Dragon*Con: The "down and dirty"

TyeDyeBoy

Spaceman
Well folks, we're less than five months out from the big DragonCon Extravaganza! Now strikes me as an excellent time to start discussing any information that D*C n00bs might need, as well as reminiscing about the awesome old stories of D*Cs past to try and convince more to join us in our revelry!

1 - What the bloodly hell is DragonCon?

D*C is a sci-fi convention held anually in Atlanta, Georgia. It happens in late August-Early September (this year it will be September 3-6) at a couple of hotels downtown. Recent years have had upwards of 20,000 attendees over the weekend. The events involved vary every year, but you can expect to see everything from classic Sci-fi (Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5) to fantasy (Lord of the Rings, Dragonriders of Pern), to horror (there are wannabe goths EVERYWHERE) to pretty much anything else even remotely related. There are discussion panels, costume contests, gaming events (lots of gaming... whole lot of gaming), live music here and there, and the list goes on. www.dragoncon.org is the official site, though it's down at the moment.

2 - Why would I want to go?

Are you kidding? It's a nerd paradise. Ever wanted to wear Spock Ears or Jedi Robes to school? You'd get laughed at, wouldn't you? That won't happen here, because everyone feels the same way. In addition to that, there are dozens of kickass chances to meet your favorite stars (Aaron Allston wrote some WC and Star Wars stuff, we've met him a couple of times, he's a great guy), and attend panels that they discuss genres on. Plus there are collectibles that you can't find elsewhere... though those get pricey.

On top of all of that, we do tend to have a great time amongst our tiny WC crew. The parade was a helluva lot of fun, for example. It is also incredibly cool to be recognized by other attendees. The first year a few of us wandered about wearing flightsuits, and a small party of Klingons joined us on the elevator and chatted about how great WC was.

3 - But aren't all these people freaks?

Yeah. You are too. Don't deny it. Give in.

4 - Ok, so what if I want to go. What now?

First you'll need to secure yourself a ticket from the Dragoncon website. They get kinda pricey, but are pretty well worth it.

Second, you'll need to make travel and hotel arrangements. Chris and the other guys tend to do a better job of that (I live in Atlanta, so I don't have to deal with this), and can advise you there. Plane tickets vary widely, and unless I'm sorely mistaken, hotel costs for sharing a room is something like $150-$200... please correct me if I'm wrong, which I'm certain I am.

Third, just show up. We have plenty of ways of meeting up, and planning from there.

5 - This is sounding expensive. It's expensive, isn't it.

Well, it can be, yeah. In the past I've recommended that those that want to come along have close to $1000 to blow on this, all told. Unless you're coming in internationally (talk to Hades about that), that should cover all of it from the plane to the hotel to your food, and leave you plenty left over for souvenirs, and believe me, you'll want to pick up something. Not an impossible sum to attain, but it does mean you'll have to get to work on a job now if you have nothing saved up yet.

6 - What if you people hate me?

We might, I won't deny it. If it helps any, most of the people that are complete pricks online end up being at the very least tolerable in person, though I'd imagine that part of that relates to the fact that, in person, we can beat you. We do try to keep beatings to the minimum, but we will accept no responsibility if you piss Hades off and he gets all Crazy British on you. Don't laugh, it's happened.

7 - What about food?

There are restaurants nearby, including two in the hotel. One of those is the infamous Champions Sports Bar, which we hit every single time because it's there and the food tends to not suck. It's tradition to get Chicken Fingers there at least once, FYI, in memory of good old Weasel who probably won't get to come this time. The bastard. There is also fast food for lunches and room service if you're terrified of leaving your room.

8 - What do all us WC people do?

We've come to a bit of a fork in the road, there. In past years we would often band together and mosey from one spot to another, but the group has just gotten too big. This year we will probably split and everybody do their own thing, possibly pairing neophytes with veterans if the n00bs are truly terrified, aside from a few group activities. These group deals will probably include: The Champions dinner; the Parade; possibly a large multiplayer WCP Advance session; hanging out in one of the rooms to watch the big costume party; hanging out during the Saturday night costume fest over in the Hyatt, possibly in costume (jury is still out on that). Oh, and the effigy. The effigy is the BEST.

