Monday, November 6, 2017

DragonCon Wrap Up Part 2: A LATE Finale

By Christina

Author’s note:  I apologize for the lateness in my DC conclusion.  A series of family tragedies delayed this piece being posted before our yearly 31 Days of Halloween coverage.  Truly sorry, but here is my DragonCon wrap-up finale.
 It has become a Saturday tradition with me and mine to use the parade time frame to shop in the Americas Mart.  The parade crowd is too much to deal with for us so we slip through the Marta underground and glide around the back of Ted Turner to get in to shopping central.  The teen and I went to blow our cash while the Husband left to the Gaming Hall in the neighboring building to jump into a Magic: The Gathering tournament, another family gaming addiction.  If you haven’t been able to tell by many of my previous reviews, my family are gaming addicts in every sense of the word.  You already have one gaming review from me as a result of this DragonCon trip (Betrayal At House On The Hill.)  I might just have to give a second one on the other new game we played while there…

The problem is that while the DragonCon Exhibition Hall in the Americas Mart is a Mecca of geek shopping, I am an admitted bibliophile.  I skip the shirts and the art (even though I ooh and ahh the pictures,) I skip the replicas and the autographs, and I go straight for those gorgeous books.  So I spent most of my time at the comic booths, at Half Price Books, etc.  And oh, was it worth it.  My daughter walked away with a 52.00 book on Cosplay tips for 10.00, I walked away with 30.00 in comics for around 14.00, a vendor offered us six books based on the Charmed TV series (that my entire family is hooked on) for 20.00, and then there was the matter of the Doctor Who Christmas novel, which made my teen and I both swoon.

I definitely have to explain that Doctor Who novel.  You see, we found this booth that was selling half price on all of their books, trade papers, comics, etc.  The teen found a Doctor Who Christmas book and we snagged it.  It was sticker marked 14.99 American, so good deal…7.50 for the sale.  Nice steal.  I get home, a five hour drive away several days later, and peel off the sticker.  Underneath the price is 13 Pounds.  They only marked it up by two numbers instead of the real value, which in American dollar value should have been 26 Pounds British currency.  They sold this freaking book to me for ONE FOURTH the price rather than ONE HALF.  I feel like crap for that, but at the same time, what a freaking deal!

I think we nearly destroyed our book-addicted minds with this shopping spree, but we shook it off and went to support my hubby in his tournament.  He was mid-match and the table was kind of busy with other players, so sitting down near him was kind of difficult.  So we left our bags with him and went next door to the arcade area.  The amount of insane Japanese games that they have in the gaming hall would blow anyone’s mind.  They are loud and bright and the place is mostly full of music oriented games.  And lots of dance games.  I swear I saw one guy who stayed in the gaming hall on the same Dance Dance Revolution game for two days straight, with workout gear and a sweat band on his head.  Legit.  But it kept us entertained so we can’t complain.  Plus the retro game section…oh my.  Joust, Mortal Kombat.  Heehee!  Granted, it wasn’t as full as it could have been, but it still had some major classics that made me smile.  I mean, who doesn’t love the old school Police Shooter

