggie and I made them. I untied it and handed it over, so she could take a closer look at it. When Colin was finished signing the autograph, he stood back up and shook my hand again.

“It was very nice to meet you. I hope you have a good time at the rest of the convention. And thanks for watching the show.”

I’ll tell you right now…those blue eyes are even more distracting in real life than they are on tv.

Maggie’s tour around the Walk of Fame was¬†a tad more in-depth than mine was. She is on a mission to get autographs from the main players of the bridge from¬†Star Trek: The Next Generation. Going in to Dragon*Con 2010, she already had autographs from Patrick Stewart and Marina Sirtis. This year, most of the folks she needed were going to be in one place.

The first person she wanted to get an autograph from was Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar). As Maggie repeatedly told me, Tasha Yar was her hero growing up. Makes sense, when you think about it. She was the first female head of security that we saw in Star Trek. The line for Denise Crosby was right next to the one for Brent Spiner. While I stood with Maggie, I did a little bit of people watching. At one point, a young boy (probably around 12) came up to shake Brent Spiner’s hand. He was kind of shy and started to slip away right afterwards. Brent called out “Wait a minute. You can’t stand in line for a long time and just leave with a handshake.” He called the boy back, chatted wih him,¬†and posed for a picture with him – at no charge. That impressed me, as usually there is a charge for taking a picture with one of the stars…particularly one as well known as Brent Spiner. That moment moved him onto the “Awesome!” list, as well.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know…he’s a bit of a goofball. ūüôā He was playing around with a number of fans who came up to meet him and, at one point, wandered over to Denise Crosby to give her a random hug.

Heather said there was a chorus of "RU-FI-OOOO!" when she saw this group.

Turning the other direction while we waited in line, I spotted John de Lancie (Q). Despite the presence of a beard, he’s still quite recognizable as one of my favorite characters from The Next Generation. He was eating a sandwich.

Scaring customers in the restaurant

Yes, that’s right. I’m reporting on the eating habits of Star Trek stars. Didn’t I mention that I’m having to piece this day together from a few notes and some fuzzy memories? That’s what you get…commentary about sandwiches. I don’ t have the slightest idea why that memory sticks in my head – I still haven’t completely grasped how my brain works – but I remembered it, and so I wrote about it. So there.

At this point in my writing, I’ve been asked by Maggie to mention the fact that, when she got up to the front of the line, Denise Crosby told her that she looked gorgeous.

LeVar Burton (Geordi LaForge) was on a break when Maggie finished getting her autographs from Denise and Brent – I am willing to bet that he, too, was off enjoying a sandwich – so Maggie moved on around the corner and tracked down Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker).

I feel that I should mention the fact that Maggie’s gotten remarkably better at being able to talk to movie

The type of reading glasses Jonathan Frakes was sporting at Dragon*Con

¬†and¬†television stars, over the course of our various con treks. She had little moments with a number of the actors she met this year. When we got up to the front of Frakes’ line, she picked out a photo and handed it to him. He was wearing a pair of glasses around his neck and, as he settled down to autograph her picture, he pulled them up and put them on his nose. The cool thing about them is that they snap together at the bridge of the nose. Maggie and I were both intrigued by them. “Those are so cool!” Maggie blurted out. He smiled and talked about them briefly before moving on to sign her photo. I seem to remember him bidding us a good day at the convention as well.

At this point, Maggie had started to amass quite the collection of signed photos. Neither of us had thought ahead to buy plastic sleeves for our photos. Luckily, one of the tables – I think it was Frakes’, actually –¬†was

Death to Smoochy

selling those sleeves in addition to the photos for signatures. We picked up a couple. For some reason, I took that moment to wander out of the Hall of Fame, while Maggie went back to wait in LeVar Burton’s line. I honestly can’t remember why I left and what I did. Again…fuzzy memories. I swear I wasn’t on anything at the convention. I was just sleep-deprived, over-stimulated, and filled with fangirl giddiness.

I do know that, after the signatures, Maggie and I met back up with Heather. Turns out the line for Adam Savage had been ridiculously long, and there was no chance of getting in to see his panel unless you had been waiting in said line for at least an hour already. Of course, by the time Heather met back up with us and we were preparing to leave the Hilton in search of lunch, the panel had ended. The three of us joined the snarl of bipedal traffic that was swarming around and through the walkway from the Hilton back over to the Marriot. As we finally neared the entrance to the walkway, I noticed a familiar looking ginger head, wearing glasses and sporting a black hat. I did a doubletake and, sure enough, it was Adam Savage.

I almost – almost – called out “Hey! It’s Adam Savage!” Then I realized that might not be a good idea, considering we were already in a massive press of people. I have no way of knowing whether calling attention to the presence of one of the popular guests at the convention would have caused a ruckus. I’d like to think the attendees at Dragon*Con are more well-behaved than that. However, I wasn’t really all that keen on taking my chances.

We continued to move through the walkway. About halfway through, I ended up doing another double-take. This time, I was standing within two inches of Kim Bauer (Pam from TrueBlood). Pam is one of my favorite characters from the books, and one of my favorites from the show, so it was kind of neat to run across her in passing. Like most of the other actors I spotted in the hall, she smiled at me and went on her way.

The guy in the background snapped a better picture, but I need to get his permission first before I can post it here.

We headed to the convenience store in the Marriot to pick up lunch, as we tend to do for most of the convention. The store stocks a nice selection of sandwiches and salads that are both filling and healthy. The fact that it’s so easy to eat healthy for a low cost is one of the things I love about Dragon*Con. After purchasing our respective meals, we wandered off to find a spot to eat. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to find some empty armchairs and a table. Usually, though, we simply retreat to the area underneath one of the Marriot’s many staircases.

I remember making some kind of remark about the fact that, with the exception of the pre-Jedi Luke sitting at the dinner table with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, a scene set at Shmi Skywalker’s house in Episode One, and – if I remember correctly – a scene in Yoda’s hut on Dagobah, we don’t see Jedi eating. We don’t really have an idea of whether or not followers of the Jedi way are vegetarian or not. I think it’d be an interesting notion to consider. I mean, in a number of ways it reminds me of Buddhism and the majority of my Buddhist friends are vegetarian. I think, perhaps, I am going to do more research on the subject…to see if eating habits of various members of the Jedi Order are mentioned throughout the expanded universe.

Anyway…back to the actual convention…

One of the things I absolutely love about Dragon*Con (about any sci-fi con, honestly) is the presence of remote-controlled robots. I’ve seen an R2D2 unit on more than one occasion, and they never cease to make me smile. I spotted one on our walk through the Marriot and made Maggie take a picture of me with it. And yes, before you ask, I said the “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” line from the movie.

The remote-controlled unit that truly made my day, however, was the K-9 unit from Doctor Who. I spotted it in the middle of the Marriot floor and made a bee-line over to it. I bent over to pet its robot head and the ears rotated back and forth, like K9’s do in the show.

I may – may – have squeed and clapped my hands in a wholly unJedi-like manner. There is no proof of this, to my knowledge.

I looked around for the person who was controlling K9. There was a man standing a few feet away from me with his hands behind his back. He was looking up, as though studying the balconies of the Marriot. He was obviously having a grand time making the robot move about and interact with people, and was doing his best to blend in with the crowd.

At that point, a couple of Doctor Who fans – one Doctor and three different companions (and a Kaylee from Firefly) – spotted K9 and headed over. I loved how all the girls cooed over the robotic dog.

I cannot express how much joy this duo brought me when I passed them in the hall.

At 4pm, Maggie and¬†I split off from Heather once again. The two of us wanted to sit in on the panel entitled “Forensic Pathology in Georgia.” Heather, while she reads a lot of true crime, was more interested in exploring other sections of the convention. She left us to our panel and headed off to do more people-watching and photo-taking.