9 - I've heard scary stories about this Danger Woman person. What if we run into her or others like her?

We're all scared, son. Hell, I still carry a knife just in case of her. But nobody is gonna hurt you except for us. If you haven't heard that story yet, I'll tell you later. It's a good one, and it's stories like that that keep us coming back. Well, that and the comeraderie, and the food at Champions. And the scantily clad women that are 'in costume.'

I'll answer any other questions that anyone has, add some more of my own FAQ stuff later, and tomorrow night I'll post some of our previous tales.
 

Cpl Hades

Mr. Kat
Yeah, Dragon*Con is great. I travel x thousand miles to get called a "little fucker" by the staff there. Well, by one guy on the staff there. And he was too scared to say that to my face.

But yeah, more international people need to go.

Also, I don't think Tye emphasized this enough: the dealer rooms are awesome. Swords, t-shirts, knives, daggers, anime crap, CCGs, comics, DVDs, porn, porn DVDs, bootleg DVDs, CDs, cloaks, plastic robots, Hitler action figures, dragon related merchandise.. I'm sure I'm forgetting something.
 

RFBurns

Spaceman
Cpl Hades said:
Also, I don't think Tye emphasized this enough: the dealer rooms are awesome. Swords, t-shirts, knives, daggers, anime crap, CCGs, comics, DVDs, porn, porn DVDs, bootleg DVDs, CDs, cloaks, plastic robots, Hitler action figures, dragon related merchandise.. I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

Wow...I will rush right out and file a flight plan to Atlanta, lease a lear45, pay 3,000 bucks for fuel and rental insurance, take time off from much needed work, let bills go to the wayside...all to join 20,000 + "nerds" who get jollys from porn dvd's and magazines?

I dont suppose everyone does the "Sieg Hiel" salute while they are whacking the dip stick watching some hoe on screen? :D

Im sure its all a "BLAST"!

Hope everyone has a good time out there.
 

Death

gh0d (Administrator)
Some random preparation-type stuff, from someone who's made 4 of the last 5 D*Cs (and will make this year 5 out of 6):

* Stuff an empty gym bag in your luggage or use a suitcase larger than what you actually need for bringing clothing. Anyone who wanders the dealer's room for more than a few minutes is very likely to wind up buying something. Have cargo capacity available to accomodate those impulse purchases, it will make you much happier.

* If you're going to take pictures, have lots of extra film or storage devices (regular and digital cameras, respectively) handy. Little sucks more, to picture wh0r3s, than seeing an awesome costume, but then find out you don't have any shots left on your camera, and no new film handy for more shots.

* It's not a terrible idea to go outside in large-ish groups. Not because of threats to your safety, but because the metric butt-tonne of street people in and around Atlanta will try to beg every last penny off of individuals.

* On the subject of money, keep it where you can keep track of it. The odds are against being pick-pocketed, but in 20K+ crowds, it's better to be safe than sorry. Front pockets on pants are generally easier to keep tabs on than ass pockets.

That's all that comes to mind, offhand, but there's probably more burried somewhere deep in the dark corners of my brain.
 

TyeDyeBoy

Spaceman
Cpl Hades said:
Also, I don't think Tye emphasized this enough: the dealer rooms are awesome. Swords, t-shirts, knives, daggers, anime crap, CCGs, comics, DVDs, porn, porn DVDs, bootleg DVDs, CDs, cloaks, plastic robots, Hitler action figures, dragon related merchandise.. I'm sure I'm forgetting something.
Bootleg porn DVDs, bootleg CDs, bootleg porn CDs, lots of medival costumes, lots of medival costumes that border on bondage equipment, bootleg t-shirts, airbrushed t-shirts done by people that really like drawing implied tentacle rape, dragon related merchandise at every other table,Japanese snack food, bootleg Japanese snack food, piles and piles of RPG dice of various types, fake lightsabres, nicer fake lightsabres, jedi robes, custom made contacts that apparently really really make your eyes burn but everybody and their mother has them anyway, stupid little magnet earrings things that blink in different colors just enough to make an epileptic shake like Mohammed Ali after an espresso, celebrities selling photos of themselves for $30 and autographing them for another $30, and Pokemon stuff out the ASS. And that's just in the LITTLE dealer room.

