Con Report: Dragoncon 2014 (with over 100 pictures!)

Day -1?

Yes, or perhaps Day 0 – Registration Day.

Now, we haven’t done DC lots – but I can tell you this: Today was the FASTEST line to pick up badges that we have seen (or are ever likely to see).  From the time we entered ‘the line’ to having the shiny badges fresh off the printer(!) it ended up taking less than five minutes. Yes. FIVE. Most of that time was taken rolling through the Mickey Mouse Maze (right behind John Ringo – who I recognized from the back with the ponytail and the Cruxshadows t-shirt, and managed to say hello to).

Anyway, five minutes. Maybe less.

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We’re in a new hotel – got a great rate six months ago, and we’re all of two blocks away from the con.

Got all sorts of things going on – perhaps tonight is the beginning of Day 0 and we’re still in Day -1. There’s a DragonCon get-together for the hotel, and also a BAEN book launch.

TOMORROW, the insanity begins.

And one more photo – THE most awesome Fourth Doctor scarf we’ve seen so far!

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Back again – went off to World Of Coca-Cola and Hard Rock, figuring that today would be the time to do so

Hard Rock – okay, the food is good, but it is way overpriced, IMHO.

World Of Coca-Cola is reasonably priced and entertaining; we spent an enjoyable two hours there. Regular admission is $16 but a kind Boise State fan had a text that allowed us to get in for $25/2, which was considerably better.

So here’s a few pictures:

Well, Day One finally arrived. Okay, so I guess it wasn’t really any slower than usual, but it certainly seemed like it, after waiting all year for this weekend to arrive. And I suppose you could say that Day One was more like Night One, as the activity was all Thursday night.

We had an ambitious schedule planned, and the kickoff was going to be the BAEN book launch. Two of my FAVORITE authors were going to be there – David Weber and John Ringo – to promote their latest works: David, A Call To Duty (Manticore Ascendant Book 1) with Timothy Zahn (you can find out more about it HERE ); John, Islands of Rage and Hope (the third book in the Black Tide Rising series, and that link is HERE ). Now, I’d already ordered John’s book – and devoured it, almost in one sitting – but hadn’t paid much attention to David’s. Why? Well, though I do love the Honorverse, I find that I am most interested in the actual Honor Harrington books, as opposed to those which deal with backstory and supporting characters. However, this was an opportunity not to be missed.

I had come prepared, with my old copy of On Basilisk Station – battered and much loved – to show David; in the end, he deigned to sign it. Plus the copy of A Call To Duty which we had picked up.

We were there a couple hours, long enough to hear John speak at length about a range of subjects; then we went back to the hotel. Tomorrow would be a LONG day.

 

Good MORNING!

Ugh. Morning arrived way too bright and cheerily early.

On the other hand, we were PUMPED to get to the first panel. Why, you may ask? Simple:

Walter Koenig.

Yes, Chekhov from Star Trek was at Con this year, and having seen both George Takei and William Shatner (and Leonard Nimoy not going Cons, and DeForest Kelley and James Doohan both being deceased, and Nichelle Nichols tending to stay on the other side of the country…), well, this was an opportunity not to miss.

And oh boy, was it worth it. Koenig (and presenter Garrett Wang) were entertaining and informative through the panel. Koenig mostly answered questions from the audience (including one from Your Humble Reporter; to wit: With the promotions in the series of Sulu and Scotty to Captain, were there ever any discussions about creating that sort of story arc for your character? His answer was that yes, they had discussed making him an Admiral but he turned it down – you can take that tale with or without a Large Grain Of Salt), and Wang occasionally interpreted the questions.

Next, we hustled from the Sheraton to the Marriott, for a panel titled A Farewell To Matt Smith. We had HOPED that it would be a perspective on the Matt Smith years on Doctor Who, with different opinions being by expressed by panelists and attendees. There were, alas, a couple problems with the panel. First, the panelists were only peripherally connected with the show (a tv personality and pundit, a musician who puts on an annual Doctor Who convention, a successful novelist, and an illustrator) and yet presented themselves as experts; and second, the attendees were lectured to rather than being asked to participate. In the spirit of full disclosure, we left about 20 minutes into the hour panel, and therefore may have missed audience participation. However, there didn’t seem to be any trend in that direction. And, frankly, the presenters were FANS, at heart – their opinions were no more correct or valid than those of the attendees, so why not throw the panel open?

That’s not to say that we didn’t do anything. No no no. We saw PLENTY of cosplay, visited the Walk of Fame (autograph and photo ops with writers and actors, or you can just stand in line to talk to them)(and we talked to Colin Baker, Richard Hatch, the cast of Land of the Lost, Jeri Ryan, and Erin Gray) – oh, and had lunch. Lunch is important.