I should mention here that the panel Maggie and I went to was given an NC-17 rating, due to the content that we were going to be seeing. It was understandable. I mean, we were going to a topic about dead people. And not the cleaned up and neatly presented people one sees in funeral parlors. Oh no. This panel was about the Tri-State Crematory Scandel, which took place in 2002.

Maggie and I were the only two people¬†in attendance at this panel in costume. There we were, sitting in the middle row of the room, in full Jedi and Sith get-ups. I was a bit¬†surprised that no one else there was¬†decked out in some sort of costume. I don’t know if, maybe, the¬†folks who attend the science track panels just don’t dress up, or if the lack¬†of other costumed geeks in this panel was just a fluke.

In all honesty, I kind of wish the panel had been full of more actual scientists, instead of the casual observers who were there. The pathologist giving the presentation about the case kept getting interrupted by people asking questions – many of them asking the exact same questions that had just been asked! He had said, before he started, to please hold all questions until the end. Understandable, considering the amount of material he had to get through. Plus, it was likely that any questions the audience might have had would be answered in the natural course of his presentation.

People didn’t bother to follow through on this request, though. And they kept asking questions that had to do with the psychology of the guy behind the whole scandel…things that the pathologist had no connection to. His work was about the identification and cataloguing of the human remains found on the grounds of the crematorium.

In the end, I found the panel fascinating but found myself wishing I’d been able to sit through it with folks who had a more substantial grounding in forensic science – particularly, in forensic pathology or anthropology. Oh well.

After we left the panel, we met back up with Heather and proceeded to do

I saw this incarnation of the Doctor while I was riding the escalator. I remember yelling "Stay there!" and darting through the crowd.

¬†my favorite thing at conventions…people watch! We scoured all the floors of the Marriot, in search of people wearing interesting costumes, and we were not disappointed. In fact, I think the theme of Sunday could very well be “Gee…I’ve not seen that before!” We came across a number of unique costume ideas, mixed up in the general costumed geekery.

As we wandered around, I inevitably started brainstorming for next year. I’d actually started thinking about next year on Friday, but only a little bit here and there. Sunday was when I pulled out my little notebook and made a note that I NEED to make my Rebecca Chambers costume and my Night Watch light company uniform for next year’s Dragon*Con. There are always a good number of folks in Resident Evil costumes, so Rebecca would have a nice place to hang out. As for the Night Watch costume…it’s a favorite movie of mine, and I’ve never seen anyone dressed as any of the characters.

Hoping my force powers are up to the task of heading off three Sith.

At this point, Maggie and I were in full photo mode. That means posing for photos, as well as running around taking them. There were a fair number of Star Wars characters milling about in the Marriot and we took advantage of this. As I mentioned before, there were a couple of specific pictures I wanted. Luckily, everyone you meet at Dragon*Con is incredibly obliging as far as goofy or specific poses go, so it wasn’t that difficult to convince folks to pause for a scene or two. Of course, the flip side to setting up an interesting shot is that everyone else around you sees it and wants to get a picture of it as well.

I want to take a moment out now to clarify that I don’t mind other folks

I asked Emperor Pope-atine to bless Maggie's Sith character. He obliged.

¬†grabbing a shot of a scene I’ve set up. I’m more than fine with it. I’ve done the same thing. The only bad thing about it – and it’s really not “bad,” in the great scheme of things – is that one tends to end up stuck in that pose for at least ten minutes while everyone takes a picture. That’s what happened when I ducked into a grouping of troopers and droids for a quick picture.

¬†People looked over, saw an additional Star Wars character, and started snapping away. If the group I was posing with had asked me over for that purpose I would’ve felt better about it. As it was, I didn’t want to take away from their thunder. I waited for a minute while a few folks grabbed a shot or two and then ducked back out.

This year, Maggie and I opted to watch the Masquerade from the audience, rather than participate. Remember that whole con report from last year? Yeaaaah….didn’t want a repeat of a possible panic attack like I had last time. This was also Heather’s first introduction to the concept of the Masquerade, and it’s always best to see one before you’re in one.

I was expecting the line for the Masquerade to be longer than it was when we went to queue up. I suppose that’s just because I had heard stories about it getting filled quickly the year before. Since Maggie and I had been up in the area over at the Hyatt getting ready, we had never seen last year’s line. Nor did I really get a good look at the size of the hall it had been in. Kind of hard to get a good idea of the size when you’re wearing a giant puppet head.

This year, the con staff moved the location of the Masquerade to one of the main halls in the Marriot. I’m sure the hall we ended up in was much bigger than the one from last year. It was also very heavily air-conditioned. I was grateful for my layers of Jedi gear and, especially, for my Jedi cloak.

Steampunk Flash

Ultimately, there weren’t really a whole lot of people in the hall for the Masquerade. Sure, a good part of the front half of the hall filled up, but there weren’t all that many people sitting near us, halfway down the room.

Possibly the best part of the whole Masquerade experience is the pre-show show. There were big screens hung from the ceiling, on which we could watch the many sketches and bumpers that were created specifically for the convention by the DCTV folks. The best sketches, by far, are the ones about Bob and Carl: Sci-fi Janitors. If you get the chance, you should look them up (and “like” them) on Facebook. This is one of my favorite scenes with them.

The Masquerade itself….eh. It seems to me there were a lot of sketches that left me wondering “What was that supposed to be?” There was one in particular called Plants vs. Zombies that was kind of funny in the beginning, but when it went on into about two minutes with no real action going on – just a person in a weird plant costume standing there, dancing to theme music, and zombies shambling about on stage – I was done with it.

Usually, I encourage everyone to get involved with Masquerade at one point in their con-going existence. It doesn’t really matter if you’re not the greatest thespian who ever lived. There are plenty of simple, interesting things you can do to show off your costume. That being said…if you’re going to do a skit, for the love of all that is good and decent, make sure it’s put together well, and that you rehearse it. Don’t let it drone on for several minutes. In this case, shorter is most definitely better. You want to leave people wishing for more…not begging you to get off stage.

After the Masquerade, we went back to our people-watching ways. We quickly learned that the entrances to the hotel had been blocked off, and that no one could come in unless they were a registered guest of said hotel, or if they were a con-goer with a badge. Heather was happy about that development, as she’d had a few run-ins with some drunken non-con-goers the night before.

That’s not to say that the Dragon*Con folks were not imbibing. Oh, were they drinking. I believe several people had to be hauled off by medics – one of the dangers of getting shit-faced while wearing vinyl clothing in the middle of a seething crowd of warm bodies.

At one point in the evening, I noticed a goofy individual in tactical gear and a cheesey mustache doing flips around a cardboard box. I hadn’t the slightest idea what was going on at the time. About a week ago, Maggie found this video on youtube. You can see me in the background (briefly) at the 3:44 mark. I’m looking up at the floor above us. Just as Snake starts his flip towards the box at 3:45, I’m on the left side of the screen, watching him and trying to figure out what’s going on.

About this time, we noticed a number of people looking up, staring at some sort of activity coming from the upper floors of the Marriott. Now, last year, some joker had the absolutely brilliant idea of uprooting some of the decorative (living) plants from their place on the upper landings and tossing them onto people below. I remember that well, as I was on the side of the lobby where the plants were being dropped. I thought I was imagining things when the first one fell, but the rain of dirt and plant material that followed proved me right.

These two didn't know each other. The stormtrooper played along when Starkiller asked him to pose with him.

This time, the items being tossed from above were much more playful. Someone – I don’t know who – tossed a few GI Joe figures from above. Lest you think that some jerk was pelting those of us below with hard plastic toys, let me assure you…they had parachutes.

