Retro Robots

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We leave for Dragon*Con in the morning. I’m so excited to get away for four geek-tastic days in downtown Atlanta. In many ways, con-going feels like I’ve finally found my natural habitat.

I find there are two kinds of reactions when you tell someone you are going to a convention. A typical reaction along the lines of “what is it?” Upon answering, the follow up questions run to “why?” and “what do you do there?” There’s little use in explaining to most of these folks. They won’t understand.

The second group says, “What costume are you wearing?”

It is little use to explain not everyone cosplays.

I have before and I surely will again. This year, rather than make costumes I’ve planned a couple outfits befitting the occasion.

The new creation is a bit of serendipity, really. First, a picture and then explanation.

Several years ago when I was working at Target, a pair of men’s pajamas were returned. As an online only item, they were heavily discounted. Who was I to pass up the opportunity?

I hung onto the pajamas with the intention to make something to wear in more visible situations. Turning pants into skirts is one of my favorite modifications. As is my usual creative process, I hung onto the material and idea for a long time. I picked up the red fabric to fill in the gaps several months back, but didn’t get started on the project until Teefury offered the Asimov University tee.

How much do I love Asimov’s Robot novels?

Enough to make darn sure I completed my whimsical robot shirt and matching peter pan collar before DragonCon. I’d been saving this Burda pattern for an appropriate occasion for a while.

 

I rather like how it turned out. It was no small task to line up the robots so their little heads didn’t get cut off.

DRAGON*CON

Wil Wheaton and I both attended our first Dragon*Con this year. As you can see from my big excited smile above, meeting Wil was the highlight of my con experience. It was that freaking awesome to top four days of total immersion in total geek culture. He was personable and gracious. Chris and I talked to him about Memories of the Future. I thanked him for introducing me to John Scalzi and Wil told me Scalzi had announced his latest book that very day. He’d read it, he said, and it is “amaze-balls.” I managed to hold down my fan-girl squeal long enough to walk away from the autograph table.

We geeks are a people without a homeland, but for the length of the con a few blocks of Downtown Atlanta are transformed into a habitat suitable for geeks of all types and affiliations.

It has been a week since we came home. The real world is a bit surreal. No one is dressed as a super hero. I haven’t seen two Doctors pass each other in the hall, nodding in acknowledgement with a greeting of “Doctor.” Even after 10 P.M., body paint is not appropriate attire. Ridges exist on potato chips, not foreheads.

Nothing about the other conventions I’ve attended prepared me for Dragon*Con. It’s bigger – five hotels, a downtown mall, a parade and over 45,000 people. Dragon*Con TV in our hotel room. I went to one actual panel the whole weekend – corset making – and didn’t feel like I missed out. It would, in fact, be possible to go without a membership and have a perfectly good time just people watching and sharing the adventure stories of our roommates. Of course, Chris and I have already preregistered for next year.

It is so difficult to sum up the events of the weekend as the formal events are only half the story. I admit the main reason I’m writing about it at all is to relive it for myself. Maybe next year I’ll blog from the event.

Our trip began Wednesday afternoon. Chris and I stayed at his cousin’s place in Alpharetta, Georgia in an effort to get into the registration line early Thursday. We were joined by Chris’ brother Eric. I was happy simply to get out of dodge. Anticipation was killing me. We had dinner with cousin Jeff and Eric a really, really yummy Indian restaurant. My first real moment of the convention happened hanging out in Jeff’s living room while I sat chatting with Kate about her current obsession with Supernatural. While she hasn’t ever been to a con, she’s my original geek friend. She’d explained about the fan-fiction surrounding the series, specifically the slash involving the Winchester brothers. They, apparently, call it Wincest and Kate, like myself, doesn’t really understand the appeal. What I said, however, was “It’s better for incest to be same-sex because you don’t have to worry about children.” Silence in the room and all three of the boys – the boyfriend, the boyfriend’s brother and their cousin – staring at me like I’m insane. What? In the context of the conversation, it was a perfectly reasonable statement.

