Friday, July 31, 2015

50 Days of Dragon Con Day 38

A Pet Peeve

I go to a lot of different kinds of panels.  I go to celebrity panels, writer panels, fan panels.  If you can think of a type of panel, I have probably been to one of them.  If you go to a panel with any sort of famous or seni-famous person there is inevitably one stupid person in the crowd.  Celebrities, authorities, filmmakers, whomever will have multiple panels through out the con.  Each and every panel if there is a time built in for questions the same questions get asked time and time again.  Some panels have good moderators that before the Q&A begins they put limitations on what kinds of questions can be asked.  These moderators are my heroes.  THANK YOU to all of you out there that put the limits out there.
Every celebrity panel you get a "Can I have a hug?" or "will you sign your name plaque for me?".  UGG it is so annoying.  For the writers, filmmakers and the such there is inevitably the "how did you get into the business?"  UGGGG REALLY!?!?!?!?!?!?!?  HELLO!! Some of these folks have been in the business for so long that their experiences are out of date and not really applicable to the current times.  These questions irritate and annoy more than half of the audience and yet they are always asked.  I can not imagine what the 'celebrities' think of all of this nonsense.  I really wish these idiots would get a clue and stop asking the same questions time and time again.
Thank you, once again, to the moderators who do not tolerate this and to those who put the disclaimer out there to begin with.


50 Days of Dragon Con Day 39

Blood Drive
I donate blood one time per year.  I donate at Dragon Con.  Years past there was a dreadful line at registration that often took more than an hour to get through.  Once you got through the registration line you picked up your program bag and headed out of the Sheraton.  On the way out there is the registration for the LifeSouth Blood Bank.  Years ago you could go through the blood bank  line and donate before some of your friends got through registration.  A few years ago a few things changed.  First, registration got a bit faster.  Second thing was that more and more people started to donate instead of the long registration line. Again, this is another line so it is a great place to talk to people.

I have a pretty desirable blood type so they always ask me to be a part of this machine that splits my blood up and then puts some of it back.  Pretty cool really.  This process takes a bit longer than the standard process.  No biggie really.   Sitting in the blood drive last year I was there (in a chair both in line and while donating) while Marc was in the line for the Dragon Con store.  LOLOLOL  He got done about 10 minutes before I did and he was standing in line the whole time.  HA HA.  This is yet again another line but, for this one you are sitting in air conditioning and have a new program to look at.  Pretty cool.

The folks at LifeSouth have been doing this drive at con for so many years they have the process down pretty perfect.  Everything moves pretty quickly.  They even give you snacks, drinks and a blood drive/con related shirt.  The shirts are always pretty cool.  The blood drive is in the Sheraton with registration.  They have moved their secondary location this year and it will be in they Hilton.  I am not sure where in the Hilton they will be.  I do know that the are now there.  I can not help bit think that this is a mistake.  In previous years the axillary drive was in the Marriott right behind the cross walk to Peachtree Center and the Hyatt.  They had a nice little niche and it did not add so much traffic to that already congested area.  Since donating is not on a specific time line there was not a great addition of timed congestion like the end of a panel will cause.  I know the folks that organize the con must have a reason for doing this and I kind of look forward to seeing what they do with that space.  If you get a chance to donate, this is a great place to do it and I whole heartily recommend it.



Sunday, July 26, 2015

50 Days of Dragon Con Day 43

Who did that?

Every con is filled with celebrities in various themes.  There are movie and TV personalities, writers, artists, musicians, scientists, puppeteers and other professionals.  Moving anywhere through out the con you will bump into any number of people.  Now, they might be a 'celebrity' in an area that you are not familiar with so you might not know who they are.  Everyone, and I mean everyone who has attended con has at least one celebrity story.  Attend many years of con and you will have many stories.  Here is one of my many stories.  One day I was in the Hilton on my from the ground floor to the second and all of a sudden there was a shout and a blur. I was in a queue to get on the escalator.  The queue paused and stepped back.  There was a group of people coming at us pretty quickly.  All of a sudden someone breaks from the pack and takes a running leap onto the escalator.  As I am in watching I see and 80+ year old Stan Lee laughing and looking back down at us.  HOLY COW...not only did someone just do that, it was Stan freaking Lee.
Talk about cool.