That’s right. Folks had let a few parachute guys float down from above, much to the amusement of the Dragon*Con attendees and the annoyance of folks working security. I noticed some hubbub going on amongst the hotel and con staff, as they tried to locate who was setting the GI Joes on their downward trajectory. One of the con-goers standing near us commented “Come on, guys. It’s not like it’s a terrorist. It’s GI Joe, an all-American hero!” I haven’t the slightest idea whether the staff ever found who was tossing GI Joe’s to their fate, but it provided a little moment of levity in a day already filled with fun and goofiness.

Shortly after the whole parachute incident, the three of us decided it was

This guy even had little sticky paw prints that he could put around the hotel as "clues." He said he had to bring more than three, as he had a tendency to lose them.

¬†time to head back to our hotel. It had been a long day, we were all tired, and we still had another half day at the con and a LONG drive ahead of us the next day. We pulled out of the parking lot and stopped at a red light…and Ecto 1 pulled up next to us!

I think I might have scared the driver and the other people in Ecto 1 when I screamed “You’re awesome!” at them. When they recovered, though, the driver reached¬†over and flipped on the loudspeakers and the LED board that were attached to the top of the car. I tried to take a short video of the car but the light turned green just as my camera phone started filming. I just attempted to send the video to facebook (I then would have to transfer it to youtube in order to imbed a link for you all to watch). My phone says the video was sent, but it still hasn’t appeared on facebook. We’ll see if it ever does.

I haven’t the foggiest idea what time we got back to the hotel. All I know is it was late, we were all tired and¬†a bit giggly, and we barely managed to find a parking spot in the garage area. We headed across

The only person we saw in the new Wonder Woman costume

the packed parking lot and either Heather or I made a comment about how the folks in the hotel were probably going to wonder what we were doing, dressed as we were in various bits of costume. This prompted the following interchange between Maggie and I:

Maggie: You look like you’re wearing a bathrobe. (I had belted my cloak closed around me) I apparently look like Cobra Kai.

Me: You do! Sweep the leg!

Just so you’re not as lost about that statement, I should elaborate that I’d been teasing Maggie for most of the day that the shirt she’d made for her Sith costume made me think of the Cobra Kai dojo

This is Sweet Bee from She-Ra group we posed with on Saturday!

¬†from The Karate Kid. Which, in turn, made me wish I knew more guys who’d be willing to go to cons with us dressed as characters from a certain karate film from the 80s.

On our way into the hotel lobby – which smelled very strongly of curry that evening – we met up with a young couple who was in the process of hauling their luggage in from their car and up to their room. They walked with us to the elevators and asked what we were coming from. Maggie and I tried to give an overview of what Dragon*Con is. The guy said, “Oh…like furries? Are they there? I’ve heard about them.” The three of us kind of exchanged looks and tried to explain the difference. Being the only one of us who actually knows people within the furry community, Heather handled that question.

Eventually, we parted ways and the three of us made it back to our rooms…

I convinced a random Stormtrooper to switch weapons with me and pose for a shot.

…where we proceeded to wander about aimlessly. As I said earlier, we were all really tired. Maggie was so worn out that she sat down on one of the armchairs and couldn’t manage to pull her second boot off. When she finally got her shoes off, she went and sprawled out on her air mattress (she was’t even completely on it). She was sitting there for 40 minutes before she realized the maids had made up the air mattress, tucking the sheets and blankets under and arranging the pillows.

The maids had also posed Heather’s stuffed animals on her bed and covered up the face of Kowl’s head, which had been sitting over on the desk. I think they were freaked out by it and couldn’t bring themselves to clean the room while it was looking at them. I just thought it was funny that they had covered his eyes with his own ears.

And now…Sunday’s NGB Costume Awards!

Best meeting of random fandoms: Stormtrooper and Abby Sciuto

Ballsiest Man: Lt. Dangle

Ballsiest Woman: Vampirella

Best Group: Shatner action figures. These gentlemen were absolutely great! I had a hard time taking pictures of them because I was laughing so hard. Absolutely brilliant idea!

Rarest: Zorg from 5th Element. I’ve NEVER seen anyone dress as Zorg before.

Ah! Creepy!

Creepiest: Whatever the thing in the sweater was

Best Videogame Character: Bayonetta

Most in Character: Freakazoid. Watching him go up the escalator was highly amusing.

Twilight costume I actually liked: Jacob wearing torn up clothing. (Maggie later told me “I saw an Edward costume wandering around. I wanted to punch it.”)

Funniest: Jewbacca

Best Overall: Star Wars Potato Heads (these guys were in the masquerade)

Best Budget Costume: Duct Tape Gladiator. This is the same guy who won funniest for his Barrel of Monkeys costume the day before.

Best Geek t-shirt: A guy named Jason whose shirt read “You Hadron me at Higgs particle.”

Most Dedication: C3P0 – That costume can’t be comfortable.

Best Horror: The Birds victim and Carrie

Funniest Horror: “Home is Where the Heart Is” Silent Hill character. The woman wearing the costume giggled when I saw her and just burst out laughing.

Cutest: Wondergirl!

Best Cross-over Prop: Dalek in the Stargate

Honorable Mentions: Jack McSparrow (Jack Sparrow wearing Marty McFly costume), Steampunk Flash, Bill & Ted group, Screen of Death.

Dragon*Con 2010 report #3: Saturday

Saturday started much earlier than I wanted it to. Especially since my body had woken me up at 4am for some strange reason and didn’t let me get back to sleep for almost an hour. I actually can’t tell you what time I got up on Saturday morning, as my eyes were too bleary and my mind too fuzzy to properly read or comprehend what the time display on the hotel clock was trying to tell me. All I really can tell you was that it was early, and I was woken up by Maggie gently shaking me awake. I pulled the earplug out of one of my ears (both Maggie and Heather are known to snore, so it was a precautionary measure) and heard her announcing in a sing-song voice “Meeeeeg, Meeeeg, wake up. It’s parade day!”

It made me giggle, but apparently the pillow smothered my response, because Maggie didn’t realize I was awake until I finally stuck my feet out from under the blanket and tried to pull myself out of the bliss that is the guest bed at the Westin.

Luckily, I had laid out the clothes I was going to wear the night before. I say “luckily” because, even though they were all in a neat little pile, I couldn’t seem to understand how to pick them up, or where to go with them right away. I have no idea why I was so out of it, but it took forever to figure out what to do with said clothing. I trundled off to the bathroom and put on the tank top and “hobbit pants” that I would be wearing underneath my Kowl costume that day.

I’ll explain what, exactly, the hobbit pants are at a later time. It doesn’t really have anything to do with Dragon*Con, other than being the pants I wore on this particular day.

As soon as Heather and I were finished with our preparations, Maggie distributed the white parade ribbons, which we affixed to the bottom of our badges. Apparently, the ribbons had previously been hot pink, but so many people complained that they clashed horribly with their costumes that the Dragon*Con powers that be changed to the neutral white ribbon.

We all grabbed the costume bits and assorted gear that we would need throughout the day and headed out. My¬†bag was going to be remarkably light that day. I had packed a small, old camera bag (about 8″x5″x2″) with the essentials – hotel key, safety pins, pocket schedule, gum, wallet, and something else important that I currently forget – and had put my money for the day, cell phone, chapstick and debit card in a small badge holder that I hung around my neck. The camera bag was very close to the color of Kowl’s body, which meant it would blend in during the photo sessions throughout the day. The badge holder with my money and other essentials was hidden nicely by the furry bib of the costume.

When we walked downstairs and out through the Westin lobby, I noticed more than a few strange looks. I expected them, though. Afterall, Heather was wearing her Orko robe already and Maggie had had to don her entire Castaspella costume before we left the hotel room. I, on the other hand, simply looked like someone about to head out for a day outside. I was carrying all of the components for my Kowl costume, wanting to wait as long as possible before I had to put everything on. I wasn’t sure how warm a onesie made entirely of felt would be, and I wanted to spend as long as possible being cool before I had to put everything on.