Standing in the registration line Thursday, you would think, wouldn’t be very exciting. I was surprised, however, how excited I was to see all the people. Most were in their geekiest shirts, but a few dedicated souls were costumed up. One dude behind us in line was already drinking cheap beer. Way to get a head start on both counts.

Not much goes on Thursday night. We and the roommates got settled in. It was Chris and I, Eric, Teresa, Alex and his sister Lucy. Teresa invented a drink we’ll call a Tereka – Diet Mountain Dew and Tequila. I had a couple and Lucy was a little too buzzed to head out to the Celtic concert she wanted to attend. Not having anything better to do and not wanting to sit around, Chris and I went with Lucy to see Pandora Celtica and Emerald Rose. Very different sounds, but both awesome.

Daytime Friday was line day for Chris and I. We got the required autographs. Wil Wheaton (*Squee*) was first, then Gates McFadden and William Shatner. We stopped to talk to Brent Spiner about his web series Fresh Hell. Gates was nice, but we didn’t have anything specific to talk to her about. Shatner looked tired, but smiled and nodded. Best you can expect from a star of his age. Autographs are a cool memento, but I definably think the interaction is the important part. I wouldn’t, for example, buy an autograph or send someone to get one. I will, of course, have to be satisfied with the autograph from Leonard Nimoy Chris got two years ago.

There was Klingon Karaoke. Chris sang Bust A Move. The audience loved it.

As I alluded to in my mention of body paint, late night at Dragon*Con is pretty wild. We went to the Hyatt, closed to all but Dragon*Con attendees, to walk around and enjoy the costumes. Chris was still in his TOS Klingon and had far more photo requests than he expected. Was awesome.

The only problem with a late and eventful night on Friday was getting up early Saturday for the parade. Chris marched in full Imperial Klingon and ridges. So sexy, but hot and tiring. Still, he made CNN’s coverage of the con for the second year in a row. Later, we attended the Klingon restaurant invasion to hang with our various Klingon friends but especially those of House Koloth and the Nemesis.

I saw so many cool costumes and interactions between people in those costumes. Waldo and Carmen San Diego running around doesn’t fail to tickle me. I took lots of pictures both with my camera and Chris’ – feel free to look me up on Facebook and take a look. My favorite missed photo opp moment was a beautiful, Disney quality Snow White taking pictures of a You-Know-Who and a couple dozen Death Eaters.

Only at Dragon*Con. Only 353 days…

IT ONLY HAPPENS ONCE A YEAR

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around our house. Chris and I are busy with plans, shopping, and cooking. Friends drop by and discuss their own preparations, or enjoy a meal and laughter. Excitement and anticipation crackle in the air. We feel like kids again, reminiscing about holidays past. As time grows short, a certain amount of stress is inevitable, but the hustle and bustle only adds to the fun we anticipate.

What? It’s only August you say? It’s too early to be prepped and excited for Christmas?

Of course, silly, I don’t get so excited about Christmas. I do, however, know people that enjoy it like they do in the songs and Christmas movies and the feelings are much the same.

Dragon*Con is just over a week away.

It will be my first year at the largest geek culture convention in the world. It will be Chris’ fourth year and has lost no luster in his eyes. With my limited con going experience, Trek Trax, Invadercon and ConCarolinas, I know more in every possible way. I expect it to be a cross between Geek Christmas and the feelings Harry Potter finding himself at Hogwarts where he belongs but still has a lot to figure out about how his world works.

I’ll admit to being disappointed in myself over not making more of an effort to put together costumes for myself. I’d put together a modest Arthur Dent costume for ConCarolinas. Arthur will spend at least one day wandering around downtown Atlanta seeking a good cup of tea, towel in hand, of course. But the plans in my head for future costumes are far more elaborate.

I did, however, assist in Chris’ Imperial Klingon rebuild and improvement project along with a detail or two on his TOS Klingon. We’re also in process on his Hargid costume which won’t be ready for D*C. I happen to have the mad hand-sewing skills and some experience with patterns to compliment Chris’ experience with unusual materials and mastery of the sewing machine. We’re gearing up to be an unbeatable costuming team.