50 Days of Dragon Con Day 40

All inclusive.
When I was trying to get my Mom to come to Dragon Con she had two major arguments against going.  One was that she was too old.  LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL You are NEVER too old to go to con.  The second argument was that she was not in the best shape of her life.  OMG!  I had to work hard to convince her that she would not be the oldest by far.  Also she was lucky.  While she may not be as spry as she used to be, she was able to walk.  MANY people who come to con have all sorts  of disabilities.  Hell, there is and entire department dedicated to helping those who may need it. 

I took all sorts of pictures of people of all ages, sizes and mobility levels.  Even with photo proof she thought she was in the minority.  Now, years later she is still surprised at how many people her age that were there.  I do not see why she is shocked.  Nerds, dorks, geeks, whatever you want to call us come in all ages and sizes.  There are people I have talked to at con well into their 80's.  My Mom has quite a few years to go before she catches up to them.  Disability services alone is unbeatable for what they do for people who need assistance.  OMG!  There are hundreds of people that Disability Services assist every year and without their time and generosity so many great people would not be able to attend. 

Facebook has Dragon Con groups for almost everything you can think of.  There is a group called DropbyDragonCon for those trying to lose weight.  A group for folks who are over 40 years old.   There is even a group for people new to con.  Not to mention all of the groups for the individual tracks themselves.  Check some of them out.

DropByDragonCon
DragonCon Newbies
Dragon Con over 40

I have been to many many cons and I consider Dragon Con to be my con or better yet, my home con.  Kind of like it is my home.  Of all of the other cons I attend, Dragon Con is the most inclusive of everyone of every size, shape, race, religion, mobility level, or any other person you can come up with.  I am so proud to tell my friends I come here every year.  I can not believe what an amazing job the con and all of the volunteers do to make this so accessible and enjoyable to everyone.  To all of the people involved in this con I not only congratulate you for such an excellent job, but I thank you for all of your dedication and hard work.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

50 Days of Dragon Con Day 41

Travel

I have always had to travel long distances to get to Dragon Con.  First from the west coast and now from Colorado.  Airfare prices keep going up.  They keep adding fees and making baggage restrictions smaller.  As I do not have a lot of money, I try to save the money I do have and spend it at the con and not on luggage fees.  Each year seems to be a challenge.  I go before con and stay after so this is a full week.  I know I will buy things at con but still, I need to bring enough for before the con begins.  Cosplay has always been at a minimum because of travel.  Souvineers have always been limited because of shipping.  In the past I have resorted to shipping dirty laundry home and that cost me $50.00 so was not a big savings.  Also, shipping did not get my clothes home until over a week after I got home from con. 

Something I have found out is wait and study the airfare.  Yes, it is always a risk to buy now or should I wait longer or did I already miss the cheap point?  Study Study Study.  Use websites like Hipmunk help to compare prices.  I have found that paying for first class-yes it can be pricy-saves me in the long run.  Since Delta is the main airline in and out of Atlanta, I have been using them for the last several years.  I have chosen to pay an additional hundred or so dollars to get first class and then I get my carry on and also a free checked bag.  WOO HOO!!! I can not explain how much of a help this is.  On the way there, I pack my carry on suitcase and then put it inside of the much larger checked bag and check it.  YAY A less cumbersome time at the airport.  Then on the way home I have plenty of room for all of my collectibles, clothes and, anything else that comes my way.  This also avoids security asking me what all of my stuff is.  I do not have to worry about if I have enough of what ever solution to make it through the week in the tiny 3.4 ounce bottles.  UGGG That can be a pain in the butt too. 

For anyone who has to go the airline route, I recommend looking at first class and definitely watch airline prices....Study them and it will save you big money in the long run.


50 Days of Dragon Con Day 42

Lines

Dragon Con unlike many other cons does something I like.  They clear out each room after every panel.  This means you can not camp out in a room for 6 hours waiting for the one panel at 5pm.  YAY!  That being said, for some of the smaller panels and for all of the large celebrity panels there are lines to get into the room to see said panel.  The lines are usually organized and very few times do you have people cutting.  Yes, there is always someone holding a space for a friend or two.  That happens, no biggie.  I have never seen someone holding double-digit or more spaces.  When the room opens up they file you in and set you down in a very organized fashion.  There is not a way to hold several seats empty beside you.  I am so glad for that.  Especially with the recent news about the goings at San Diego Comic Con.