The three of us hopped in the car and headed downtown, chowing down on oatmeal bars for breakfast while we drove. We needed to be at the hotel by 9:20am (I think) to meet up with the other people in our group, and at the staging area for the parade at 9:30am. By the time Maggie got finished standing in the HUGE line at the parking lot and paid for our spot, it was already 9:30.

And, lest you think Heather and I were just lounging about while Maggie waited in line, I should probably mention that we were getting ready. Heather just¬†had to assemble her head (there’s a specific way her Orko head goes together) and put on her gloves. I, on the other hand, had to put on EVERYTHING. First, I put on Kowl’s body, followed by the slightly ridiculous (but oh-so-comfy) feet. At first I went ahead and zipped the whole thing up, but then I realized I could wander around with the top part safely tied around my waist and remain a few degrees cooler while we were outside. I went ahead and tucked the small camera bag inside my costume, so it wouldn’t be visible during the parade. Kowl’s body is roomy enough to hide it inside.

Then came the re-assembly of the ears. I had made the earflaps of Kowl’s head detachable, for easier storage and transportation in the car. Unfortunately, I had snipped off too much of the wire that the ears rest on when I was finishing the head and the ears are no longer able to stand completely at attention. In order to keep them from falling off or flopping over into my face, I needed to tie them together a bit with some fishing line.

It never really worked the way¬†I wanted it to, but it would hold the ears on for the duration of the parade and that’s really what I was worried about. Especially since the weather included a steady breeze that could very easily cause problems for a costume with huge, sail-like ears attached to the giant head.

Finally, Maggie returned to the car with the parking slip and the three of us finalized our gear storage for the day. I put the extra fishing line, a pair of scissors and a small pack of needles in Heather’s bag (she was carrying a much larger one), along with a box containing two instant cool packs. More on those later.

We hurried off to the Marquis, where we were supposed to meet up with Teela, He-Man, She-Ra and another Orko. When we got there, the only one we found was Helen, who was dressed as Teela. According to her, the other Orko had had a rough night and wouldn’t be joining us that day. We waited a few minutes for Scott and Brittany (He-Man and She-Ra). We were all running a little behind, and Helen made a call to Scott to see where they were. When she didn’t get a response right away she joked “He might not have his cell phone on him…there’s not a whole lot of room in that loincloth.”

Helen finally managed to get through to the other two and we made arrangements to meet them at the base of the elevators in the Hyatt, where they were staying. We trooped over there, saying a little thank-you for the newly constructed bridge that connected the Hyatt to the Marquis, and awaited the arrival of the rest of our group. While we stood around, a few folks came up to us to ask for pictures. The crowd doubled when Scott and Brittany joined us, and I remember Scott telling most of them “We’d love to, but we’re already late for the parade.”

It was a good thing he knew where we all needed to go, as none of us had a good clue. All I knew was that we had a nice little walk ahead of us before we’d get to the parade staging area. We wandered back through the hotels and down to the street level, and then we all just booked it up several blocks. Scott was way out in front of the rest of us – mostly because he didn’t have to worry much about walking in heels (like Brittany and Maggie did), or carrying a giant head (like Heather and I).

Honestly, the walk to the staging area wasn’t all that bad for me. It was a little warm in the felt suit, but there was also a nice, steady breeze blowing for most of the walk. Felt is actually rather breathable when you’re outside.

We got to the staging area just in time. Scott spoke to the folks in charge of lining everyone up and we got a nice spot at the end of the “animation” group. One of the lovely surprises when we actually got to the line-up was the discovery of a fellow con-goer who was dressed as the Sorceress, from the He-Man cartoon.

Holy. Freaking. Crap.

The costume was AMAZING! Even people who had no clue what we were all supposed to be from were stopping to admire and take pictures. Maggie spoke to the Sorceress (I’d love to use an actual name here but, sadly, I was a bit negligent in discharging my blogger duties this day and failed to write it down. I blame my inability to wield a pen while wearing three-finger gloves). The Sorceress asked if Maggie had made her entire costume, and admitted that her own was mainly hot glued together.

Now, I know that there are some people out there who might sneer at a costume that is¬†not entirely sewn together, whether by hand or machine. To those folks, I would say PFFFFT! (Yes, that’s me trying to blow a text-form raspberry) You didn’t see this thing close up. I couldn’t tell it was all glued together, and I’m willing to bet others couldn’t either. Plus, I’ve seen many costumes that people describe as “entirely hand-sewn” that look like they’ve been purchased from a store at Halloween and run over by a tank. If the end effect is as brilliant as the Sorceress’ costume, I don’t care if you pieced it together with gum and scotch tape.

Okay. Mini-tangent’s done. Back to the parade.

There was a sizeable group of Browncoats represented in the parade. And when I say “Browncoats” I don’t just mean people dressed like the main characters from Firefly. I mean, there was a whole unit of folks with Browncoat resistance uniforms. It made me happy.

I think the Mad Max group might have been a little smaller this year than it was last year, but they did make an interesting change from their presentation last year. Last year, there were dummies wrapped in shrouds tied to stakes on the front of the main vehicle. This year, the vehicle was back – with the addition of real people tied to the stakes, in lieu of dummies.

I was impressed. And a little creeped out. I was also left wondering how comfortable it was for the two men who were tied to the stakes. Granted, their feet aren’t going to hurt from walking the entire parade route. But, honestly, I couldn’t help but wonder how exactly they were affixed to their respective stakes. I mean, was there some kind of webbing harness, to support their entire body? Were they just tied on with a line or two around their chest and waist?

The reason I wonder is mainly due to costumer health concerns. The stakes they were tied to weren’t standing up at a 90¬į angle, so there’s going to be a certain amount of pressure put on the restraints used on each person, and what might be safe and comfortable at the beginning of a parade route – when everyone’s just standing around – might be excruciating after being bounced and jostled down a 1/2 mile of uneven Atlanta street.

As for me, most of the parade route was a breeze. Quite literally. The same breeze that had kept me cool on the walk to the staging grounds made the majority of the walk rather comfortable. There were a few places here and there, when we would step out into full sun, where I had to lift my head a little and gulp in some fresh air but, on the whole, I was doing pretty good. We happened to be in line right in front of a group of tribal drummers, who kept up a steady beat over the 1/2 mile and I ended up dancing along the entire time.

At one point, Maggie caused a bit of concern. I don’t think we’d been walking for all that long when it happened. One minute, she was standing beside me. The next, I saw this streak of red hair flying past one of my Kowl eyes and she was gone! It turns out she had been paying a little too much attention to the back of Scott’s furry underpants and not enough on where she was actually walking. Her heel caught on part of a manhole cover and she went DOWN! There was some gasping from the crowd and I was worried that she’d hurt herself badly enough that she wouldn’t be able to walk in the rest of the parade. However, she picked herself back up off the ground, dusted herself off, and resumed marching down the street.

By the way, if anyone has a picture of her eating it in the middle of an Atlanta street, she’s very interested in seeing it. She really wants a picture of her falling and I’m sure someone out there caught it on camera.

Oh, and before anyone raises a stink about me calling her out on watching Scott’s ass instead of paying attention to where she was going…she told me I could.

I have to say, I really enjoyed walking in the Dragon*Con parade. There were a lot of folks my age who got terribly excited when they saw that there was a Masters of the Universe group. People kept calling out “By the power of Greyskull!” There was even a little boy along the way dressed as He-Man.

