Monday, August 29, 2016

Dragon Con 2016: Phantom's Big Post

Dragon*Con starts Thursday!

This is the post where I take a look at the Pocket Program and run down what I’m doing at Con, as well as what panels I’m interested in seeing and which events I’d like to witness. For my purposes today, the PDF on the website is easier to follow, but I highly recommend you download the Dragon Con 2016 app.

This year I’m going to start by focusing on what Needless Things is actually involved in, then cover all of the stuff I’d just like to see.

I am, as of this writing, as prepared as I’m gonna get. I threw my back out last week and have been hurting for days, but that seems to be getting better. At one point I was questioning if I’d be up for going to Con at all (yeah – that bad). But I kept working on everything and got my shit together regardless. I work all year for this and there isn’t a word big enough for how devastated I’d be if I couldn’t go to Dragon Con.

Masks are ready, suits are clean, games are planned, prizes are packed, and liquor is…
SHIT. I need liquor.

But otherwise everything is ready to go. Every year I mention the need for a packing list and I’ll reiterate here – YOU NEED A PACKING LIST. Even if you don’t do costumes, there’s just too much important stuff that you need to maximize your Dragon Con experience. Chargers, backup batteries, water bottles, non-perishable snacks, plenty of socks and underwear; all of that sort of thing. I usually take three showers a day at Con, and putting the same stanky underwear back on is NOT AN OPTION.

Side Note: The showers aren’t just to get clean, a nice cold shower can revitalize and recharge you. And also help you cope with all of the sexy cosplayers you shouldn’t be looking at.

I think this is my biggest year ever. I haven’t reached our pal Director Faber’s epic 73 panel schedule, nor do I intend to, but I’m extremely excited about my stuff with the Classics Track, my first appearances with the Horror Track, and The Dirty Dirty Con Con Game Game Show Show, which is back and bigger than ever (#ballroom).

Yes – seriously. That’s how Dragon Con is. I’ll explain below. This is but a tiny sampling of all of the delights available at Dragon Con. For now, grab your copy of the Pocket Program or open up your Dragon Con 2015 app – available from iTunes or the Google Play Store – and follow along!

Also be sure to attend all of my panels and give them a 5 out of 5 in the app.


Thursday – It’s official – there is now sanctioned programming on Thursday night. Among the events scheduled are Nerdy New Year (the countdown to midnight), the 8-Bit Ball (featuring DJ Spider!), and Dragon Con Wrestling (featuring me talking).

DC TV – One of the most magical components of Dragon Con. Every year, a special channel run by Con volunteers is broadcast in the Host Hotels. The channels for DC TV are:

Hyatt Regency: 56
Marriott Marquis: 74
Hilton Atlanta: 65
Sheraton Atlanta: 68 or 72
Westin Peachtree: 81

DC TV features not only live and rebroadcasted panels from Con, but also sketches and music videos from some of the greatest and funniest nerd minds in the land. I am not being hyperbolic when I say that this is the greatest television channel that has ever been. I will put it on when I arrive on Thursday and keep it on until I leave.

DC TV will once again be broadcasting the incomparable Dragon Con Parade live so that you can enjoy it from the company of your room. Not to mention that the broadcast version will be accompanied by the sharpest and wittiest narration available. Plus, this year for the first time the Parade will be broadcast on the local CW affiliate, so if you’re in the Metro Atlanta area you can watch at home!

Here’s the BIG news – Dragon Con TV will be streaming this year. For $10 you get all of the programming from DCTV during Con and for three months after. This includes DCW with my commentary! I WILL BE STREAMING. You can purchase this from the Dragon Con store.
There are, as of yet, no plans to stream The Dirty Dirty Con Con Game Game Show Show.

Badges – Badge checks are ongoing. It won’t be as easy for freeloaders to crash, as security will be checking badges at night and during high traffic times. Good. Wear your badge at all times. Do a double check before you leave your room. It sucks to miss a panel after waiting in line for an hour because you didn’t realize you didn’t have your badge.

