Monday, August 18, 2014

Dragon Con 2014: Heyo! It’s Dragon Con!

Worst. Title. Ever.

Sorry, Phantomaniacs. I know you expect better of me. But I have spent the last couple of months focusing on what I’m going to be doing at Dragon Con rather than what I’m going to be posting before Dragon Con. This is very different from the norm.

I mentioned in my Progress Report post that I wasn’t too sure what was going to fill these days before Con. Part of that is because of the necessary prep work for what I’ll be doing at Con this year, the other part is that I don’t want to do Q&As anymore. I relied very heavily on those to take up slots in the past, but now that I’m doing the podcast more regularly the written Q&As just seem too impersonal and formulaic to me. 
This, of course, creates the problem of what the heck to post.

This is where you guys come in. I am looking for stories about Dragon Con. I don’t care how long they are, how dirty or clean they are, or when they took place. If you have a Con-related story you’d like to share, send it to me at and I will post it here on the site. Be sure to include pictures (if possible), how you want to be credited, and any links you’d like to attach. We have less than two weeks before Con, so I’ll be posting your stories as soon as I get them.

Today I’m just going to write about whatever comes to mind that feels like good introductory stuff. Usually this sort of thing ends up getting a good response. I’ll have my usual feature on the costumes I expect to see, as well as a few posts about various specific aspects of Con. I’m also hoping to have some Guest Posts to put up. Needless Things is building a good team of writers and I hope everybody can generate at least one article about the best time of year.

As far as podcasts go, I’ve got three in the can – Episode 29 with Sean Patton and DJ Spider and Episode 30 with Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel of the American Sci-Fi Classics Track, followed by this Friday’s Episode 31 with Beau Brown, Stacey Gordon, and Madison J. Cripps of the Puppetry Track. I have a couple more potential episodes that I’m hoping to do, it’ll just depend on how everything pans out. One aspect of podcasting that is a little more difficult than the Q&As is actually getting people together for a live conversation. It’s a process.

Another thing that’s a process is finding out your schedule for panels. So far I have received three different schedules. As of right now I do not know for sure if I will even be on three panels that I was hoping to be on and that require a decent amount of preparation on my part. If I’m going to be on a panel about a franchise that had a toy line, I’m bringing toys. Bringing toys is no small task since I have to not only let the fine folks at Billy’s Toys & Comics know what I need, but I also have to haul it all down to Con. And if I get there with a big ol’ box of toys only to find out that I can’t do the panel due to schedule conflicts that is going to be disappointing to say the least. But that seems to be the nature of Dragon Con. It’s hard to nail anything down because of just how much is going on. So I’m just going to hope that I can be on as many of the panels as I can.

Speaking of which, here is the list of panels I am supposed to be on:

*Geek Year 1984: Classic Sci-Fi Roll-A-Panel

*She-Ra and the Panel of Honor

*Transformers: 30 Years

*Earth Station Who Presents: Doctor Who – Past, Present, and Future

*Whose EFF Is It Anyway?

*Late Night Sci-Fi Theater Presents: THINGS – 25th Anniversary
*80s Toys: From Cubes to Bears to Robots

*Conan the Destroyer: Crom Demands Tribute

*GI Joe:

*Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
That’s all good stuff, stuff I can get excited about. I want to be on every single one of those. Unfortunately four of them are currently scheduled for Saturday during the day and two of them are on Monday. I’ll be checking out and leaving Monday morning, so there’s just no way I can do panels then as much as I might like to.

As for Saturday, the first two schedules I got conflicted, with She-Ra and ESW both happening at 1 PM. She-Ra was one of the big panels I pitched last year and I can’t very well miss the ESW panel. But then I got a new schedule with She-Ra at 11:30 and Transformers at 1, which also doesn’t work because Transformers is another panel I was keen to do last year, to the point that I went ahead and cleared Gnoll to be on it.

So here’s my current list of scheduled panels:

*Geek Year 1984: Classic Sci-Fi Roll-A-Panel

*She-Ra and the Panel of Honor

*Earth Station Who Presents: Doctor Who – Past, Present, and Future

*Whose EFF Is It Anyway?

*Late Night Sci-Fi Theater Presents: THINGS – 25th Anniversary

*80s Toys: From Cubes to Bears to Robots

*Conan the Destroyer: Crom Demands Tribute

That’s minus times and days because I’ll go into more detail on each panel in a future post. I’m really hoping the get them all in, somehow. The schedule is an ever-changing thing.

There are so many other panels I’d love to do, as well – Buckaroo Banzai, Ghostbusters, (more). But there’s only so much time and so much of me to go around. Plus, the Track isn’t called American Sci-Fi Phantom Troublemaker. I don’t want to horn in on everything. It’s just that almost everything the Track covers is stuff I love.

And that’s kind of a good summation of Dragon Con itself – you just don’t get to do everything you want to do. There’s so damn much happening. Which is a fairly good segue into the next portion of today’s post:

The Secrets of Being Happy At Dragon Con: Part 1

The most important thing to remember – the key to true happiness at Con on Labor Day weekend – is this: before you arrive at Dragon Con, have a thorough grasp of the schedule, what you want to do, and where everything is.