The lines to get into the rooms are not supposed to start lining up until 1 hour before the panel.  This does not always happen.  Lines sort of begin forming when the first brave and dedicated soul decides to start the line.  Lines are one of the best ways to get to meet people.  You know they have some sort of interest in what you are in line for.  Instantly there is something to talk about.  Often you can see games being played, books being read and even sometimes music being played.  I have been in many many lines and with the very rare exception I have had an excellent time and have met some of the best kind of people.  I have learned new things and seen other points of view.  It is wonderful to get into a debate about who is the best hero or worst villain of that specific genre.  This has happened on more than one occasion and I look forward to learning new things every year.

Take some time and enjoy the line you are in.


A line winding around the outside of the Hyatt

Thursday, July 23, 2015

50 Days of Dragon Con Day 44

The best last panel of the con.

Every year Monday is kind of a bummer.  It is the last day of the con, I am exhausted from 3 hours of sleep for 3 days.  Many people pack up and leave for their drive home. I go home on Tuesdays.  On Monday there is still programming but it usually ends around 3.  Over the years I have had trouble finding good things to do on this last day.  Many of the tracks do a "how did we do panel".  These are great if you have been to many panels for that track.  I tend to wander between hotels and tracks and, well, the con.  With all of this wandering I do not feel all that great contributing when I did not go to the majority of their content.  One year I decided to go to one of these re-cap panels.  That last minute decision was one of the best I have made at the con.  I went to a Tolkein Track end of year recap panel on a Monday afternoon.  So far, all of the last panels on Monday in the Tolkein, non...zero...zilch have ended at their usual time.  They have all gone over.  Last year Larry the track director showed us pictures of his trip to New Zealand.  They were on the set of one or the Hobbit movies.  SOOOOOO cool.  For a Tolkein nerd such as myself, this was AMAZING!  If you are still at con Monday afternoon you should check it out.  This is a great way to end a perfect weekend.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

50 Days of Dragon Con Day 45

Mom

At my first Dragon Con I knew that this was the place for my Mom.  There were so many authors here and her passion is reading and writing.  When I got home from year one, I groveled, begged and called in any favor I could get so that she would come.  Finally after months of groveling she said she would come.  YAYAYAY!  Mom lived in Fort Worth, TX at the time and so it is a pretty quick flight.   Mom thought she should be prepared so she printed out the zillion page PDF of the schedule and attached it to a clipboard.  She was going to study what she wanted to do on the flight.  On her flight the person she was sitting next to was also going to Dragon Con and they chatted the whole way. 

I met Mom in the check-in line of the Hilton where she was once again talking to someone.  She is amazing.  I had already picked up her badge so we dropped her things off in her room and hit the ground running.  I wanted to make sure she was having a good time and not alone.  There were many things that we wanted to do together and others not so much so.  She did her thing and I did mine.  After check-in we encountered Mildred and then went and had lunch.  At one point Mom decided to take a nap.  Mom is not as spry as she used to be (bad knees).  Instead of napping I bumped into her sitting on the floor of the Westin.  I about fainted.  It had been probably 10 years since I saw my mother sit on a floor.  HOLY COW! 

The incident at the Westin was not the only time she 'fibbed'.  I bumped into her more than once in Peachtree Center when she said she was napping.  LOLOL She was so cute.
Mom met authors, actors and even paid a zillion dollars for some autographs on the Walk of Fame.  She bumped into William Shatner and thought he was a bit of a jerk.  She met Terry Brooks and was enchanted.  She bought a tee-shirt.  Mom, in a tee-shirt...now way...but she did it. 

Mom swears she had a great time and I truly hope she did.  I had a blast with her.  It was so good to be able to share this part of my life with her and I hope she will be able to come back again soon.