Hotel Bars on Sunday Night – They close at midnight. PLAN ACCORDINGLY. Additionally, from time to time the hotels will try to crack down on what I call “thrifty drunks” – people who bring their own booze. Be prepared to respect their authority in whatever way you need to. They’re just doing their jobs. There’s no reason to give them a hard time. I’m not suggesting you bring cups or find alternative means to transport your liquor. I could never publicly endorse such behavior.

Comics Artist Alley – This is a BIG change. One of my favorite parts of Dragon Con is now located in AmericasMart, Building 2, Floor 3. It’s weird and different and it scares me, but I assume this provides more space than the overcrowded room in the Hyatt. I hope it proves to be an upgrade for the artists.

Registration – At the Sheraton, starting at 10 AM on Thursday.

Walk of Fame – This is where they store the famous people. It is located in the Marquis Ballroom on the Marquis Level of the Marriott Marquis.
Marquis. Marquis. Marquis.

Got it?

Incidentally, this is the same level where the excellent American Sci-Fi Classics Track is located and where I will be doing many of my panels. If you’re facing the Skybridge to the Hilton, we’re to your right.

Hotel Vaping Policies - The host hotels classify vaping as smoking. As such vaping will not be allowed inside the buildings except in designated areas and “smoking permitted” hotel rooms. Generally, vaping areas are not separate from smoking areas. If you have questions about your hotel’s “no smoking/no vaping” policies or designated smoking areas, please check with the hotel concierge desk or hotel staff. (I just cut-and-pasted this one because I was personally excited to see it)


Alright, Phantomaniacs – it’s time to tell you all about the Needless Things portions of Dragon Con!
Description: The most incredible wrestling show of the whole year. The best independent wrestlers from all over North America gather to put on a show like no other! Plus, yours truly is the Voice of DCW! As much as I love all of the things that I get to do at Dragon Con, this is the highest honor that has been bestowed upon me. In a way, DCW is a huge part of where I am at Dragon Con today.
This year DCW kicks off Dragon Con on Thursday night, so be sure to add it to your app schedule!
Time: Thu 07:00 pm Location: Hyatt Centennial Ballroom (Length: 4 Hours)
Phantom Troublemaker Presents Toy Stories
Description: You know how Toy Stories works! Myself and a selection of kickass panelists will bring toys and share personal stories about them. PLUS you, the audience, can bring your own toys to tell stories about.
Time: Fri 04:00 pm Location: M103-M105 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Panelists: Phantom Troublemaker, Joe Crowe, Noel Wood, Rebeccah Hunter, The Rad Ranger
The Shining v The Shining
Description: The Shining is discussed, ranging from King's original novel to Kubrick's film.
(I am so stoked for this one! It’s my first appearance for the Horror Track, I love Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and I actually did research for this thing. I read the novel and watched both movies in preparation. I have things to say.)
Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: Peachtree 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel
Tentative Panelists: Richard Kadrey, Phantom Troublemaker, Karen E. Taylor, Thomas Mariani
How Horror Fans Raise Kids
Description: Sharing our interests with the next generation without scaring them to death.
(I’m also super stoked for this one, mostly because it’s more about experiences and personal stuff than relaying facts about B movies. Not that I don’t love B movies, but this is a nice change from the usual pop culture fare. I’m going to go ahead and say I think it’ll be one of the most compelling panels all weekend. The only potential issue is that parenting is a very sensitive topic. I’m going to be very conscious of how I present my opinions and beliefs.)
Time: Sat 11:30 am Location: Peachtree 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Tentative Panelists: Stephen H. Segal, Valya Dudycz Lupescu, Phantom Troublemaker, Catherine M. Scully
Phantom Troublemaker Presents Con Con Game Game Show Show
Description: You all know that that title is wrong. I might have an ego, but I would never put just my name on this thing, as nice as it is to see it all big and stuff in the programming. I requested a change, but who knows if it’ll go through? For now that’s what
The Dirty Dirty Con Con Game Game Show Show
is called in the app. We have games, we have prizes, we have Miss Lady Flex and The Rad Ranger and Popeye the Sailor Moon. We even have SURPRISE CELEBRITY GUESTS. And it’s all dirty.
I couldn’t be more proud because this year for the first time we are finally in a ballroom! I’m not going to give away any more than that, but be sure to show up early because there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to turn away just as many people this year as we did last year.
Time: Sat 10:00 pm Location: Regency V - Hyatt (Length: 1+ Hour)
Panelists: Miss Lady Flex, The Rad Ranger, Popeye the Sailor Moon, Phantom Troublemaker
The Heroic History of GI Joe
Description: Blue lasers. Red lasers. A ninja who owned a wolf. Knowing GI Joe is awesome is half the battle.
(I AM ON A PANEL WITH LARRY HAMA, WHO IS LIKE GOD BUT FOR GI JOE. I promise you that Mr. Hama will be doing the bulk of the talking, even if it means I have to whack someone with a spiked football on a chain. This is amazing.)
Time: Sun 02:30 pm Location: M103-M105 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Tentative Panelists: Larry Hama, Phantom Troublemaker, Gary Mitchel, Noel Wood
Sci Fighters: 80s Action Heroes vs. 80s Wrestlers
Description: If 1980s movie heroes fought '80s wrestling superstars, who would win? You decide!
(This was amazing last year. We set up a tournament of Masters of the Universe versus GI Joe. Snake-Eyes won and Skeletor got robbed. This is a panel where audience participation is HUGE.)
Time: Sun 05:30 pm Location: M103-M105 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Tentative Panelists: Phantom Troublemaker, Joe Crowe, Gary Mitchel
Big Trouble in Little China: 30 Years of Very Unreasonable Things
Description: Relax, everybody! This 30th anniversary panel is here.
(My favorite movie of all time.)
Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: M103-M105 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Tentative Panelists: Phantom Troublemaker, John Hudgens, Will Price, Jason de la Torre, Shaun Rosado, Gary Mitchel
Legacy of the Blind Dead
Description: A discussion about Spain's notorious Blind Dead franchise, celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016!
(I can’t make this one because I’ll be Puppet Slamming. Or can I? I think the timing could potentially work out. I’m going to try my hardest. Either way, Needless Things Irregular Jerry Chandler is going to be there, so the Knights Templar will be done justice.)
Time: Sun 10:00 pm Location: Peachtree 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Tentative Panelists: Jerry Chandler, Doc Rotten, Bill Mulligan
The Shape, The Snake, The Thing: Films of John Carpenter
Description: You got horror in my sci-fi! You got sci-fi in my horror!
(This one is, unfortunately, out of the question. But I’m still listed for it, so I thought I should mention it.)
Time: Sun 11:30 pm Location: M103-M105 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
Tentative Panelists: Michael Falkner, Gary Mitchel