Plus, those people that sell the little plastic robots are quite well aware of the fact that they're selling CRACK in little plastic robot form.
 

rampage3057

Spaceman
If one were to come, and wanted to make one's own flight suit (like the bitchin' ones from the photos last year), how would one go about it?
 

Death

gh0d (Administrator)
Death said:
That's all that comes to mind, offhand, but there's probably more burried somewhere deep in the dark corners of my brain.
A few more items came to mind, actually.

* If you have a cell phone, bring it. They're invaluable in coordinating group activities. Even one of those send-only pre-paid cell phone dealies are better than nothing.

* If you get there a little early (most CIC folks arrived on Thurs afternoon last year, and probably did so the year before that), familiarize yourself with the general areas of the various tracks (groupings of panels on certain general subjects, like B5, ST, SW, Pern, etc) beforehand. Especially get familiar with the Hyatt, which has a kinda silly multi-level hop thingy to get between the two towers of the hotel.

* Take a few minutes to sit down and go through the panel grid, and mark some of the panels you're considering attending. With the wide variety of panel subjects, it's inevitable that you'll wind up having to decide between two panels in the same time slot (90 minute time slots; 60 minute panels, 30 minute buffer, at least in theory).

* Related to the previous point, don't forget things like scheduling eat times, either. You can only do so much on that box of pocky you picked up down in the dealer's room. Both of the main hotels are connected to an indoor strip-mall type thingy called Peachtree (almost everything in Atlanta is either called "Peachtree" or is connected to something called "Peachtree"... there's like 4 different not-minor roads in downtown Atlanta with "Peachtree" in the name) Mall, which has a whole mess of places to get food, arranged in the usual "foodcourt" type setup. With a decent dodging ability and some running, you can even grab a bite to eat between panels, during the buffer period. Most panels don't say anything against bringing in food to eat, but try to apply common sense... or find someone with that rare quality and ask for their advice. Don't bring in 5-course meals or otherwise be disruptive with your quick meal. Remember, when you pay for the ticket that means you have the privilege of being there (not a right to be there), and they have no qualms about tossing fuckheads out of panels. Read the back of the badge if you don't think they are allowed to boot your ass out.

* Unless you obviously don't look to be of legal drinking age (21 in the US), if someone asks if you're of age, the response is "yes". (I don't want to encourage underage drinking, but I'm not exactly going to be anal about 3 years between legal adulthood and legal drinking age, as I personally think it's kinda stupid that 3 years makes that big a difference when you're already legally an adult.) Don't be an ass or otherwise draw negative attention (projectile vomiting over the rails at the hotel counts as drawing negative attention... no, not personal experience), and you should be fine.

* Related to the above: if you do drink, try to have at least one sober (or at least mostly-sober) friend nearby. Even though you're not driving around anywhere (even totally clean and sober, ATL traffic is a bitch), it's the same general principle as Designated Driver, namely to have someone around who realizes when things are stupid and/or dangerous. With luck they may even try to stop you from doing them anyway, instead of assisting you in doing so.
 

TyeDyeBoy

Spaceman
Death said:
* Unless you obviously don't look to be of legal drinking age (21 in the US), if someone asks if you're of age, the response is "yes". (I don't want to encourage underage drinking, but I'm not exactly going to be anal about 3 years between legal adulthood and legal drinking age, as I personally think it's kinda stupid that 3 years makes that big a difference when you're already legally an adult.) Don't be an ass or otherwise draw negative attention (projectile vomiting over the rails at the hotel counts as drawing negative attention... no, not personal experience), and you should be fine.

* Related to the above: if you do drink, try to have at least one sober (or at least mostly-sober) friend nearby. Even though you're not driving around anywhere (even totally clean and sober, ATL traffic is a bitch), it's the same general principle as Designated Driver, namely to have someone around who realizes when things are stupid and/or dangerous. With luck they may even try to stop you from doing them anyway, instead of assisting you in doing so.
The Skeletal One is correct on this issue. Generally there's not a huge amount of drinking amongst the WC folk, but it is not unheard of. If you feel like getting a bit tipsy, it's a good idea to stick to your hotel room. It's where we tend to drink, at any rate. We don't make an issue of the underage thing within reason, but we're also not going to let you out if you do partake of the spirits. Or at least, not without someone with their wits about them.