Monday, July 20, 2015

50 Days of Dragon Con day 46

Mildred

I mentioned Mildred a few days ago and I thought I would tell you about her.  I have come across Mildred over several years and this story spans several years.  I first spotted and noticed Mildred my first year at the con.  Mildred is probably in her late 30s and has a pretty cool streak of gray in her hair.  I first noticed Mildred attending many of the same panels as I did and saw her in the food court, common areas, lines, etc.  I do not know her real name because if she spoke during panels it was kind of off topic and I was kind of weirded out by her, to be honest.

My second year at con I took my Mom (more back story on that later).  My Mom and I got in a really long line-thank goodness we were close-ish to the front.  We were in some shade in the Hyatt courtyard waiting for Regency V.  After awhile in this line we kept directing people to go behind us and, yes, this was a panel for so and so.  At one point, I left Mom in line to go to see how far behind us the line now stretched.  In typical fashion, the line took a break at the stairs of death and then resumed at the bottom to go around the corner.  I do not think they allow the line to go down the stairs any more but this was many years ago.  When I got back up to Mom, Mildred approached us and asked what line we were in.  We told her what line it was and directed her to the end of the line like we had done for many others.  She decided to hang out with us for a few minutes and strike up a conversation.  Mom and I are very friendly people.  We chatted with her for awhile and then the line started to move.  I honestly thought she was in the wrong line and was going to move on.  To our surprise, she stayed with my Mom and I.  We did not know what to do.  Do we tell her, rudely and forcefully to get to the back of the line of just let it go?  We let it go.  A few days later Mom and I were  in another line  and we saw her trying to pull the same thing on someone else.  They were not as kind as Mom and I were and told her to get to the back of the line.....she came to talk to us and we kind of ignored her.  Sorry,  Mildred,  you need to stand in the long ass line like everyone else.

Mom did not come the next year but there was Cutting Mildred AGAIN trying to cut in ine.  This time she brought with her some knitting needles.  Normally I could care less what others are doing in a panel room.  That being said, when you are in the back of a panel and it is kind of hard to hear, the clap-clap of knitting needles behind you is kind of annoying.  Again, she kept popping up in places that I was.  For awhile I thought she might be following me.  I do not think that she was, it was just coincidence but uggg.  Mildred is kind of like a wart.  You can get rid of the wart but then it can come back again.  The following year Mildred appeared and to my horror she was wearing a sling with a kid in it.  OH MY GOD!!! SHE PROCREATED!!!! AHHHHHHHHH WHY???????
 I have seen Cutting Mildred every year since the first and now I do not feel like it is a Con without seeing Cutting Mildred.  I hope she only procreated the one time though.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

50 Days of Dragon Con Day 47

Another day down.  Where does the time go?

Every year at con I make a list of things I need to read, watch, see, do, or buy before next con.  So far I have not read two of the books on the list.  I am missing one documentary and I am several movies and TV shows short.  I do not know why but after con I always think there is time and I will get to it.  AHHHH I am 47 days till con and I am so far behind.  There are shows that I have given up on-Gotham-and that is ok but then there are those I have not even started-Bitten.  I am decades behind on Dr. Who and Star Trek and have barely made any headway there.  On the good side I have finished Manimal and Battlestar Gallictica.  I am current with all of my most needed podcasts. I am almost done with The Tudors and I am up to date on Downton Abbey.  I am about to finish Storm of Swords and have watched and re-watched Game of Thrones.  Penny Dreadful has to be my favorite show off of the list but as I do not have Showtime I have to wait until they have another free weekend where I can catch up on season 2.

I am not much of a cosplayer so I am not in the same kind of panic as many others.  Still, it is a panic.  It is my panic.  I do not want to be out of the loop with all of the TV talk.  After last con I decided I need to work on changing that.  I have done nothing...nothing. ARGGGGHHHH Right now I am watching everything related to Stephen King's The Shining-miniseries and all.  Next is Sense8, Killjoys, Dark Matter, Mr. Robot, The Strain and find a way to get season 2 of Penny Dreadful... I have a busy week ahead.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

50 Days of Dragon Con Day 48


Hello!  Welcome back! 
My first year of con was a complete success.  I found a niche where I belong amongst people of my kind.  WOOO HOOOO!  At the con I found a few track rooms out of the main thoroughfare and yet they had things I wanted to be a part of.  This area became a meeting place for me and everyone I went to con with.  Since this was our meeting spot, I inevitably wandered into these track rooms rather frequently and instantly fell in love with one of the rooms.  One of the other rooms kind of irritated me and I will tell you why.  The track volunteers (all tracks of programming are run by volunteers--yay and thank you) talked (and rather loudly) through all of the panels I went to in that room.  Kind of annoying, really.  I found most of their topics of discussion really intriguing and wanted to hear them.  At one point I kept looking over at the staff table and saying shhhhhh.  This was of course to no avail.  Oh well.

