My Dragon Con 2015: The good, the bad, and the cosplay

I feel like I’ve come out of a haze. For about 2 months, I worked nonstop on costumes for Dragon Con. When I wasn’t building cosplay pieces, I was giving myself grief over cosplay pieces. “I shouldn’t be at this bar. I shouldn’t be at this show. I shouldn’t visit this person.” There was ONLY SEWING.

Now, I’m free. I’ve spent about a week going out, reuniting with friends, and having a blast. It feels great to be social again. Tonight, I’m caught up and ready to geek out!

…Oh, you actually want to hear about Dragon Con, gentle reader? Yes, I guess since the event colored EVERYTHING I SAID AND DID this summer, I may as well share. ­čÖé

Simply put, lots of good happened, and so did lots of bad.

My husband, my best friend (peeking in the corner,) my prized Yuna necklace, and Edward James Olmos. YES.

My husband, my best friend (peeking in the corner,) my prized Yuna necklace, and Edward James Olmos. YES.

Good: Meeting Edward James Olmos and Aaron Douglas on Thursday. I was the envy of many geeks, hanging out with Battlestar Galactica stars before the con even started. Donations to lymphoma research earned my group some raffle tickets, along with selfies with The Chief and The Admiral. This experience brings my collection of awkward, blurry photos with BSG cast members up to 4!

Good: Gyro King. Best falafel I’ve ever had.

Good: Kicking off the con on Sesame Street. The earliest panel on the very first day was called “ABC, 123, Good Morning from Sesame Street!” I sat in the audience, bleary-eyed and a little hung over, looking at my childhood. The biggest legend was Caroll Spinney. You know him better as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

Bad: Lame panel moderators. The Sesame Street mod first asked, “How did you get to Sesame Street?” This resulted in 5 or 6 uninteresting “how an actor got hired” stories. Yawn.┬áThe next question was, “How did it feel to start on such an iconic show?” Which was… basically the same question. After those, the panel was more than half over.

On the bright side, the 2 audience questions were AMAZING. Shout out to the guy who demanded the panel discuss the HBO buyout. THAT is what we assembled to hear!

The Mass Effect voice actors panel was also pretty poor in the questions department. Biggest jerk in the room: the audience member who put the entire cast on the spot and asked them to sing. At that point, you’re basically just saying “DO A TRICK, MONKEYS!” Rude.

Good: MORDIN. It didn’t even matter that the Mass Effect questions were bad. Mordin’s voice actor from ME3 was up there. MORDIN. THE LOVE OF MY LIFE. I SAW MORDIN.

Bad: Dragon Con TV. In its heyday, Dragon Con TV introduced me to Jonathan Coulton. It was filled with catchy music videos and hilarious skits. This time, I simply wasn’t entertained. The station seemed to be going for quantity over quality, from a zillion fake photoshopped TV promos (they would’ve made great skits!) to the dreadfully boring poetry readings.

A very dark picture in a very dark bar, in which Megan Draper FREAKS OUT because THIS BAR IN THE SKY ROTATES.

A very dark picture in a very dark bar, in which Megan Draper FREAKS OUT because THIS BAR IN THE SKY ROTATES.

Good: Mad Men at the Sundial. My husband and I dressed as Don and Megan Draper and joined a small group of Mad Men cosplayers at The Sundial. This fun spot is at the top of the Westin, over 70 stories up. The elevator is mounted on the outside of the building. I audibly gasped as we ascended, then again when I realized the entire bar rotates.

Good: The parade! This year, I walked as Morrigan from Dragon Age with 90 of my fan-mily members. Everyone was so nice! The staff kept us hydrated, there were plenty of shuttle buses, and the whole route was packed with cheering spectators. There’s no feeling quite like looking up at a giant parking garage and seeing stories and stories of screaming people waving down at you.

Morrigan from Dragon Age, featuring a 3-D printed pendant designed by my husband. I did the sewing, of course.

Morrigan from Dragon Age, featuring a 3-D printed pendant designed by my husband. I did the sewing, of course.