And we stopped by Barfly Central, the central hangout for people who write for (or hope to write for, or are fans of) BAEN Books. Some cosplay photos (both in line before Koenig and later):

Okay, so lots of photography. That evening was a special evening – I had arranged for us to have dinner with Kevin J. Anderson and his wife, Rebecca Moesta. You can find their web site HERE, but he is best known in DragonCon circles for his Star Wars books, the continuation of the Dune universe (with Brian Herbert), and the Dan Shamble books. I had worked with him once before, helping him proofread a book he was publishing, and when he said that yes, his schedule would allow for dinner, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

He and Rebecca couldn’t have been more charming or gracious at dinner. We spend almost two hours with them, and they are two hours which we will remember for years to come.

Our final event for the night was the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy 35th Anniversary: Arthu’s Dent Pajama Party. We dropped in to check out the costumes, visited a panel that seemed it could be interesting (it wasn’t so I won’t mention it again), then staggered back to the hotel to sleep and recharge. Saturday would be insane.

 

Can it be day three ALREADY? we thought as we actually awoke to an alarm.

Alarm?

During DragonCon?

Why yes, actually – when you are marching in the viewed-by-100,000-people DragonCon Parade, it behooves you to actually, you know, show up on time and in costume.

So we did.

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Yup, that’s us, cosplaying as members of Wolf Squadron. That would be taken from John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series – post-infected-apocalypse world, very entertaining – and we were marching with BAEN Books. You could be any character you wanted, as long as it was from a BAEN book.

We had kukris and Nerf guns. Lots of fun – very hot, but a fairly easy walk. Alas, we don’t have any more pictures from the parade – as we were marching! But I did take a few snaps BEFORE:

So then, after the parade, it was time for some panels! And rehydrating. And cooling off in the blessed, blessed Marriott air conditioning.

Then we wandered down to the Sheraton – unlike many other parade members, we were near the front (position #7), so we were able to start on time and even make the entire route in about 40 minutes. Thus we were able to get to the 11:30 panel, which was another Trek Track panel.

Jeri Ryan (with Garrett Wang, the director of the track)!

This looked to be a fun panel, as Jeri and Garrett performed together on Star Trek: Voyager, and so it proved. It was all Q&A – with a few fun stories. One of which, I will attempt to replicate here:

Garrett and Jeri were rehearsing what they called a ‘walk and talk’ – a scene where they are walking down the stage and talking about something. They reach the end of the scene and the director tells them, ‘Cut! Return to one.’ Translated, that means return to the first position to take another rehearsal.

According to Garrett, he reached out to take her elbow…but missed. And ended up grabbing her breast. Realizing that something was amiss, he looked down. So did she. He (said Jeri) turned several shades of red, gibbered, and spluttered ‘I thought it was your elbow!’ before dashing off to hide.

The director then called a break while they set for the shooting.

An hour later, Garrett returned to the set for filming. He arrived first. A few moments later, Jeri walked in. She had applied two post-it notes. One on her shoulder, pointing to her elbow, saying ‘Elbow’. The other? Above her breast, saying ‘Not an Elbow’.

Garrett turned red again on the panel.

One more tale from the panel – after the Elbow Story, Jeri fielded more questions from the audience. One of the questioners was dressed as Jeri’s character (I suppose I should mention that she played a former Borg called Seven of Nine, and had the remains of Borg implants on her face,primarily above one eye) and had done a faithful recreation. After her question was answered, Garrett complimented her on the accuracy of her costume with, ‘Nice implants.’

Everybody in the room knew what he had said. Jeri knew what he said. Garrett – a full heartbeat later – realized what he said, and DOVE under the table to hide.

Okay, last bit. On the way out, we went out a side door, near the stage. Garrett exited just ahead of us and, having met him before, I felt comfortable enough to tease him a bit: ‘Garrett!’ He turned. ‘Not an elbow!’ He grinned and continued on his way.

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We were sitting far enough away that the best view was of the big screens (at least for photography)

Tomorrow – Day Three, Part Two (yes, it was a jam-packed day!)

Kathleen Coleman.

Wesley Eure.

Philip Paley.

Do any of you know these three people have in common?

*Jeopardy theme plays*

Time’s up!

Holly Marshall, Will Marshall, and Cha-Ka.

Still no?

Sid & Marty Krofft.

Okay, okay.

Land of the Lost. Remember that??

Yeah, I thought so. But in case you didn’t, well, here’s a helpful link to the ENTIRE FIRST EPISODE. So you can relieve all the glory that was the series.

Anyways, the three young stars of the show were in a panel to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the show. Apparently, it was the first time all three had been together on stage since the series ended, but they had stayed in touch, stayed close. You could tell by the chemistry on stage, the way they were so obviously joyful to be back together.

The crowd, though small, appreciated it and was as enthusiastic as any I had seen.

 

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L to R, Wesley, Kathleen, Philip (and a Sleestak head from the show)

 

And an unnamed Sleestak. He answered questions, but there wasn't a translator in the house.

And an unnamed Sleestak. He answered questions, but there wasn’t a translator in the house.