As to responding 'yes' to the 21 question, there are certain establishments and events that are 18+ or 21+. No, not just the strip clubs. Chances are good you won't run into any problems along these lines, but if you can pass for 21, just try to make 'yes' the automatic response to that question. Unless you're trying to buy booze, nobody is likely to care if you're lying.
 

Cpl Hades

Mr. Kat
Hehe, Silas and Alex.

Oh, and since Death mentioned projectiles and rails, don't stand under rails. A cup full of ice falling from a rail nearly killed Frosty last year. But whoever it was missed so he doesn't get the bounty.
 

TyeDyeBoy

Spaceman
rampage3057 said:
If one were to come, and wanted to make one's own flight suit (like the bitchin' ones from the photos last year), how would one go about it?
One of the other threads in this forum has basic instructions. I'm far too lazy to go find it, but it should be detailed enough for someone with basic sewing skills and a sewing machine to be able to handle.
 
sounds like a blast. I went to a star trek convention when I was like...13 and almost got into a Bat'Tehl match with a klingon. Then i remembered I didn't have a Bat'Tehl.
 

TyeDyeBoy

Spaceman
Weasel noticed the distinct lack of storytelling here, so lets get some storying going on. I'll start off light by embarassing good old Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum.

There are a lot of celebrities at DragonCon each year, and it's quite common to see them wandering about as you... well, wander about. It's impossible to know them all at a glance, understandably. I mean, as Wing Commander fans, why would we care what the guy that played Zombie #3 in one episode of Buffy looks like? But there are bigger celebs to be seen there too.

One of the regular celebrities to attend D*C is rock legend Alice Cooper. If you're unfamiliar with the name, go Google him. He's one of the better metalhead artists of back in the day, and has always had a mild horror thing going on. He's generally easily recognized by strange outfits and some dark makeup.

One day (2002 I think), we were gathered about, probably about to go hit dinner. Joe and Paula showed up. Joe said unto us 'Hey, I ran into this guy in a great Alice Cooper costume, it was awesome!'

I'm sure some of you can see where this is headed.

'Uh, Joe,' I said, 'Alice Cooper is here..'

'What?'

'Alice Cooper is one of the guests here. I've seen him around.'

'Oh my god! I walked up to him and told him he had a great costume, and he kinda smirked and said thanks.'

Joe had gone up to Alice Cooper and told him that he had a great Alice Cooper costume. We had a bit of a laugh at his expense there.

But just think, potential D*C attendees! You too could go up to a random celebrity and start off a conversation by saying 'You know who you look like...?'
 

Cpl Hades

Mr. Kat
If I wasn't so lazy, I'd dig up the 2001 thread where the Danger Woman story is told. But I'll let Tye do that. Or just retell the story himself. He tells it far better than I. Partly because I spent the whole time frozen in fear.

Oh, and somebody needs to tell the George Lazenby story.
 

TyeDyeBoy

Spaceman
Yes, it is time to retell the Danger Woman tale.

DragonCon 2001, Monday. Everyone had left except for myself (since I live in the area), and Hades. Hades was flying out the next day, but due to a scheduling mix up, he was going to be staying with me that night. I got up to the hotel and met him, we lugged his suitcases and such to my car, then decided to wander around a bit to see if we'd missed anything.

Our journey led us to the large dealer room, and after a halfassed circuit, we agreed that there was nothing new to see. This dealer room is held in a large ballroom, with several doorways leading to it from the main lobby. We were about ten feet away from the doors back to the lobby when an overly loud voice stopped us dead in our tracks.

'HAY YOU GUYS!'

Like most human beings, we turned around to see if we were the guys being adddressed, and we were astounded to see what stood before us.

It seemed to be vaguely human, or perhaps a hobbit. It was five feet tall or so. It wore purple pants that were a bit too tight for it's pudgy body, along with an identically matched purple shirt (I want to say it was crushed velvet, but the memory is hazy and the fat might have blinded me). It also wore a simple eye mask, like one might see at Mardi Gras, that was in that all too familiar purple. It had a backpack, and a belt bag, and a mop of dark curly hair on it's head. It (we later decided it was a she) stood looking at us expectantly.

