I attended my first full four day Dragon*Con Science Fiction and Anything Else We Feel Like Convention this Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. I had gone for part of one day a few years ago, but couldn’t get into any of the sessions I wanted to, so I left. This time, I had it all planned out, maybe a bit over planned, but I had a great time, met some really fun people, attended some sessions with people I really wanted to hear about, and saw a lot of costumes, and an amazing parade. Just for fun, I also handed out little posters that my friend Bruce created for me from an idea I came up with, "Rock Out With Your Spock Out. I both handed them out and left them on tables around the con, and I took photos of some trekkies holding them. I think they went over well.
Here’s some random musings.
At every session, there will be someone who asks a really crazy stupid question. If you had a chance to ask Morena Baccarin (Queen Lizard from V) one question, would it be, “ So, hypothetical situation, you’re in traffic and someone cuts you off. You yell the name of a Peanuts character. What character’s name do you yell out?” Yep, great question. For the record, she was a great sport and said “Charlie Brown”.
Speaking of Morena Baccarin, she is one of those people who is lovely according to the inverse square law, that being, the closer you get to her, the more beautiful she gets. Her session was first thing Friday morning, and the other actors from V cancelled, so it was just her and about a hundred fans. Aside from the idiotic question above, we all had a great time. She’s also charming.
Costumes. People put insane amounts of time and effort into these. Go here to see a bunch of excellent ones.
I find that I recognize about 20 percent of the characters, understand maybe another 20 percent (generic steampunk) and the rest, I have no idea who they are trying to be. Usually I assume it’s a general character from anime or some book series or videogame that I don’t know of. The level of detail and accuracy is absolutely insane.
At least this year there were no Gollums, which I did see the last time I went. There were several, and consisted of a skinny guy in a loincloth with thinning, greasy hair, crawling around. There were plenty of Zombies. I caught one not shambling, and told him to shamble. He said “Yes, sir” in a very good zombie voice, and shambled off. POWER! Not many furries there this time, but I did see a Furry/Ghostbuster. And "Mr." B. Natural.
So I wet to sessions with people from V, Stargate, Star Trek, Warehouse 13, Firefly, Eureka, and, Mystery Science Theater 3000. But the best sessions I went to were with my evil twin (or am I the evil twin?) Adam Savage from Mythbusters. Aside from Adam, I think the best guests were Martin Gero, a writer from Stargate, and Saul Rubinek from Warehouse 13. For me, the best speakers are funny and spontaneous, and most importantly, if they are asked the same question in two different sessions, don’t just spit out the same answer twice. One of the best questions I heard in several sessions was: “Did you steal anything from the set?” Most said no, and the others were honest. Scott Bakula asked if he could have one of his costumes from Star Trek: Enterprise, and they said no. Then, at a convention in Germany, a fan came up wearing the same costume that he had asked for, which he had bought at an auction. He was very mad. Garret Wang, another Star Trek actor said: “That’s why everybody steals something from the set, and nobody asks to!” The worst guest was Jason Momoa, from Stargate: Atlantis, who wore a hat and dark glasses, answered every question with a grunt or two, and apparently fell asleep. Nice.
The best party I went to was “Nuts on the Road”, which was an improv quiz show with Adam Savage, all the MST3K folks, and the creators of The Venture Brothers, which I’ve never seen, but now I want to, because they were very, very funny. One of the games is like a debate, and this year Adam Savage was told that he had to defend “Why Psychic Powers are REAL”. He failed miserably, but was hilarious doing it. Another game involved being given a statement about yourself that is either true or a complete lie, and you have to talk about it and answer questions, and then the other team has to say whether it was truth or a lie. TV’s Frank, it turns out, has written a Cinderella musical with Katie Perry. Nobody believed it, so he won that round. I’m going to this thing every year.
Now some observations about digital cameras. This is both about “real life” and for at the convention. Digital cameras are great, but it’s very strange how they have changed everything, and not all for the good. I sat behind one person with a high end camera on a tripod with a zoom lens. She had it focused on Christopher Judge, who played Teal’c on Stargate SG1, and although there were five other people on the panel, aside from her taking a few shots of each of the other panel members, she took a picture of his face, every two seconds or so, for the entire length of the session. Not kidding. You could make a flip book out of the photos. It was very OCD. Also, I saw a guy with a similar camera on a monopod, while on a line outside the convention hotel, waiting for a session. Now, there are a lot of young ladies in costume, and he would ask them for permission to take their photograph, which is customary. Almost everyone says yes. The women sitting across the street on the steps of another hotel didn’t say yes, because he didn’t ask if he could use his zoom lens to photograph up their skirts. Creepy! Super Creepy! Finally, I gotta say that it’s annoying when people have nice equipment, but have not a clue as to how to use it. Seriously, people, if you’re fifty feet away from your subject, inside or out, TURN OFF YOUR FLASH! It does nothing but illuminate the backs of the heads of the people in front of you, under-exposes your photo, and blinding and annoying the crap out of the people sitting next to you.
But, all in all, I had a great time. I saw some great friends, and made some new friends. I saw some amazing things, and saw some things I wish that I could un-see. And I only regret one thing. I saw a woman in a chain mail bikini, and my camera phone was out of batteries. I would have asked her for a photo, because, when I attended my first Science Fiction convention, CapriCon, in Chicago in 1984, I came up with my cardinal rule of SciFiCons: “Never, ever go out with a woman in a chain mail bikini, no matter how good she looks in it. Nothing good can come of it.”