One day, I went into a panel in the shhhing room.  I truly have no idea what the panel was about but the discussion was something to do with fantasy.  A new friend of mine brought up The Wizard of Oz.  Her point was instantly shot down by one of the panelists who happened to be the assistant track director.  The audience and my friend were all like WTF?  The Wizard of Oz is one of the most impactful fantasy movies of all time.  Needless to say, another friend of mine was also on the panel and quickly shot the other panelist down.   I do not know if the panelist is stupid and did not know Wizard of Oz is fantasy, or if she just had a really big brain fart.  I truly hope it is the latter.  It has been many years and I have not seen the goober on another panel.  I do not know if she is still involved with the track or not but, between telling her to shhhh and her not knowing the Wizard of Oz is fantasy, I am kind of glad I have not seen much of her since then.  The poor thing had a big brain fart in front of a lot of people.  I feel bad for her as I am not that great at speaking in front of groups of people either.  At the time, I was irritated.  I really was.  Now as I look back, I think it is kind of funny.  Even today, all of these years later, this is one of my favorite tracks and I love all of the people involved.  Thank you to all of the track directors and volunteers who make Dragon Con what it is.  Thousands of us thank you.

A pretty good Severus Snape.  I had to stand up in line for this one.

50 Days of Dragon Con Day 49

Hello and welcome to a new edition of 50 Days of Dragon Con.

On my first adventure to the con, I was sooo out of my element.  I did not have any idea where I was going or what I was doing.  LOLOL I tried looking at the pocket program (this was before there was an app) and was overwhelmed.  After the red-eye and hours in line to pick up my badge, I was off and running.  I hit up a Lord of the Rings panel on if The Hobbit was going to be filmed or not.  Yes, this was many many years ago.  In the room next door was a Sookie Stackhouse panel and I do not know what was going on but there was lots of excitement and screaming.  To be honest, I do not remember if the show True Blood had even been made yet or not.  I then wandered over to the Hilton and meant to be in the Marriott.  I found a Skeptics Track panel and promptly fell asleep.  Not to say that the topic was not interesting, just that I had now been up for over 24 hours and was exhausted.  After I awoke from my brief nap I was off to......somewhere.  Friday was such a blur.  I have no idea what happened the rest of the day.

Saturday was the day I was going to get my autograph from the author I went to see.  I decided that I would go to see where she was going to be doing the signing.  I headed out early.  The signing was to be at 2-ish so I thought I would head that way around noon.  As I found where it was going to be, I also found a line had already started to form.  HOLY CRAP!  I instantly got in line and sat there.  I was sitting on the floor of the Marriott with the con going on all around me.  I was there for hours upon hours and it was great.  I met people and took lots of photos.  I got my autograph and spent the rest of the con in line to see many many authors.  I came across a lady who I saw in many of the same places I was.  For now we will call her Mildred.   I will discuss more about Mildred later.  This whole con I was a lost mess.  I am navigationally inclined and can find my way from place to place.  However, there were so many places I wanted to be at once and had no idea how to get to all to them.  My head was a jumbled spinning mess.  I missed out on so much and yet did so very many things.  I met people I am still friends with all of these years later.  Hi Joe and Gary!  I will be forever grateful for my first year at Dragon Con, all of the people I met, the things I saw and did.  Oh, what a splendid time I had.

Cosplay as viewed from my place in line.





Thursday, July 16, 2015

50 Days of Dragon Con


Hello!  HOLY COW I can hardly believe there are only 50 days left until Dragon Con.  I have decided that this year as I get ready to go forward I will tell stories about things that have happened to and around me at the con.  I am so excited.  This is the one place I really feel at home. 