This is the stuff that’s in my app or that I might just be interested in doing. Obviously it isn’t all going to happen. Most of it isn’t going to happen. That’s just one of the things you have to accept about Dragon Con. This year I’m not adding anything that conflicts with my own panels. Because that’s silly. I might double book a few things, though, because you never know where you might end up.

This isn’t everything I’m doing, it’s everything I’d like to do if there were three of me and two of them could manage to stay sober.

Oh, and I didn’t even bother looking at Monday. I never do anything but pack and hit the road on Monday, no matter my intentions.


*Nerdy New Year Party  - 8:30 pm; Atrium Ballroom [M] – Is it possible for Dragon Con to have co-opted something that the fans came up with? Observing the official start of Con has unofficially been a thing for years. But now it’s officially official. Lots of bands are playing and it should be fun. I’ll still be flying solo out in the lobby. If I see you, I’ll see you.

*Bunny Hutch Party & Costume Contest 10:00 pm; Imperial Ballroom [M]; 4 Hrs – I couldn’t get into this (or remember where it was, actually) last year, but I’d like to check it out.


*Fast Times with Judge Reinhold 11:30 am; Intl. N [H] – Are you kidding me? This is awesome!

*Brian Henson’s Evolution of Puppetry 11:30 am; Imperial Ballroom [M] – I so badly want to catch one of his panels, and this might be the only one that fits into my schedule.

*Firefly Guests – 11:30 am; Grand Ballroom [S] – I bet Adam Baldwin and Alan Tudyk are a lot of fun. Or they get into a stupid political argument. Ugh.