Orko

Heather had a lot of people calling out “Orko!” The Sorceress was also posing for a lot of pictures, as well. Apart from He-Man and She-Ra themselves, I think Orko and the Sorceress were probably the two most photographed.

Very few people along the parade route actually knew who I was supposed

Before the parade

¬†to be, but I didn’t really care. Kids were mainly waving at me because I looked like a giant walking stuffed animal. Which, to be fair, I kind of was. I remember one kid, who was about eight, calling out to me “I don’t know who you are, owl-thingy, but you’re AWESOME!”

At long last we reached the end of the parade route. By that point, my legs were definitely starting to feel the after-effects of dancing for a half mile straight. The Dragon*Con powers-that-be had arranged for all of us parade participants to be greeted at the end of the route with volunteers handing out free bottles of water. I gladly accepted mine, somehow managed to figure out how to open it, and downed the entire thing in record time. Maggie found me a few moments later and let me know that she had snagged a second bottle for me, for which I was extremely grateful.

I told her later “I don’t care if it had been swamp water…I would’ve gulped the whole thing and proclaimed it the sweetest thing ever.”

Now, you might be saying “But Meg…you said the felt suit was actually pretty cool for the entire route,” to which I shall reply, “Yes, the felt suit breathes pretty well…not so the giant head made out of upholstery foam.”

Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’ve worn a giant, well-insulated head. My experience with my PPP Harry head meant that I was a little more prepared this time around, and knew that the first step to avoiding having a meltdown (or passing out from being overheated) is to remain hydrated. Also? Take regular “breathing breaks.”

I made sure I did both of these when we got back to the Marquis. Our group headed upstairs to the atrium level, where most of the pictures tend to be taken, and set up camp over against one wall. At one point we were joined by a girl dressed as Prince Adam. I didn’t notice her at first – giant foam head, and all that – but Maggie had seen her standing at the edge of the circle. She came to get her picture with us and Maggie told her she should stay.

“But I’m not in your group,” she replied.

“That doesn’t matter. You’re staying for pictures.”

She stayed. When Maggie tells you to stand for pictures, you stand for pictures.

The photo session was a lot of fun – partly because I got to kneel and sit on the floor for a while, instead of standing around like everyone else. Also, I was really getting a kick out of the reactions of the little kids who were coming by. Most of them had never seen a He-Man or She-Ra cartoon before and so didn’t know who exactly we were supposed to be. But there were at least four kids who took one look at me and wound up coming over to take a picture with all of us. Again, it’s that whole “Wow, a giant walking toy” reaction. Apparently I looked cuddly and non-threatening. I’m actually a little surprised by that – I mean, Kowl’s kind of strang-looking. I’ve got a giant purple beak. And great big floppy ears. I don’t really look like an owl. Well, not completely.

The best moment came from a family with two young boys. The oldest was probably about four and the youngest was maybe three years old. I had waved at them both and the oldest waited his turn to come take pictures with me. He stepped up shyly and stood right next to me, looking like he wanted to pet my head.

Now, occasionally, one has to watch out for the antics of children when one is dressed in a full-body-and-head costume. Kids sometimes like to punch. However, by this point in time I’ve had enough experience to be able to tell those kids who are going to cause problems from the ones who are just excited and a little shy about getting their picture taken with what looks like a giant toy. I knew this one boy wasn’t going to cause problems. I could also tell that he was a bit shy about coming forward and standing with us. I asked if he wanted to hold my hand for the picture. He smiled, nodded, and we all posed.

Now, his younger brother was sitting in a stroller, all strapped in for safety. His mom had been taking a couple of pictures of us. While she was doing that, the youngest boy kept waving at me. Naturally, I waved back. I chuckled to myself when I saw that he was trying to unbuckle the stroller strap so he could come over. His little hands couldn’t seem to get the buckle to work, so he started shoving it down, trying to get it over his legs.

Before he could get out of the stroller, his mom finished taking her pictures and started to wander off with him. I knew he wanted to come over to us, but I didn’t want to lift my head and call out to his mom to stop. Why, you ask? Because when I lift the Kowl head it looks like Kowl is eating me. That kind of image can traumatize a little child. Having had my own childhood trauma with a giant plush Shamu character (Yes, SeaWorld used to have someone dress up as Shamu for pictures) I had no intention of scaring small children.

Luckily, his mom noticed that her son was trying to get out of his stroller and realized he wanted to come over to see us. I saw him waiting patiently at the edge of our group and, when he got the okay, he walked up to us and sat right on my lap for his picture.

It was a moment made of win.

I’m going to be scouring the internet, looking for that picture in particular. I know it’s going to be adorable.

Eventually, the crowd around us started to lessen. Scott, Brittany and Helen all needed to head off for costume changes (they were going to be taking part in the Superhero photoshoot scheduled for later that day) and Heather, Maggie and I all needed to grab something to eat that was more substantial than an oatmeal bar. Before we went too far, though, we ran into a guy in a Skeletor costume. We had actually known about him before – he was supposed to be in our group in the parade but hadn’t woken up in time – and had seen him briefly in the bottom of the Marquis, out of costume. Although He-Man, She-Ra and Teela had already left we got him to mug for some pictures.

It really wasn’t all that hard. He had a number of very specific poses that he wanted to do. And I’ll say right now that he was probably the most in character of anyone I saw that day. The dude even had the Skeletor voice down! It was great!

My favorite of the Skeletor pictures.

After we parted ways with Skeletor, we decided to check out the sit-down restaurant over in the Hyatt. We beat the lunch crowd over there and got a seat immediately. I don’t know how, but all three of us wound up picking the same thing for lunch…the tastiest hamburger I’ve ever eaten.

To be honest, it probably wasn’t the best hamburger ever. However, my body was in “FEED ME!” mode and that lovely lump of protein shoved in between two halves of a bun was the most delicious thing I could have stuffed in my mouth.

One of my high points from the year before had been the Star Wars Costume Contest, and Maggie and I both wanted to catch it again this year. Luckily, it was again being held in the Regency ballroom in the Hyatt, so we didn’t have far to walk. The line wasn’t nearly as long as it was last year, but it was outside. We didn’t really want to wander back out into the Atlanta air, so we decided to wait a bit out in the Hyatt lobby. Eventually the ballroom opened up and the rather short line was let in. As soon as everyone else filed into the room, our group wandered over and went inside. The crowd for the costume contest was much smaller than it had been the previous year, which kind of surprised me. I suppose it’s just another example of how there can be too many things to do at a con like Dragon*Con. I imagine there were people in other panels who had also wanted to attend the costume contest but couldn’t be in two places at once.

The emcee for the contest this year was a local Atlanta radio personality. I didn’t catch his name…again, hard to write in my Kowl gloves. He was, however, a pretty good addition to the show. He chatted and joked with the contestants. He poked a little bit of fun here and there, but he was also clearly a fan of Star Wars.

The best moment of the costume contest came via a young boy dressed as a kilted Stormtrooper. He had obviously marched in the parade earlier that day. He came out carrying¬†a set of bagpipes and wearing a tam instead of a Stormtrooper helmet. The emcee chatted with him and when he asked if the thing the kid was holding was a weapon the kid responded “Yes, this is a weapon of mass destruction, cleverly disguised as a set of bagpipes.”

It was as though the whole thing had been scripted, but I know it wasn’t. The kid was just good at shooting from the hip, comedy-wise. The emcee laughed and said “You’ve just won the smart ass award,” and asked if the kid could actually play the bagpipes. He stepped forward, set up the pipes, and proceeded to play the main theme to Star Wars.

Folks, the entire audience gave him a standing ovation. It was brilliant. In that moment, the kid cemented winning Best in Show (technically, that happened later, but it was his appearance on stage at that point that did it).