If you read my piece on Link from Legend of Zelda then you know that he’s my guy.  Sorry, hubby, but he came first.  He was my first crush, animated character or no.  So when the Triforce Quartet was playing I couldn’t resist.  We grabbed a seat and enjoyed the tunes, but it was more than we could imagine.  They not only played Zelda standards from various games that I will remember forever, but they went through a huge (and I mean huge) Final Fantasy medley, covering several of the games in the series, including the Opera from Final Fantasy Six (FF3.)  At this point I did something rather uncharacteristic of me.  I began to cry.  Don’t judge me, now.  This game series is a huge part of my life, my childhood, and my adulthood.  This game series is how my husband and I actually met: we had Cecil and Rosa from FF2 as our cake toppers on our wedding cake.  So when this started I just got a little, as Gypsy says in The Flash , “Schmoopy.”  It was the most beautiful thing ever. 
John Barrowman.  I could just leave the description at those two words and say nothing else, you know.  In all honesty, who really needs to say anything else.  His panel was at seven o’clock that evening, but we lined up at 4.  Tis a good thing that we did because there were already thirty people jumping in the line with us at that point and within an hour and a half they were threatening to shut the panel down if the “unofficial line” didn’t clear the area due to Fire Marshal restrictions.  There is a reason that he is one of the Con’s biggest draws.  If the man can shut down hallways then you know he’s something special.  He didn’t disappoint either.  When he struts the stage in a Wonder Woman costume all you can think is “That’s our boy.”  He said that he had told his costumers he wanted to “S$#@ bling” so they responded by being sure to put one gold star on his costume right over his blasted butthole.  Of course they did.  Because they work for John.  Stories of inspiration, stories that made us laugh, asking us to stay over several minutes to be part of his DragonCon interview, and lining up every man in the audience that wore a kilt on the stage so that he could lie on the ground and have them walk over his face to prove they were True, causing some of them to remove their underwear in front of him to be True FOR him... oh it was everything a John Barrowman panel should be.  During the “kilt off” John gleefully screamed out from the floor the sentiment that we were all thinking in our heads:  “I LOVE DRAGONCON!”

The Teen had come to be interested in Voltaire by going to his panel in 2016 in which he debuted his online TV Show, Gothic Homemaking.  The show, by the way, is freaking awesome.  She had yet to see him in concert, however, and had only heard a handful of his songs, so she hadn’t grasped the appreciation for him that my husband and I had over the years.  I wanted my husband to get to see one of his favorites and we wanted the Teen to be able to appreciate just why her Daddoo always loved this guy so much.  It was hands down one of the best experiences of the Con for all of us.  He sang several of our favorites, had the crowd in stitches as usual, and spoke at length about his life and struggles and how he overcame them…something I think that many in the crowd truly needed to hear, my daughter included.  The next night I went to his booth and thanked him for the inspirational words that he spoke at the concert, telling him that while I can say that kind of thing to my child, being a Mom she expects it.  Hearing it from someone she admires… it means so much more.  I walked away with an autographed CD for her and a message that made her cry:  “He told me thanks for bringing you to the concert, that he is thrilled we all had a great time, and he is so happy that he said something that made a difference to you.”  That moment alone made the Con worth it for me.

Our evening was concluded with several games of Betrayal At House on The Hill (see my review for details,) with dozens of people passing by our table wanting in on the action.  We might have bugged out sooner had we not had so many new games starting, but hey we didn’t care.  It was all awesome.  We played late into the night and slept in the next morning to enjoy more of the Filk track.

“Wake Up And Filk” was our first panel on Sunday morning.  A very intimate session with only a few filkers playing light and quiet with several awesome tunes that they either idolized over the years or had written from scratch.  Sometimes it is so relaxing to just sit in a quiet place like that and share tunes.  For a music lover like my teen it was a great hour to spend.  We went from the extreme of musical relaxation to fear and paranoia, however, when we hit the Apocalypse Rising Track for the panel on Surviving a Biological Apocalypse.  Specialists in the field discussed the possibilities and the unrealistic expectations that Hollywood has inflicted upon the masses in the event that such a thing were to strike.  From farming to food storage, medicine to aftermath ramifications, so much was covered.  And the slides that this track has available…man.  That alone was enough to make us want to attend.  You can go to their site link through and get the slides for your own use, offered by the Track.  Highly worth it as they are a wealth of knowledge for the survivalist/food storage guru.

The family has pretty much decided that our home track is the Filk Track.  We spend most of our time either gaming or at the Filk panels/concerts and it wasn’t planned.  We just sort of…migrated there.  “One of us…one of us” as it were.  We don’t regret it, however, as it introduced us to one of our favorite filk bands in history and the reigning King/Queen of Wizard Rock, the Blibbering Humdingers.  We got to hear all of our old favorites live and hear tunes from their new EP inspired by the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.  Props, humor, and the saddest and most moving tribute to Han Solo ever written.  It was the second time my husband and I had heard them live, but it was a first for our teen.  She was already star-struck the day before when she actually stood face-to-face with them in the Filk Track room the day before talking to them, so being front row at their concert just put the icing on her DragonCon cake.  That, and walking away with two new Humdinger CDs. 