*Quiet Time with Doc Hammer - 1:00 pm; Grand Salon East [H] – This is in my hotel and there’s plenty of time before Toy Stories. I might do it. I do love Doc Hammer, even if he does find me and Rad Ranger off-putting.

*Sam J. Jones & Melody Anderson: Saviors of the Universe - 1:00 pm; Regency VI-VII [H] – The stars of one of the biggest movies of my childhood – Flash Gordon.

*Larry Hama: The Art of Storytelling - 1:00 pm; 204C [AM2] – I’m going to try not to stalk Larry Hama all weekend.

*Puppetry for TV and Film 2:30 pm; A704 [M] – This is an incredible lineup of panelists. The first puppetry panel I ever saw was similar, but focused on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Recommended.

*Heroes R Us – Flash and Arrow - 2:30 pm; Cent. II-III [H] – DC’s shows might have a few issues, but the stars are not among them. I’d love to see them together on a panel. I can’t remember the last time I saw a good, full TV show panel.

*Gotham – In the Shadow of the City - 5:30 pm; Atrium Ballroom [M] – I won’t have time for this between Toy Stories and the Shining panel, but I really want to see Sean Pertwee talk. I’d prefer a career retrospective type thing, but I do love Gotham.

*The Science of The Fly and Aliens - 5:30 pm; M103-105 [M] – Celebrate two anniversaries with one of the smartest dudes I know – Doctor Scott Vigue. Seriously – he’s a genius. This’ll be great, but I bet I’d only understand twenty-five, maybe thirty percent of it.

*Searching for the Cryptids! - 5:30 pm; Savannah 1-3 [S] – I’m always up for a good cryptid hunt!

*Pin-ups by the Pool Party – 8:30 pm; Pool & Courtyard [S] – I’ve always wanted to attend this, and now that DCW is on Thursday I can! The Sheraton pool is absolutely gorgeous and is the perfect setting for such an event.

*Attack of the Celebrity Improv – 8:30 pm; Reg. VI-VII [H] – This features many of the more comedic guests doing improv. I’d like to see it. But I’d also like to hang out at the pool.

*Fan Fic Theater with Chris Gore - 10:00 pm; Cent. I [H] – I’d love to take part in this, depending on what it is. I think I could improv my way through a story, but I know I could write an award winner.

*Suits, Sinatra, and Star Wars – A601-602 [M] – This sounds like a Star Wars party with a swingin’ aesthetic. And I’m up for anything that requires fancy suits.

*Metalstorm and the Legend of 80s 3D Sci-Fi - 10:00 pm; M103-105 [M] – Our pal Daniel Griffith from Ballyhoo Pictures and Episode 80 of the Needless Things Podcast hosts this one. It’ll be good.

*Sci-Fi TV Shows You Thought No One Else Remembered - 11:30 pm; M103-105 [M] – This is a big part of what the Classics Track is all about. Bring your weird, obscure memories and I guarantee someone else will not only remember, but will turn out to be a huge fan.


*Classic Sci-Fi Roll-A-Panel: Forbidden Planet, Body Snatchers, and More - 8:30 am; M103-105 [M] – 42 panelists and counting. Guaranteed fun. Too early.

*15th Annual Dragon Con Parade—LIVE/REBROADCAST ON DC TV - 10:00 am – It’s a spectacle like no other. Seeing it in person, on the street is astounding. Once. Fortunately you can now watch DCTV or the CW or the streaming feed.

*Inside the Director’s Studio: Brian Henson - 1:00 pm; Grand Ballroom E-W [Hil] – Another potential opportunity to see one of my heroes.

*Batgirl Runs Into Motor Crush - 2:30 pm; 204A [AM2] – I knew Babs Tarr was going to be at Dragon Con again, but I didn’t know that her creative partners Brendan Fletcher and Cameron Stewart would be in attendance, as well. This is exciting. I’m going to have to make a point of bringing some Batgirl comics.

*Buffy & Angel Guests - 2:30 pm; Grand Ballroom [S] – Someday we’ll get around to recording the Buffy season 2 episode of the Needless Things Podcast.