There were a number of awesome costumes in the contest: an absolutely beautiful Queen Amidala (the woman gave her name as Penny “The girl no one likes to sit behind in panels,” due to the enormous headdress), two different takes on Darth Bane, and a Sock Monkey Leia.

After the costume contest, we headed off to go a-wandering. Maggie and I

At some point we went into the Armory exhibit...and saw part of a nuclear bomb.

 wanted to introduce Heather to the wonder that is the Walk of Fame, so we trundled off in the direction of the Hilton. This meant, of course, taking a little shortcut back through the Marquis. While we traversed the atrium level of the Marquis, heading towards the escalators, I was approached by a woman dressed like Sateen from Moulin Rouge.

I was rather impressed by her ability to run full tilt across a tile floor while wearing stilletto heels.

She ran up to me and asked “Where are you going?!”

“Uh…I’m going that way. We’re heading to the Walk of Fame.”

“Are you going to be wearing this costume all day?”

“Yeah. I’ve only got the one costume for today.”

“Okay. Are you going to be in this hotel later tonight?”

“Um. Yeah. We’re going to go to Mr. Star Wars around 7pm tonight, here in the Marquis, and then I think we’re going to be sticking around for the Alderaan party, but we might just wander around.” (Keep in mind that, for most of this exchange Heather and Maggie were unaware that I had stopped walking behind them)

“Okay,” Sateen said. “I’m going to be dressed as Catra tonight, and I’ve got friends who are going to be dressed as She-Ra, Sweet Bee, Castaspella, and we’ve got an extra costume which we may or may not use. We’d love to take some pictures with you.”

I grinned at the woman – at this point in the convention it was still rather

At some point, I spotted a K-9. He scoots around, and his ears move, just like in the show!

odd to have someone recognize what exactly I was supposed to be. Maggie and Heather wandered up about the time I was agreeing to keep an eye out for the woman’s group, and I pointed out that we had another Castaspella, as well as Orko from He-Man. They were invited to join in for pictures later that evening as well, and we parted ways.

We didn’t spend all that long in the Walk of Fame on Saturday. The trip over there that day was mainly to show Heather what went on and how things were set up. And to do a little light star-gazing, I’ll admit. There weren’t actually too many actors in the room at the time we were wandering about, but we did get to see a few people. Lee Arenberg was sitting at his table, as was his Pirates of the Caribbean co-star Martin Klebba. I spotted Luke Perry (yes, that Luke Perry) standing up over at his table, chatting with fans. I don’t know why, but I honestly expected him to look a lot older than he did. Perhaps because I remember watching him when I was a young whippersnapper myself (in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, not on 90210). He looks incredibly young in person, though. At least from where I was standing. Like a freakin’ Dorian Gray in the flesh.

Maggie disappeared at one point, only to reappear at my side a few minutes later, flustered and a bit pink in the face. It seems that, while she had been wandering around looking at the people behind the tables, Paul McGillion and Jason Momoa had walked past her, one on either side of her. When she told me about it, I turned to see them standing about 20 feet away from us, surrounded by a gaggle of teenage girls. Maggie admitted that she will probably always be starstruck around Paul McGillion, simply because he was the first big name she ever met.

I tried to stay more towards the center of the room while we wandered around the Walk of Fame, mainly because I was carting around a giant foam head with ears that poke off to either side. I had a couple of people wander up to me to ask about the costume. Most just wanted to know how hot it was in the costume.

By that point in the day I was, I’ll have to admit, getting a bit warm. The three of us retired to a hallway just around the corner from the Walk of Fame. We pulled up a bit of carpet (not literally, people) and took a well-earned rest.

I hauled off my Kowl head, pulled off the furry bib, and unzipped the felt suit, tying the sleeves around my waist. Heather pulled the box of instant cool-packs out of her messenger bag and handed me one. A quick squeeze and shake and I was in cool-pack heaven. At first I simply held the pack to my face. Eventually, though, I leaned back against the wall and just set the cool-pack on top of my head.

At one point, a group of guys wandered by. One of them looked over and down at me – sprawled against a wall in a random, bedraggled state of undress (well, kind of undress…I mean, I was wearing a tank top and the lower part of my Kowl costume) with a giant ice pack on my head and probably looking rather tired and hot. He paused and leaned towards me, asking “Are you alright?” in a very concerned tone. I smiled – or rather, I hope I smiled – and assured him that I was fine, just taking a breather from being in a warm costume. He nodded and moved on. I checked out his butt as he walked off, which I suppose was proof enough that I was, indeed, okay.

Maggie and Heather stepped outside for¬†a few minutes while I cooled off. There were a lot of superheroes assembling on the steps outside of that section of the hotel, and they wanted to get pictures. I honestly can’t remember if it was the Marvel photoshoot, or the Guinness World Record attempt at getting the most superheroes together. At any rate, there were a LOT of people in spandex out on the steps, contending with a healthy Atlanta breeze.

While the two of them were off taking pictures, I was enjoying watching random Star Wars characters saunter past my spot. The Star Wars meet-up had just finished up and, unbeknownst to us, it had been taking place over in the Hilton. I saw a lot more Slave Bikini Leias than I think I ever really want to see (I don’t necessarily have anything against people who wear this costume. I just think it’s overdone and people should perhaps look at creating a more original costume), as well as a guy who looked JUST LIKE HAN SOLO! If I hadn’t been sprawled out against the wall I might have chased him down.

At this point, Heather and Maggie came back inside and we all agreed that

Super Grover!

¬†we needed to grab some caffeine. Maggie and I knew, from previous experience, that there was a coffee shop in some far-flung corner of the Hilton but we couldn’t remember exactly where. We decided to wander down another floor and see if it was down there.

Thus began my favorite moment of Saturday.

The three of us took a nearby escalator to the next floor down, only to find ourselves in the middle of a huge open-air room where tons of table-top RPGs were taking place. Now, if our entire group had been made up of just Heather and I, in our fully-clothed and covered costumes, we might have received a few strange looks and then gaming would have resumed.

Maggie, however, was not wearing the same type of costume.

Oh, people…I know I’m a writer, and I’m supposed to be able to express a myriad of emotions and events in clear, descriptive prose that enables you, the reader, to know exactly what it was like to be involved in a particular event. Usually, this is the case. In this particular moment, however, words fail me. I am at a loss for what to write to convey to you exactly HOW awkward it was for the three of us to wander through this room of gamers.

The looks. The jaws dropping. Maggie’s hurried pace as she desperately tried to find the escalator that would carry us up and out of this hall of ogling. The flashes of cameras as gamers – who probably hadn’t seen a girl in a corset wander into their midst before that point in the con – hurried to capture the moment in megapixels.

I remember one guy scurrying forward, trying to take a picture of Maggie as she dashed to the escalator. A fellow gamer (with a particularly loud voice) said “Ask her to stop, don’t just run after her! Aw, she’s going upstairs, now you’ll have to chase her down!”

A part of me felt it was only fair, seeing as how we tend to ogle scantily clad or spandex-encased men at these conventions. I will admit to laughing hysterically inside my foam-and-felt Kowl head the entire time we were downstairs.

Eventually, we made it back to “our” section of the convention. After our brief trek into the land of RPGs it seemed more imperative than ever to get Maggie some caffeine. We found our way to the section of the Hilton where the coffee shop was. As we wandered around the corner in the downstairs lobby I spotted a girl in a wonderfully fabulous Bumblebee costume (original series design, not the new one from the movie). I asked if I could take a picture with her (her voice when she responded was the only way I could tell she was female) and we mugged for a few shots. I remember one guy wandering by with a camera going “Alright! The 80s!”

I feel it’s important to mention that I came across more folks in the Hilton who knew what I was dressed as than I had encountered in either of the other hotels up to that point. This was primarily, I believe, due to the age of the folks I was coming across in the Hilton. I saw more who were roughly my same age, whereas the majority of the folks we saw in the Marquis or the Hyatt were either much younger or much older. Of course, this is all just a theory.