The art show was right behind their stage area so having a family full of artists (I can’t even draw a stick figure) it was a requirement to go in and check it out.  All of the pieces were gorgeous, ranging in size and construct from canvas to oil, metal to porcelain.  Prints that were relatively cheap were available for some in a shop room nearby as were originals at the booths themselves.  The originals would range in price from low twenties up to the hundreds, which were reasonable.  But wow…we saw some pieces in the silent auction that had “Buy now” options of value in the thousands.  Thousands.  Somewhere out there I know there are people that come to DragonCon with that kind of wad to blow, but dang…the price tags made the three of us stop, stare at each other in silence, and walk slowly away from the table to avoid touching/breathing/standing near the expensive pieces.

The rest of the day was pretty much a split between the arcade and board/card games.  My husband’s best friend met us and after the two of them left to go have some manly fun (leaving the teen and I to steal a quick rest break,) we met up in the gaming hall to take on Unspeakable Words, the Cthulu based word game that is as hilarious as it is ridiculous.  Think scrabble, but in card form.  You spell a word and each card/letter has a point value.  Total that up after you spell the word and then roll a D20.  If you roll higher than your word score or roll a Nat 20, you pass.  Yay!  If you fail, then you lose one sanity point.  You lose all your sanity then your only saving grace is to start using the cards in your hand to spell whatever you can, even if it is gibberish.  You have C-G-A-D-P-V?  Spell Dvag and tell them that Dvag is the sub-minion for one of the mighty Elder Gods, or a foreign word used to describe an American Bistro.  Whatever peanut butters your jelly; just make something up.  You’re crazy now, after all.  First to one hundred points wins.  Have fun staying sane.

Our Monday was more low-key than normal.  The morning was spent with breakfast and taking down one of the DragonCon stores as it sold out quickly.  After we finished with that it was lunch time and then on to a panel that is our family tradition as well as our obligation as gamers to attend.  The “Worst. Gaming. Story. Ever!” panel.  There is nothing better than hearing the most horrific stories of failed gamers, failed DM’s, or failed campaigns in general, and getting to vote on who had the most horrifically hilarious tale to tell.  One day I shall share the story of how using a simple Druidic cure spell, I cured the Reavers.  That’s for another year, however…

Time to get back to work at this point and join the DragonCon Store Set-Up minions to break down the remaining stores of the sparse amount of stock that we had left as the Con bought us out of house and home.  By the way Con-goes, God bless you all for that.  The more you buy, the less we have to pack up and take back.  It is always more fun than it should be to set up and take down because the people we have worked with on the store staff we have worked with for years and it is more of a laugh and cut-up kind of party that has a “Work while you are goofy” theme.  Tis hard to explain unless you are a volunteer, which I highly recommend.  Between getting a free badge, shirt, and lanyard each year, you can get anywhere from one to three days of extra Con time depending on what department you volunteer for.  Who would not want extra time to hang around the host hotels with other Conners? 

And so my trip down memory lane concludes.  I will be back for more panels (speaking and attending,) more Filk, and more gaming, next year.  Who knows, I might just have to review Unspeakable Words as a result of this piece; the itch needs to be scratched.  Well met, fellow DragonCon peeps!  Live and be geek!

Christina Sizemore is trained in only four things:  writing, fighting, paranormal investigating, and being a mom.  At this point in her life she truly feels that she is not qualified to attempt to learn any new field.  A twenty year martial artist, mother of three, and writer who is working on the publication of her first book titled “Finding Your Way: A Guide To Your Path In The Martial Arts,” she spends her days working out, writing, making fanvids, going to DragonCon, and playing board games/video games/out in the yard with her kids and husband who are just as geeky as she is.  She is convinced that one day her skills will be of assistance in the Zombie Apocalypse and that while she is of no use in the kitchen, she can Buffy that zombie for ya or teach you the best way to get the blood stains out of your clothes (Psst…the secret is mixing Crown Cleaner and Shout.  Just sayin’.)

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