Once you have your badge in hand and are ready to dive in, forget about all of that.

Okay, not really. You still need to have a solid schedule (preferably in your handy Dragon Con app, though I recommend having a hard copy of the Pocket Program as well) and an idea of where everything is located, but abandon all hope of doing everything on your schedule. Even experienced Dragon Con pros can’t do it all and will still severely underestimate the amount of time needed to get from place to place. It always takes me about a day to get my Con bearings and to accept that I’m just not going to make it to every panel I want to see (obviously I’ll make it to all of the ones I’m appearing on; barring conflicts).

Like many things in life, the key here is to just roll with it. Accept the things you cannot change, blah blah. It’ll reduce your stress and let you have a lot more fun. Besides, some of the best panels I’ve seen were ones that I went to just because I knew I couldn’t make it to one I had planned for. That’s how I ended up catching the improv puppet show last year. This year there are two of those and I highly recommend them.

Come back tomorrow for an all-new post from our pal, R.T. Ewell. Then on Wednesday I’ll have my annual costume speculation post, where I guess wrong about what will be the most popular cosplay subjects of the year.

The Secrets of Being Miserable Before Dragon Con

Look – I need to bitch for a minute. Feel free to not read this. I want all of this coverage to focus on the happy, wonderful time that is Dragon Con. But there are always frustrations, too. And I’m not talking about the panel stuff. That’s just the nature of Con and at the end of the day (or weekend) I’ll be glad that I wasn’t on more panels.

Side Note: I don’t know if I’m supposed to reveal this, but the folks from RetroBlasting are doing the TMNT panel, so it’s going to be really great. You should check that out.

My masks arrived this past Friday. I ordered three from my usual mask guy. I went down to the mailbox and was somehow just sure that they were in there. I had no reason to think they would be, I just felt like I needed to check the mail and, sure enough, there was a big ol’ envelope stuffed in the box. I ran up the driveway like a little kid that just got the mail-away Sgt. Slaughter figure he had been waiting six to eight weeks for. I was so freaking excited.

The envelope seemed a little light, though. And when I opened it up there were only two masks inside. And one of the masks had the wrong trim on the back. And the wrong design on the sides. And the other mask had extremely small eye holes. And both masks had covered noses, which is not what my masks look like. And the nose shapes were wrong, to boot.

And also, in case you missed it, one whole mask was missing.

I was – and still am – beside myself. Regardless of what kind of resolution I can arrive at with my mask guy, it’s too late. I planned these masks back in May and paid for them in June and Dragon Con is next week. I will not have the three new masks I had been so excited about wearing. And spent hours designing and explaining in a very careful manner so that they would be just right. That also flushes three whole costumes - or whatever you would call what I wear with masks – down the toilet and makes me have to figure out three new looks using what I have. I plan out my days and what I’m going to wear and now I have to find three fresh, new things in a week.

Disappointed does not even begin to cover it.

The other thing that’s been frustrating me – and this isn’t specific to Con – is the caps lock key. I fucking hate that thing. I accidentally hit it all the time because I’m a shitty typist and my fingers are huge and clumsy. Who the fuck uses caps lock ever?

Update: I spoke to my mask guy. He had a reason for the masks being wrong and the one mask being missing. I’m not gonna go into it because… I dunno. But I accepted it and we came to an agreement. I’m as satisfied as I’m going to get with the situation.

I am going to attempt to salvage one mask. The least wrong one just had a covered nose and small eye holes and an incorrectly shaped nose hole. That’s a lot of problems, but they are mostly cosmetic and result in a mask that is wrong but not unwearable. I’m going to cut the nose fabric out with an X-Acto knife and see how well I can deal with the small eye holes.

Here’s the thing – I am the only person who would know that the mask is wrong.

Functionality issues aside, if I just wore it as-is nobody would think anything of it.

But the problem still remains that it is made incorrectly and there’s no way around it. It’s been settled, but I still don’t have the mask I ordered. It’s like if you ordered a Megadeth shirt and got a Metallica shirt that was one size smaller. Sure, you’ve still got a shirt to wear and most people probably won’t notice anything. But it’s not what you paid for.

Click here for more details!
Anyway, I’ll be hosting a big ol’ nerd party Thursday night at Galactic Quest in Lawrenceville, GA. Guests include Tiki Zombie’s Michael Gordon and Peter Cutler, Big In Japan’s Timothy Price, and the creators of A Town Called Death.

There will also be live acoustic performances by The Casket Creatures and Ricky and Bambi of Radio Cult!

It’s going to be an awesome time and a great way to preceded Dragon Con week! Also, I might end up wearing that mask if I can manage to make my way around the house without running into things.


  1. Hang in there Phantom!! We phantomaniacs will be out in force at Dragon Con. We can't wait to see whatever outfits you put together. ~ Elizabeth

    1. This year will definitely be more about substance than style.