Bad: Costumes falling apart. Morrigan and Yuna both faced minor damage at DC. A strand of beading came off of Morrigan’s bikini top. Yuna’s Zanarkand chest symbol got dented in my suitcase, despite precautions. Dang.

Good: ReBoot trading cards from a Mouse cosplayer. Her hair was filled with fairy lights, and it was fantastic.

It basically looks like someone took a handful of leaves and tossed it into the water. Nope, these are fish.

It basically looks like someone took a handful of leaves and tossed it into the water. Nope, these are fish.

Good: The aquarium. Last time we were at Dragon Con, the geek guy and I got engaged at the Georgia Aquarium. It was completely magical, but also prevented us from seeing the actual place. This time, we explored every corner. While the whale sharks and manta rays are majestic, my favorite things were the smallest.

On the way out, my geek guy bought a pair of plushie whale sharks for my best friend and me. Their names are Berf and Derf.

Bad: The first late night elevator in the Marriott. The second we boarded this elevator, we knew we were in trouble. A man had taken his shoes off, and was flailing about to blaring rock music. He saw my husband, declared “You have a lovely face,” and started touching his cheeks. After harassing my geek guy, this gent turned to me and grabbed my Morrigan staff. I yanked it away from him. “I wasn’t gonna take it, babe,” he laughed, as if I were the problem. Ugh. That elevator door didn’t open fast enough.

Good: The second late night elevator in the Marriott. This elevator, too, had loud music. The difference, however, was consent. A small DJ booth was set up in the elevator. Behind it, a man was playing music. “Welcome to Club Elevate,” he announced, before going back to spinning. People could dance if they wanted, or ignore the situation entirely. I LOVED my few seconds in “Club Elevate,” because participation was a choice.

Bad: The generally awful dialogue about consent. Let’s talk about consent a little more, shall we? I wrote a definitive article on cosplay and consent years ago. I’m surprised that the human race is still so conflicted about such a simple concept. Apparently, there’s still a massive population of people that thinks dressing up means we must WANT to be touched, mocked, even assaulted. On Dragon Con’s Facebook, the idea that maybe one should ask for a photo before taking it was met with ire. Seriously??

My in-person experience showed more of the same. One man put his arm all the way around my waist without asking. Another demanded I stand in traffic, endangering myself and others, for a “cool photo.” Nopenopenopenope. PLEASE remember that there are humans in the costumes.

Good: A wedding! I got to see two of my BioShock fandom friends get married in the Hyatt. They were both Lady Loki. Behold their beauty!

Do you, Loki, take Loki?

Do you, Loki, take Loki?

Bad: The smell in the Dealers’ Hall on Sunday. It was seriously like spoiled milk. Everywhere.

Good: A panel about dog brains. For the first time, my plane left late enough on Monday that I could see a Labor Day panel. I chose the 10AM Why Dogs Love Us. A neuroscientist apparently trains dogs to sit perfectly still in MRI machines. He uses this training for a variety of experiments, almost all of them exploring whether or not dogs recognize and love individual humans. (Spoiler alert: Yes!)

Bad: Crime. I suppose there is bound to be trouble in a group of 70,000 people. This year, however, seemed worse than usual. I saw a Poison Ivy cosplayer freely enjoying illegal drugs in the park in broad daylight. Several acquaintances had purses, cameras, or wallets stolen. Felicia Day’s phone was taken. There is a sexual assault case being investigated. Bryan Humphrey had a camera stolen, and is now reconsidering his work with Dragon Con entirely. I just wish for better.

Good: The helpful masses. Thankfully, the issues above were greatly outnumbered by caring geeks all around. When a woman’s electric scooter tipped over, half a dozen people rushed to her aid. Boy Scouts handed out water at the end of the parade route. People gave up spots on elevators for wheelchairs and people with fussy babies. On the whole, Dragon Con-goers just wanted other Dragon Con-goers to have a great time.

It was the most obvious on Monday morning. As I headed back to the Hyatt to check out, I saw person after person in tears. People gave goodbye hugs, took goodbye selfies, and wept.

Good and Bad: There’s nothing like this convention. Long live Dragon Con.


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