Dragon*Con Wrapup Part 1

Posted on September 11, 2008
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Here’s my wrapup of this year’s trip to Dragon*Con. This is probably about the latest I can do it and have my friend brain cells intact enough to remember things. It might should go without saying that there is a looooong post warning, but I’ll try to spice it up with enough pictures to keep some visual interest. [On second thought, it's out of control and I'm still on Friday so let's break this down into parts.]

I left work shortly after lunchtime on Thursday. I needed to get going before 4 PM if I wanted to make it to the registration that night and avoid it on Friday. Although I had mostly packed the night before, there were just enough little details to handle that I kept failing to finish packing. It got to be around 3:45 PM and I was still fiddling around gathering minor things. I finally hit the point that I was willing to leave whether or not I had everything, just as long as the car was moving towards Atlanta.

Registration Line Around the Hyatt

I drove pretty solidly through from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta, other than a gas stop in Florence that inexplicably took freaking forever. I got to Atlanta around 9:30 PM, checked in to the Days Inn so that I could park there, and trotted directly over to the Hyatt for registration. Because there was a mixup with my guest status, I ended up buying a registration. That was less painful than you might expect, as the pre-registration was really the zoo.

After getting my badge, I went over the Hilton to see Derek and Swoopy setting up the podcasting and skeptic tracks room. I was willing to help but there really wasn’t much for me to do. Anything beyond one person trying to cable mixers is a complete mess. I did help Derek sound check a little and fix some feedback by walking around the skeptic room on the handheld mike while reprising the Casey Kasem routine.

I needed to find a Kinko’s to run off and cut some flyers, and both the Hilton and Marriott are supposed to have ones that are open until 11 PM. At 10 PM both were closed. Thanks FedEx, for buying Kinkos and screwing it all up. I went back to the hotel room, unloaded the car and found that there was a Kinkos at 100 Peachtree so I drove over there. Now, I used to drive an ice truck in Atlanta and I thought I knew the Five Points area acceptably. I had the hardest time getting to this damn joint because of all the one way streets. I ended up on Peachtree going south past it at one point, which ain’t the best part of ATL to be driving your Honda Civic around at midnight. At least I knew I was doing it wrong, and eventually got back to the Kinkos. Everyone was grumpy and it was much slower than I thought it should be, but thank you Kinkos lady for fixing the cuts of my flyers. I thought they were perfectly lined up so that a single cut down the center would be perfect, but they were a full 1/4″ off. WTF, Dave? She made extra cuts to make them perfect and didn’t even charge me, so that was very kind.

I walked across the street to the Landmark Diner and got a burger after that, mainly because it was right there and open. I had thought about heading to other better late night restaurants but the proximity and ease sold me. It was OK. The dude sitting across from my table appeared to be a big time rapper or music mogul. He was highly blinged up with rings and medallions, and at least a dozen dudes came by to give him their obeisance. I didn’t recognize him but then I wouldn’t. In retrospect I should have snapped a phone cam picture of him just to identify who he was. He must have been somebody. After this, bed.

Friday morning, I got up and read some books for a while. Sad to admit, although I had two book interviews to conduct I didn’t have either of them significantly read. It was a lot like cramming for finals. I read a big chunk of Playing For Keeps, got ready and headed over to the convention. I made the executive call to leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign all weekend because I didn’t want maids farting with my equipment. That turns out to have been the right call, although by Monday morning it was a disaster area.

I’ve spent 14 years of my life in Georgia, the bulk of that in Atlanta and that whole time I’ve been active in science fiction and comic book fandom. Despite that, the very first person I ran into was Ryan Karetas – my coworker and the guy who sat the next desk over from me at the office in Myrtle Beach for a long time. For all of the weekend, I spent a fair bit of time fiddling around with leaving flyers on tables, putting out stickers and such. Anytime you have an agenda of doing this, there is a lot of jockeying at the table. I try to be ethical about it, but when some guy has 17 stacks of the same flyer at 8 inch intervals, I tend to combine them and using the extra space for myself. By the last day, it’s a free for all of Lord of the Flies proportions.

I attended the first two sessions of the podcasting track and shot a little video of each with my very first camcorder. The second one was on shooting video, which I was obviously newly interested in. I asked a question about using some of this info towards indie documentaries. After the panel, Rhett Aultman caught up to me and was interested in talking to me more about what I want to do. He was meeting friends at the Marriott anyway, so I and his wife (parter?) Amy and him all went an hung out for a long time talking about the ins and outs of making documentaries. It was highly useful and I was very glad of it. The con was off to a great and roaring start.

I forget what I did for the rest of the afternoon. Surely it involved fliers of some sort, and back to the hotel room for reading and probably some basic scoping out of dealers rooms and such. At 10 PM I had a session on the podcasting track at the Hilton where I’d do a live interview of Mur Lafferty. However, Evo Terra was throwing a podcaster party in their suite in the Hyatt at the same time. Mur and I decided to go over to the party before, hang out for a while and then come back. There were several potentials for mishaps here, involving pre-interview cocktails and elevator rides. We actually got to the party relatively easily, partly through the efforts of one of Mur’s hometown friends who completely big balled his way onto a service elevator with us trailing behind. We hung out for a while and I left to go back to the Hilton around 9:20 PM since I had a camcorder to set up, equipment to check out and such. I walked into the elevator area as the bell rung. I hopped on a half-empty car with zero wait, and there were no stops between us and the ground floor lobby. In 20+ years of Atlanta SF conventions, I’ve never had a ride like that at 9 PM during a con night.

Me and Mur Share A Laugh

I went over to the Hilton, set up and got everything ready. It got to be close to time, and maybe 5 minutes until 10 PM I got a text message from Mur that said only “Elevator hell”. Uh oh. I had everything ready to go and we had a small audience – about as small as you can get and still have an audience – but I told a few stories and basically vamped for a few minutes until Mur got there. We took a minute for composure as we had a whole hour to get a 30-45 minute interview done. Then we turned on the machines and the magic happened. The interview was great and I have it on both audio and video. It will be posted to the Reality Break Podcast feed this weekend.

After the interview, I schlepped all of my stuff back to the Days Inn and unloaded it all, called home and then went back to the podcaster party. Because I had no function booked on Saturday but an interview at 10:30 AM on Sunday, I had already prepared for Friday as a party night and Saturday as a relatively well behaved quiet evening. With that in mind, I settled in for an evening of revelry. I ended up running into Jason and Randy from Beatnik Turtle on the balcony of the party. They are also the authors of the The Indie Band Survival Guide: The Complete Manual for the Do-It-Yourself Musician, a book about which I had been getting emails from their publicist anyway. I had been planning on replying after the convention when I was less busy, and now here were the dudes right in front of me! We set up an interview for Sunday at noon right after the other one I had scheduled in the same spot, so I was able to knock out two without moving my equipment. Sweet luck!

As we hung out and had a few drinks, a hilarious incident occurred. I’m not going to talk about it here in specifics, because it led to me writing a song that Beatnik Turtle will record and that Ewan Spence kindly sanity checked for Scotsman correctness. Keep watching the skies, maybe we’ll have a podosphere premiere of the song on an upcoming episode of the podcast. The evening was fun and I talked to a number of people that I already knew and people that were new to me. I kept drinking and hanging out and chatting with people so long that I literally closed down the party. I helped Evo and Sheila clean up a little and then it was off to my little room for sleep.

Part 2 coming soon …

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