And, of course, there was plenty of cosplay to be seen.

 

Saturday night? That’s the Georgia Aquarium. It’s a chance to go, look at fish, and enjoy the cosplay. After a shower (totally necessary) we were dressed for the occasion as well – me as a sheriff from Eureka (NOT Jack Carter, I don’t have the build!) and she went as a steampunk fallen angel.

No, no picture of me (I’m the one behind the camera).

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Then, time for a couple hours in the Aquarium. I won’t put up TOO many pictures, but enough so you get a sense.

 

Finally, we went to one more panel. This was one of the adult (late-night) panels, and it was HIGHLY disappointing. Why? Well, again, the panelists felt that they knew best and discussed what they wanted to, not staying on topic and being quite unprofessional. I know that this was an adult panel; I know that many of the panelists were coming from a Mixology panel and had sampled their products. Still, they ignored the moderator, strayed from the topic, promoted their own interests and generally disregarded the topic.

But that was the only low mark on a busy and fun day.

The last full day of Con – OH NO!!!

We actually spent a lazy morning recovering from Saturday, heading late to the host hotels, back down the Sheraton, to see Terry Gilliam.

Yes.

Terry Gilliam.

Of Monty Python, 12 Monkeys, Brazil, Fisher King..BRILLIANT filmmaker!

We expected the line to be long, and it was – but we got into the hall to see him, and he said quite a few memorable bits of advice. A sampling:

Don’t fail for other’s mistakes; fail for your own.

You make rules for your life in order to break them. What other reason would there be for having them?

WELL worth the time and effort – charming, gracious to the questioning audience members, he likely would have stayed for hours but the Con limited him to the allotted time

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Our best view – since the hall was full, we were waaaaay back.

Then off to the Marriott to listen to Gil Gerard – Buck Rogers from the TV show – and for a small panel (only Gil and the audience, and the show was a bit of a cult show, being cancelled after only a season-and-a-half) VERY entertaining. Gil answered questions about the show, of course, and told stories about his involvement in the industry and his perception of the show:

Question: Did you ever feel threatened that you were co-starring with a robot (Twiki)?

Answer: No, because it was my show. Buck Rogers, that was me.

He had good advice for people wanting to get into the industry: don’t look like you want it. He was cast as an extra in Love Story (after being a successful chemist for NASA – yes, this man was a rocket scientist!), and a buddy told him NOT to look at the casting director, to look at the buddy and talk to him, like he didn’t care whether he got the part or not. Well, he got the part. Then they held another casting, and he did the same thing, and got THAT part. Then they were looking for a small speaking part, and he did it AGAIN, and it worked AGAIN.

Excellent panel, and if you get a chance to see him, go do it because who knows how long he’ll be doing these cons!

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Finally, before dinner, we decided to go to a Battlestar Galactica panel: May the Gods Watch O’er Us, a discussion of faith and religion within the reimagined BSG. You want to talk about an all-star panel – okay, so last year there was James Edward Olmos, but this year you had Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh), Richard Hatch (Tom Zarek in the new and Apollo in the classic BSG), Tricia Helfer (Number Six), Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), and Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh). WOW! You had the head of the government, the semi-loyal opposition, two of the ‘hidden’ Cylons, and THE indelible image/voice of the show.

Deep discussion, very thoughtful – and while I am a fan, my partner isn’t (or maybe I should say, WASN’T) and she was interested too.

Unfortunately, very far back from the panel again. So not great photos.

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L to R: Hogan, McDonnell, Vernon, Hatch, Helfer

Of course, there was plenty of cosplay:

 

You may have noticed a plethora of Doctor Who characters – that’s partly because it’s my primary fandom, partly because Colin  Baker (Sixth Doctor) was there, and partly because we found an interesting panel on Saturday night, one that we hadn’t planned on attending: Doctor Who Costumes & Prop Designs – with Robert Allsopp, one of the designers and costume makers for both the classic Doctor Who and the new series.

This was the ONLY panel in which he was the primary panelist – hell, he was the ONLY panelist! And there were SO many goodies that he brought along, interesting tidbits from both versions of Who. Plus there were the item he brought along:

 

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Armor from Time Lord soldiers, 50th anniversary special

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Time Lord Soldier helmet, 50th Anniversary Special

And then there was this – not an actual prop, but something almost better. You see, he designed the headpieces for the Time Lord High Council, the very ornate Gallifreyan script that reached from the front, around the back of their neck, and down the other side. He kept one, of course, but couldn’t bring it across the pond, so he laid it on a piece of paper and did a quick spray paint.

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I have one more photo of that, but it’s something REALLY special which I plan to turn into a t-shirt for next year.

That’s about it for Sunday. Monday – yes, we stayed for Monday – but only attended one panel in the morning. Overall, it was lots of fun, a great experience, and you really ought to take the time to check it out! For a relatively small fee, you get to get up close and personal with many of your favorite stars of television, movies, and print!

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