*The Legacy of Hammer Horror - 2:30 pm; Fairlie [H] – I love Universal, but Hammer is where I started. Daniel Griffith from Ballyhoo Pictures and Episode 80 of the Needless Things Podcast is on this one, too!

*Hair-Raising Hilarity: Werewolves and Comedy - 2:30 pm; Peachtree 1-2 [W] – I love werewolves. Plus, Peter David is on this one.

*Making Ha-Ha with Harley Quinn – 4:00 pm; 204A [AM2] – Conner and Palmiotti. Guaranteed gold.

*The Puppetry of BB-8: Most Adorable Droid in the Galaxy – 4:00 pm; Grand Ballroom E-W [Hil] – Featuring the guys behind BB-8, who is, yes, a puppet!

*iZombie Cast – 4:00 pm; Centennial II-III [H] – I love this show and I bet the cast is a hoot and a holler.

*Gotham – Secret Stories -  5:30 pm; Atrium Ballroom [M] – This would be the Gotham panel to see, as it includes Penguin, Bruce, Alfred, Butch, and Lucius. No Fish Mooney, sadly.

*Sideshow’s Court of the Dead -  5:30 pm; 204 F-H [AM2] – I don’t know what, exactly, this is, but Sideshow Collectibles has a brand called the Court of the Dead. I’m very curious to know what they’re doing at Dragon Con.

*Timey Wimey Puppet Show - 7:00 pm; Imperial Ballroom [M] – This brushes up against me not being able to have time for it, but it’s a fun, must-see show.


*Classic Sci-fi Roll-a-Panel: The 80s - 10:00 am; M103-105 [M] – Another opportunity to get up way too early and watch sixty panelists reminisce about twenty random topics. I really would love to be there, but 10 AM on Sunday at Dragon Con is a concept that I never intend to become familiar with.

*100 Years of Zombie Evolution in Pop Culture - 10:00 am; Chastain F-H [W] – This is one I’d love to be on. Beth would be better on it, actually. But Anthony Taylor is one of the speakers, so it should be a very good panel. He’s great.

*iZombie Cast – 11:30 am; Peachtree Ballroom [W] – I don’t think that I’m more likely to make this one than I am the Saturday one, but I’m noting it anyway.

*Firefly Guests – 11:30 am; Atrium Ballroom [M] – This one gives you the most Guest bang for your buck, though Tudyk is missing.

*Challenge of the Super Nerds - 1:00 pm; M103-105 [M] – I’m going to make every effort to show up for this one. It should be a lot of fun. Plus, the Joe panel is right after it.

*Reel Monsters: Cryptozoology and Horror - 1:00 pm; Peachtree 1-2 [W] – I’ve loved cryptids since I was a kid. This panel is right up my alley.

*Venture Bros - 5:30 pm; Atrium Ballroom [M] – It’s only the best television show that has ever aired.

*The Late-Night Puppet Slam (Mature Audiences Only) - 12:00 am; Peachtree Ballroom [W] – There’s no excuse for missing this. It is one of the three best things at Dragon Con. And this year it’s in a bigger and better room!


*Shooter Jennings – Friday at Midnight; Cent. II–III [H] – I’m still a bit mystified as to how he fits in with Dragon Con, but he certainly has worked with an eclectic group of artists. I plan to be here to find out what’s up.

*DJ Spider – Sat 3 AM; Atrium Ballroom [M] – I plan to still be up. DJ Spider’s dance parties are can’t miss events – the best mixes you’ll hear all year.

This year is going to be amazing. There’s so much happening, but I feel like it’s all spread out perfectly. Unfortunately that spread doesn’t leave any time for a Needless Things Meetup, but I expect to see you all at one panel or another. Especially The Dirty Dirty Con Con Game Game Show Show.

Search for "Phantom Troublemaker" under Speakers in the app, as well as under Attendees, because they haven't streamlined that yet.

See you this weekend!

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If you’re here checking out Dragon Con stuff and haven’t visited Needless Things before, thanks for coming by. Me and my writers post five times a week about toys, movies, music, and all manner of pop culture dorkery. I do the Needless Things Podcast once a week.

And definitely come back in October for our 31 Days of Halloween! It lasts all month long and everything on the site is thoroughly Halloweeny! 

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