I love lurking in the background of other people's photos! Heather took this one.

I became a creeper over at the coffee shop.

What’s that?

Okay, yes. I probably became a creeper a far longer time ago. Fair enough. In this case, though, I was very much aware of it. I happened to look over to my left as I stood in the line at the coffee shop and noticed a table of folks dressed in Star Trek uniforms. Sitting on the far side of the table was the spitting image of Scotty himself, James Doohan.

I did a second-take, and then a third one. The whole time I was thinking “Scotty? That looks like Scotty. Can’t be. James Doohan is dead. Not only dead but dead for a while. And his ashes shot into space. Did he have a brother?” At some point I realized I was staring and probably creeping the whole table out. I’m not sure I helped my case any when I gushed “You look JUST LIKE James Doohan, sir. Spitting image of Scotty!” He smiled, nodded, and the entire table got up to leave a short while later. I’m sure I had nothing to do with it.

Being able to actually drink in my costume=costuming win!

After we finished unnerving fellow con-goers and tossed our empty coffee cups we trekked back over to the Marquis, as we were just a little late for Mr. Star Wars.

I’m not going to go into much detail about this year’s Mr. Star Wars competition, other than to say that they had some really good contestants this year. When we got there, they had a number of guys up on stage, all trying to one-up each other in a Wookie mating call bit. Some were eh. Some were groan-inducing but mildly funny. And some were so hilarious that my sides hurt and I was worried I was going to pee myself. The best one was done by a contestant simply known as “The Blue Bullet.”

The Blue Bullet was a fairly tall, thin man, dressed in a blue spandex suit, wearing what looked like an aluminum foil diaper. I learned later that the foil was a part of a costume — but I’m not going to tell you which one until the end of the post. Mwahahaha!

Once again, the Pants Game figured prominently in the contest. We heard a

That's Han Solo in carbonite, in case you couldn't tell.

¬†couple of repeats from last year, which is to be expected, considering there are some incredibly memorable lines from Star Wars and they’re bound to be used over and over for the pants game.

In the end, the Blue Bullet was proclaimed Mr. Star Wars 2010. And there was much rejoicing throughout the land.

Chester Cheetah

After the panel let out, Heather, Maggie and I took to wandering the levels of the Marquis yet again. It being Saturday, things were much more crowded than they’d been the previous night. There were hundreds – more like thousands – of geeks wandering around in their finest costumes.

Somehow, in the midst of all the costumed con-goers, Maggie spotted the group of She-Ra characters halfway across the lobby level of the Marquis. She was in the middle of taking pictures, so she sent me off to make sure they didn’t wander off before we could join them. I scurried through the crowd and came up behind Catra. I tapped her on the shoulder and told her the rest of my group was on the way.

At that point, the rest of the women in her group turned around and saw me

Me and She-Ra

¬†and, as one, went “AW! You’re so cute!” They all remarked how I was the first Kowl they’d ever seen at a convention. Part of me remains surprised by that. I mean, I know he’s a random character but surely I can’t be the only person out there who went “You know what? I want to dress as a giant koala-owl.” The other part of me goes “HELLS YEAH! I’m the only one!”

Our big group eventually moved over to the side of the lobby, trying to find a better place to pose for pictures, as we were starting to block traffic in the middle of one of the walkways. Since the group was bigger now, I once again took a place down in front of the rest. I went ahead and slipped off my Kowl feet and kneeled on top of them, so I looked like I was the proper height.

In between photos, the other con-goers and I “talked shop.” Costumes, that is. They asked about the head, and I flipped it over to show them the inside. Like other folks I had encountered throughout the day, they asked about how warm it was. Again, I explained that the suit wasn’t too bad, but that the head made things a bit warm at times.

I asked about the construction of their costumes. They all had a pretty uniform look as far as the corset part of the costume went, and I asked what they had used. It turns out they had taken undergarments from David’s Bridal – specifically, the Smooth Seamless Long line Bra¬†– and dyed them the correct colors. Well, Sweet Bee said she had to do a fabric overlay for hers, as she couldn’t get the color to take. I later learned, from Maggie, that the woman dressed as Sweet Bee had made all of the costumes for the girls in the group.

Quite impressed!

There was a particularly neat aspect of Sweet Bee’s costume that I loved. I don’t know how many of you had or played with the dolls when you were younger, but the Sweet Bee doll had reversible wings. Sweet Bee (I’m going to just refer to them by their character’s names, as I don’t have the real names in front of me at the moment) had taken magnets and sewn them into a section of fabric that ran down her back, and sewn additional ones into the wings. You should’ve seen the look on the face of a fellow con-goer later that evening when she saw that the wings actually came off like the toy. It was great.

One of the cool things about hanging out with fellow costumers is that they obviously know what it’s like to be in a warm costume. Things were a bit warm up on the lobby level, and I was not as bouncy as I could have been. The girls made the decision to head down another level and find a place that might be even cooler. Maggie told me later “Well, we were all pretty warm, even though we weren’t wearing all that much, so we figured you had to be even worse.”

We ended up grabbing the corner where the Dragon*Con store had originally been operating. It was closed down for the night, so we had a lovely expanse of counterspace where we could stash our bags and water bottles and whatnot. We were joined by two gentlemen who were friends with Catra’s group, as well as Sweet Bee’s mother (actually, she had been with us upstairs). They were nice and made sure everyone was well hydrated and everything.

I couldn't help singing "Katamari Damacy!" when I saw her.

I decided to go ahead and break out my second cool-pack. I went ahead and tucked it up in my head for a little while as we took some pictures, but you don’t want it sitting on your head for too long. Otherwise you start to get a headache from the cold. I ended up stepping to the side for a moment to grab a breather. It didn’t take too long to cool back down and, before I knew it, I was back in front of the group for more photos.

I have to say, we picked a great spot for pictures! We were situated at the bottom of one of the staircases leading to the next level up, and there was a steady stream of foot traffic passing in front of us for most of the night. It was doubly nice – in addition to bringing an influx of people who were taking pictures, we also got to see a lot of costumes without having to expend much effort.

There was a particularly wonderful moment when Catra spotted another

Speaking of cats...a particularly wonderful Puss in Boots

 young woman wearing a cat costume, walking up the steps like an actual cat. She ran over to the staircase and batted at the glass, the way a cat will do. The two of them goofed for a few moments Рpeople snapping pictures the whole time Рbefore going back to their respective places.

A pair of furries wandered past at one point and one of them stared at Catra and I. He pointed at Catra and said “I want to play with the kitty.” Then he pointed at me and said “And I don’t know what that is, but I think I want to eat it.”

Peanut Butter Jelly Time Brian was a big hit with the drunks.

Unfortunately, there were a few run-ins with some inebriated con-goers throughout the night. In one case, a couple of frat boys ran into the midst of our group and posed, and one of them said “Now we’ve got proof!” before they ran off. I have no idea what that whole thing was about. Then, of course, there were the two drunk yahoos who were hanging around us for a good 45 minutes. They asked us to film a short video clip with them – which involved us doing fake laughter – and then they proceeded to stand just off behind us, near all our gear. At one point Heather wandered back to our group (she had left us earlier in the evening, as she wanted to take pictures of all the other costumes and didn’t really feel she belonged in a She-Ra group) and ended up having to talk to the guys. I don’t remember what finally made them leave, though I suspect it was simply that their supply of beer had run out.

As with the folks in the Hilton earlier, the crowd in the Marquis in the evening were a bit older and, therefore, a number of people knew who I was. It was great to hear people exclaim “Oh my gosh! You even have Kowl!”