I can't speak for Hades, but in the stunned silence in which we stared at the thing I was overcome by a sense of wonder, and more than a little awe. I don't know why. But it was shattered as it spoke, again in an overly loud voice. It... she... was not three feet away, but felt the need to shout at us.

'DID YOU GUYS HEAR ABOUT THE GAME THAT WAS BANNED AT GENCON?!?'

After pausing to cast an unsure glance at Hades, I found my voice. 'Uhm, no.'

'YOU DIDN'T?!?!?! IT WAS THE GAME THAT WAS BANNED AT GENCON!!!!'

In this instant, wonder, awe, and uncertainty gave way into definite fear, and not a small amount of terror.

'Really...'

'DO YOU GUYS KNOW THE NAME OF THE GAME THAT WAS BANNED AT GENCON?!?!?!'

Another glance at Hades assured me that he was as concerned for our well being as I was. We were under the impression that our previous assertion that we, in fact, did not know the game that was banned at Gencon (which, incidentally, is another convention that happens somewhere in the midwest... I want to say Minnesota) was enough evidence of the fact that we were unsure of it's name for most human beings to grasp.

'No... no we don't.'

'YOU DON'T?!?!?!'

'No.'

'IT WAS THE GAME THAT WAS BANNED AT GENCON!'

Fear had, by now, become abject terror. If the being in front of us was human, or some close relative thereof, then clearly it wasn't stable enough to comprehend the concept of 'no' or 'we don't know' or the unspoken body language that, I'm sure, said in no uncertain terms that we were uninterested in this mythical game banned from Gencon.

Let me take a moment to explain a bit further our distress. We were only ten feet from the door, from potential salvation. Yet we found ourselves frozen with terror, unable to cross the final distance. But even this relative safety was in question, because for all we knew it was capable of following and, surely, devouring us. We were entirely unprepared for the horror that was just around the corner, however.

'YOU GUYS ARE PRETTY COOL, I'M GONNA TAKE YOUR PICTURE.'

Hades and I gasped at the same moment, eyes wide with fear, no longer trying to hide it. It reached into it's belt bag and withdrew a camera. I was busy trying to decide on a fighting stance appropriate for the situation, and I was having difficulty as I've had no formal training in the subject of deflecting cameras.

'OH DARN, THE BATTERIES ARE DEAD. THAT'S OK I'LL GET YOUR PICTURE ANOTHER TIME.'

Hades spoke up with a simple 'No you won't.'

'HA HA YOU'RE PRETTY FUNNY.'

Hades again found his voice. 'And you're a bloody psycho.' I was mildly surprised at this, because until now I'd not seen anything of Hades other than a perfect British gentleman. It was only a hint of seeing him get all Crazy British during the effigy the next year.

The beast laughed. 'ANYWAY, DO YOU GUYS KNOW THE GAME THAT WAS BANNED AT GENCON?!?!?'

After the threat of the camera, it was with some small amount of relief that we moved back to this familiar territory.

'THERE'S A BOOTH FOR IT OVER THERE!!!!' Without turning she pointed in a direction implying that the booth was somewhere in the large room, but not much more specific than that. 'DO YOU GUYS WANT ME TO SHOW YOU WHERE IT IS????'

'Yes.' I couldn't believe that I'd actually said that. In retrospect I can only believe that I was delirious with fear. But she turned to take a step and lead forward, and seeing an opportunity, we bolted for the door. We must have covered the ten feet in less than a second, and were out of the hotel in less than ten seconds, out of Atlanta only a few minutes later. The rest of the day was spent watching over our shoulder for the Purple Terror.

But the story doesn't quite end there....

You see, the next year we saw her again. Luckily it was from a safe distance, but we found out that this thing had a story. She called herself Danger Woman. She was, in fact, some sort of live action roleplayer (she'd alluded to it in our previous conversation, but I can't remember too specifically what she said, so I skipped it... the first encounter lasted around five minutes). She'd participated in DragonCon since the early days, and had acted the same way throughout. Several of the regular D*C staffers said that she was generally credited with getting the ball rolling on D*C, helping to spread the word and draw the visitors, even though she was frequently mocked (GEE I WONDER WHY).

The staffers threw a party for her one year, and all chipped in to get her a $500 lifetime membership to D*C. Meaning she's there every year. And yes, we have spotted her all three years.