It’s not all costumes. Transportation, hotel sharing arrangements, deciding what to pack and all the other normal things one does before vacations. It’s all new to me, to be honest, since I never vacationed in my former life. Chris is the one who books the hotel room and there will be seven of us sharing it. I’m glad I’m not the one in charge of logistics, only details making sure there’s Rolaids and shampoo and clean socks to pack. We have discovered our con-going friends think we over pack, but both believe what we bring comes in handy, plus the extra luggage involved in two CPAP machines is not insubstantial.

The other piece of the puzzle is food preparation. We’ve tried very, very hard to stick on a healthy, weight loss causing eating plan with mixed success, so being out of town for days is tricky. Add that to the expense of eating out and taking a cooler makes for wise con-going. Yesterday and today, I made big batches of lentil and pea soup. It worked well for ConCarolinas frozen in individual servings and used in place of ice to save cooler space. Odds are against us staying on plan the whole trip even with the allowance for our Friday or Saturday free eating day. With all the stuff to do, snacks brought by our roommates and the lure of free food and beverages in the hospitality suite, I’m sure well supplement what we bring with less than healthy options. Can’t feel too bad about it when you’re on vacation.

Much like Christmas, not everything will go according to plan. Some key item will be left at home, a bit of timing will go wrong, or some such glitch. But I’ll be with some of the geeks geeks I love best, including the geek I love best of all – Nimoy canceled, so in this case I mean Chris – so whatever our adventures and misadventures, a good time will be had by all.

DRAGON*CON 2010 (OR CON-ENVY DISCUSSED)

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be attending my first Dragon*Con in a week’s time. After several years wishing I could attend conventions, specifically San Diego Comic Con thanks to all the celebrities and attendees I follow on Twitter. I’m looking at you, Wil. I even found myself in the Seattle area during Emerald City Comic Con 2010 without the means to attend. I was frustrated to know Leonard Nimoy was in the same county and I wouldn’t be able to meet him. I resolved to not miss such opportunities in the future even if it meant dragging people who didn’t want to go with me. Yes, back then it was a real possibility.

Those days of con-envy seem like distant dark ages.

Chris has turned me into a dedicated con-goer. I love the whole experience more than I’d imagined.

Dragon*Con is the mother of them all. I’m already a bit sentimental at the memory of meeting Chris the first time on the Thursday after Dragon*Con. We intend to mark the anniversary of our meeting just like that, too, rather than on the date, like Thanksgiving. Although most of our messages before I’d arrived in South Carolina – I was moving here and scouted ahead for friendship with an openness to more – had centered around Star Trek, he was so nervous to show me this:


I wasn’t scared off like he feared. I was impressed with his handy work and obvious time invested. Passionate about Star Trek and other geeky things, but not so serious to loose perspective and humor about it, I knew I’d found a like minded friend. It took me a bit longer to admit the inevitable something more, but I was thrilled to have a foot in the door to a world I’d wanted to enter.

Without even attending Dragon*Con yet I have decided I like it better than I would San Diego Comic Con because it is more fan driven than about the loads of big name celebrates that come down from L.A. to play nice with the geeks. I can see actors on television and the internet. I want to make friends with other fans, learn how to do what they do whither it’s make costumes or write fan fiction, to have experiences and conversations which don’t take place in the mundane world.

Celebrities are the icing on the cake, but good cake only needs a bit.

All of the guests I’ve meet in the three cons I’ve attended have been enjoyable. Something about being in the same room while someone you watch on TV tells stories about the show you love is magic. Most notable, the antics of John Billingsly, Enterprise’s Dr. Phlox, and his lovely wife, Bonita Friedericy, at ConCarolinas made watching through Enterprise since all the better. They are hilarious. It was not so much a panel as a performance which included chasing down late arrivals and those leaving early to spray them with cologne from the gift basket from the convention organizers. When we hit an episode where Phlox must sedate the rest of the crew and is alone on the ship, the scene where he walks around sick bay naked with Austin Powers style concealment of his naughty bits Chris and I laughed so hard. We’d been late to the panel and gotten sprayed with cologne by the naked Denobulan now on our television.

There I go, telling convention stories already. I can’t wait to come home from Dragon*Con with a batch of stories. They never get old, telling or hearing, among those of us who count the days until the next one.