What is Dragon Con?  This is really a hard question to answer.  To be literal, it is a 4 day convention held in Atlanta, GA held over Labor Day weekend dedicated to pop culture and everything that entails.  To each individual, the answer is personal and ever evolving.  Currently, Dragon Con is my home away from home and the one place I am not afraid to let my Geek Flag Fly -high, waving, blustering in the wind. 

My first Dragon Con was more years ago than I can remember.  A friend of mine told me that an author I like was going to be at a con in Atlanta signing autographs and doing panels.  This was at the beginning of August and I had never heard of Dragon Con.  I ran home from work and did some research.  I could not afford to stay in one of the host hotels so I stayed in one of the overflows.  I took a friend along with me and we were off.  We had no idea what we were getting into.  We took the red-eye and arrived in Atlanta at 6 am and dropped off our luggage at the overflow hotel by the airport.  We headed to the con and hit the Sheraton at 7ish and I was flabbergasted.  The line was around the building to pick up our membership badges.  Standing in line and watching people pass me looking for the end of the line I saw people from every walk of life wearing every costume under the sun.  I was so overwhelmed by all of what I saw and heard.  I wandered that line for over an hour and met people, heard and saw some great things and this was just the registration line.  How could I have not known about this place? 

I knew once I took my place in line that I had finally crash landed in a world that fit me.  Fit the part of me I kept hidden from the world as to not be shunned or looked at funny.  OMG! Here I can be my true self my heart of hearts AND have no fear of being ostracized.  Thank all that is reverent that I have found you.  Thank you to all that make my home possible.  To everyone who attends wand embraces all of us Nerds, Geeks, Dorks or what I prefer to call my family.

Angelo and Keith, I hope you can make it!!!!!!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Atari


Atari is a video console gaming system that was released in 1977.  This system lasted until the 80s when it started to wane in popularity.  The reason for the downfall is widely regarded (and often disputed) as the open platform that allowed many game developers to make games for the Atari system.  Many of these games have been regarded as some of the worst video games of all time.  Other games have withstood the test of time and are still widely recognized.  Icons have come from the Atari.  Pacman and Donkey Kong are still recognized by children 30 years later.  Look at he new Adam Sandler and Peter Dinklage movie, Pixels coming out later this summer.  It is Pacman and Donkey Kong on the attack. 

A couple of weeks ago I picked up an Atari at a garage sale.  There were about 20 games with it and had both the controllers and paddles.  WOW, I played all of the games and it did not take long to get a cramp in my left thumb.  How did we play this with such slow controls?  I know, I know, we are spoiled with the controls and response times of today, but wow the controls were slow to respond.  Many of the games I remembered, and remembered very fondly.  Some of them reminded me why I got tired of the Atari.  Now, to give Atari full credit, the Atari was really before my time.  My family got one in the 80's and I remember playing it even after the Nintendo came out.  So to be fair, I was a Nintendo kid due to my age.
Some of the best Atari games are still great, some of the lesser games are that way for a reason.  I mean UGG, really?  In this box I found a game called Fast Food and the whole point of the game was to eat as much Fast Food as you can.  If you eat too many of the purple beans, you burp and lose a life.  Really?  This was a concept for a video game?  LOLOLOL To be honest, it is one of the better games that were in the box I bought.  Too funny.  Some Say ET was a terrible game and while I think it was HORRENDOUS I do not think it was the worst.  In this collection from the garage sale, I have games that I have never heard of and Great Scot, they are beyond terrible.  UGGG!  I did get some oldies and goodies, Pacman, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Space Invaders and my favorite, Combat.  I tried to play Combat again and almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard.

After playing some of these games I see why Atari went under.  I really do.  That being said, they did give us the foundation for greatness.  Without Atari and their failure, other gaming companies would not have learned from the mistakes of Atari.  New console companies made it so that no GAWD AWFUL games are licensed to play on their systems.  The competition for licensing would not be there in the game developers if the Atari issue did not fail so spectacularly.  The game creators do not try to get the most number of games out with sub par quality any more.  The games have to have something good about them or Nintendo, Playstation or Xbox would not allow them to be on their systems.  Gone are the days of ET and the shoddy concept.  Now you bring in the Diablo, Halo, and Grand Theft Auto generation of development.

All in all, I think this was a good and entertaining $20.00 investment.