Perhaps the best photo opportunity in the evening came when a guy dressed as the man from the Old Spice commercial sauntered by. Wearing nothing but a towel. And carrying a thing of Old Spice. We HAD to get a picture with him, and I’m quite happy about the way it turned out. I do believe it’s my favorite picture from the entire con.

Mmm...Captain Jack.

Shortly afterwards, another guy wandered by and asked to take our picture. He stayed to chat a bit after he got a few shots, and asked about my Kowl head. He wanted to know where I had purchased it. When I explained I had made it myself and turned the head over so he could see inside he looked at me and shook his head. “You’re in the wrong business, I think.” He insisted I look into costumes and props for a living.

Warm fuzzies!

Eventually, our group decided to pick up and move over to another section of the floor. We had been approached earlier by a woman whose husband had a professional set-up around the corner. He takes pictures at the con and then puts the work up for free for people who attended. We wanted to see about getting some shots taken but, alas, by the time we got over there they were packing up.

It turned out okay, though, as it gave us an opportunity to mingle with some other costumed con-goers. A pair of incredibly creepy zombies wandered up behind us, completely creeping out the other Castaspella.

While we were standing about I was approached by two women. The first stepped up and shyly asked if she could take a picture with me. I said “Of course!” and re-donned my head for the photo. We posed, and then she swapped places with her friend, who also wanted a photo. After we finished, they thanked me and stepped away, but the woman who had first approached me kept staring at me. After a¬† moment, she came back over to me and said “You were my favorite character ever. I’ve been coming here for several years and I’ve never seen someone dressed as Kowl. You’re my favorite! You’re great!”

I chuckled and thanked her. It kind of made me feel like a star. Even though

Ears!

¬†I’m not really the character – indeed, I have no connection whatsoever to the original show other than having watched it as a child and being dressed as one of the characters – it felt great to provide someone with the opportunity to “meet” a treasured childhood memory.

The next great photo opportunity came via a guy dressed as Leatherface. I’m not sure if he’s the one who originally asked for the picture, or if someone else had seen him in our vicinity and set it up (I was back inside my head again and couldn’t always tell who was saying what). At any rate, the picture involved Leatherface attacking me, me cowering in fear, and all the girls behind me giving worried and scared faces. I’ve been trying to find a copy of the picture but, so far, I’ve been unsuccessful. If anyone out there is able to track it down, please let me know.

It turns out Leatherface was there with a woman dressed as Little Red Riding Hood (who was holding the decapitated head of the Wolf). Her make-up was pretty cool. While we were milling about, Red asked me about the Kowl head. She was mainly interested in how I kept from passing out while wearing the head. As we chatted, I learned that her friend had actually been the one dressed as the Sock Puppet Leia earlier in the day. I was all excited, as I’d seen her walking about, and was sorry to hear that the woman was back up in their shared hotel room, relaxing on the bed and trying to recover from being in the costume head all day.

Red asked if I had any advice for those wearing costume heads and I told her my number one rules and suggestions:

  • If the head is big enough to allow for one, put a battery operated fan inside. It will make you MUCH happier.
  • Try to make the head as well-ventilated and easy to see out of¬†as possible – I really liked how the plastic canvas eyes on Kowl¬†didn’t really obstruct my vision and let in a little bit of fresh air.
  • Make sure you drink LOTS of water throughout the day. Not just a sip here and there. STAY HYDRATED!
  • Remembering to eat is just as important. Thank goodness I had packed a few granola bars in my small bag!
  • If you know that your vision or mobility in the costume is going to be

    This guy HAD to be hot in that costume!

    restricted, make sure you have a friend who can act as a handler. And make sure that person is actually okay with hanging around and helping you throughout the day. You need someone who is going to be attentive enough to know when you need a break – and sometimes they’ll realize it before you, yourself, know it. I was lucky enough to have both Maggie and Heather looking out for me throughout the day – as well as the women in Catra’s group.

  • If you start to feel woozy or tired or whatnot – take a serious break from your costume! It doesn’t matter if you really wanted to go to that panel, or if that con-goer really wants a picture of you doing a flying roundhouse kick at their head. Your first responsibility is to your health.
  • When constructing your head, try to use the most lightweight materials you can. Yes, you want the head to stand up to wear and use, but you don’t want to be walking around with a 20 lb head resting on your shoulders.
  • Test the whole costume several times at home before you bring it to con. Wearing it for five minutes at a time in your well air-conditioned house is going to be very different from wearing it for 12+ hours around a convention. (On a side note, I believe I wore Kowl for about 16 hours this go-around)

These, of course, are just a few of¬†the basic things you need to keep in mind when wearing a big costume head. I’m sure I’ll wind up posting more as I remember them. For now, though…

We’ve come to the NGB Costume Awards for Saturday!

Ballsiest Woman: A three-way tie between a woman we simply called “Pastie Butterfly,” a young woman dressed as Josephine Baker, and a cadre of women we referred to as “The Painted Ladies.” Apparently, pasties and full body paint were a big thing this year. Which makes me wonder…were the painted ladies ever able to sit down, or did they have to stand the entire time, for fear they’d rub off on the furniture?

Ballsiest Man: He-Man

Creepiest: Two zombies.

Best Oh-Holy-Crap! Moment: Seeing the Sorceress the first time.

Most Common Genre/Character: Ghostbusters and Thor

Best Random Find: SuperGrover!

Best Steampunk: Iron Woman and SuperGirl

Best Kid: Captain America

Best Stormtrooper: Budlight. Honorable Mention goes to the Indiana Jones Trooper.

Best Video Game Reference: This one had a tie – a character from Badlands, and a woman dressed as Cortana from Halo. Both of these were Maggie’s picks, by the way.

Funniest: A tie between Sock Puppet Leia and a guy dressed as a Barrel of Monkeys.

Best Budget Costumes: Tin Foil Star Wars! By the by…remember the Blue Bullet? He was the one dressed as Darth Vader.

Most Creative Star Wars creation: Jedi Clampett and Bubba Fett

Best Lookalike: Scotty

Best Group: Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail

Best Horror: Pennywise and victim, from It. And before you call me on having “Creepiest” AND “Best Horror,” I’ll point out that the thing that gets a costume chosen as “Creepiest” is that it makes me squeal and want to run the other way. Clowns – even murderous ones from Stephen King stories – don’t really scare me. Pennywise and friend simply had the best representation from a specific horror movie.

Best Comic Reference: The Cardboard Tube Samurai, from Penny Arcade.

Okay folks. That’s it for Saturday! Huzzah! It’s finally up!

Oh…except for another little tidbit…Heather wound up appearing in a short video shot by Chad Vader. She’s at the very end. Awesome!

Dragon*Con 2010 report #2: Friday

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.

No, really. Pick a number.

Was it six?

Sorry, that’s wrong.

Four?

Nope, lower.

Two?

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.”

Heather's make-up, at the beginning of the day.

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

I decorated my con bag with flowers when I dressed as Kaylee. I thought it fitting.

¬†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

These were actually women, but I didn't realize it at first. They carried around green "stands" with them.

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.

¬†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.

Maggie managed to find an Alien to take pictures of (who pet the facehugger that was on her back when she turned around) and even managed to find another woman dressed as Ripley!

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?

No, this is NOT Donato Giancola

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

These guys looked GREAT!

¬†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

Her hair was perfect!

 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.

Cardboard Cybermen

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.

Creepiest: The group as a whole was pretty creepy, but it was the woman dressed as a creepy doll that really won this one.

Most in Character: Two zombie guys we saw wandering around the con the entire day. They were wonderful.

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!

Funniest: One person representation of a Wonder Twins cartoon.

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 Video Game Costume: Goomba!

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.

Cutest: A little boy dressed as Toad.

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!