She also has a website, though it hasn't been updated in a long time. You can see the terror here. http://www.angelfire.com/ga3/DangerWoman/

To this day, I come to D*C armed in some small way, just in case. In 2003 it was a near thing, we passed within just a few feet of her again, fortunately unnoticed.

So you see, folks, DragonCon is an adventure!
 

TyeDyeBoy

Spaceman
I struggle on to lure others into the ritual of the Convention! After reading over this, it occurs to me that the uninitiated have little real understanding of what DC is other than a land of porn, funny costumes, and freakish people trying desperately to raise awareness of the game banned at Gencon.

In light of this, allow me to get into the real meat of the DragonCon experience: Panels.

The point of the convention isn't just to wander about in costume and harass folk that are trying to buy their shitting-dick-nipple-hentai in peace. The point is education, and getting back to people you met there and sharing memories, like we're trying to do here. Most of this comes in the form of the panels, the discussion groups. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these panels, all designed to promote awareness, to answer questions, and to just share with strangers the feeling of 'You know that part where Thrawn died? That was cool.'

Here's a quick summary of a few panels I/we have hit.

1- The Anime Panel, Dubs vs. Subs
In a relatively small room there was packed around 40-50 people. Three of the area's biggest anime fans were the discussion members, and they led the discussion in the regards to how the decision to dub or sub is made, why so many dubs sound alike, and why some are good and some are bad. The discussion did get heated at times (I brought up a point with one of the panel members while an argument was raging elsewhere, in regards to fansubs spelling it 'Arucardu'. He agreed that it was a load of crap), though no chairs were thrown. Non-anime fans wouldn't enjoy this, but most anime fans present found it entertaining. I learned a lot, and walked away a better man.

2- The Star Wars Celeb Panel
There are dozens of Star Wars events, but this one is one of the more popular. Although the celebrities aren't always big ones, we do enjoy hitting this most years because Aaron Allston tends to be there and we molest him afterwards. In the instance of 2002, Aaron and... I want to say Kathy Tyers was there, as was David Prowse (wore Vader's armor in the first set) and that other dude, he always wears makeup but had like 20 characters in Episodes 1 and 2. It was awesome. The authors fielded a ton of questions about their writing experiences, and Prowse had some of the coolest stories about filming and the other cast members (at one of the other conventions he saw Carrie Fisher again, and he asked if he could have her autograph. She signed it 'To my real father.'). The last guy was busy making nervous jokes the whole time, but still had neato stories. Questions were fielded from the audience, and it was a grand old time. Though not as heated as the Anime one.

3- Designing your own Game
We hit this one this time by, I seem to recall that Chris thought a WC guy would be on the panel, and wasn't. No matter. It was chaired by two of the WhiteWolf authors, which is a big RPG group. They were offering advice on how to go about getting your game copyrighted, showing it to RPG publishers, etc. It would have been a lot more interesting to myself if I had been working on such a thing, but it came across as annoying. They wouldn't shut up about copyright infringement and getting everyone who looks at it to sign an NDA and so on. Legal crap. We left disappointed.

4- The Annual Star Wars Costume Contest
D*C hosts a big overall costume contest, but the Star Wars one is always pretty awesome. Sometimes the costumes are extremely well done, like the recent family of Tusken Raiders. Some aren't so well done. Others are just silly, like this one guy that was like 500 pounds and said he was 'an A-Wing pilot,' as if he could have fit in one. A good time is always had by all, and the ceremony is especially cool as members of the 501st, a Stormtrooper armor-wearing group, always provides 'security.' In 2002 we had a great bit of drama as one of the jedi struck a pose and her knee went out, collapsing her. One of the stormtroopers jumped up on the stage, flipped like three hidden buckles in his armor sending bits of it flying, and helped her up. It was an awesome moment, as well as an excellent display of the coolness that everyone feels towards one another at this whole event.

That's just a teeeensy sample of what goes on. There are also lightsabre duel tournaments, workshops on building special effect stuff like costumes from scraps, Tolkein Elvish language shops, and so on. The list is huge.
 

Death

gh0d (Administrator)
Thread bumped for relevance, partly because people are too lazy to look through the forum archive for previously asked questions.
 
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