tacnukesoul (tacnukesoul) wrote,

Dragon*Con 2013 After Action Report

 Dragon*Con 2013 was a mixed bag for me.  I suppose this is not a surprise.  I had more baggage this summer than the car full of cosplay gear I loaded up for Atlanta, between the finishing of the move, the financial juggling that moving in and financing the new place, and the hoops of joining a new Reserve service and unit put me in need of a vacation, but not in the best place to excel while there.
In the interest of trying to create the best terrain for successful cons, I'm going to lay out what worked, what didn't and what themes I need to ponder for D*C 2014.
The Good:
The trip down and back - I love the ability to see a bit of the country and travel without hard deadlines.  Warping straight from work to con is a bit jarring.
This year I was able to visit a couple of battlefields (Kings Mountain and Alamance Battleground) and get in a good "stretch of the leg."  I hopefully will get a chance to do this in the winter for Arisia and well as next year's D*C.  In the future I'll try to be better about timing.  I could have used more time at King's Mountain - I got there an hour before close - and Alamance could have been better timed to break up the travel day, but both were enjoyable and very useful from both an Ingress (a smartphone/GPS based game which let me exercise my mind) and from a physical break standpoint.
Taking extra days - This year I continued my schedule of traveling (I keep wanting to spell that with 2 "l"s) down on Wed and back on Tue.  This allows me to have a low impact day before the con to hang out or take care of last minute tasks before D*C heats up.  Driving after work on Tue means I'm away from the house, which lowers stress because I've "crossed the Rubicon," packing-wise, and that the Wed drive has more time for breaks.  Driving home on Tue means I can hang out on Monday night with a few people, as well as avoid the Monday checking out craziness.  Unfortunately, being free this particular Thursday also left me open for being the Fire Brigade to another person's crisis (see below).
Giving blood - this was the first time I gave blood since before Afghanistan.  I gave to the local donation center that works with D*C.  I was a little worried because I was giving on Monday when I was pretty well run down, but it all came out OK.  I hope to get back in the ARC swing in the spring (since I gave double red using the machine, I won't be eligible until XMas so I will probably give next at Arisia to one of the Boston blood banks associated with the con).
Parade - I think of the parade, along with the Dr Horrible shadowcast, as my major "work" for the con.  This year I spent most of the parade making sure that we stepped off in the right order, that people got their water and parade tags and that transfers on and off the parade float were as safe as we could make them.  Our group seems to get bigger every year, which makes organization a problem.  The new parade route and our early post in the parade made this an especially challenging endeavor.  I may invest in a bigger megaphone next year.
Garrett Wang - We failed in our attempt to beat the most people assembled in Star Trek costume this year.  What could have been an ugly bureaucratic mess (they wanted us to sit in the chairs for enumeration purposes for an hour plus, with nothing but Voyager (with bad sound) for company) was made quite quite the enjoyable experience by track leader Garrett Wang's (yes, of Voyager fame - he's not just a fan, he's part of the franchise!) off the cuff reminisces and Q&A from the crowd.  He also does a kick butt George Takei impression.  I later got to thank him and he said that they will probably hold off a year or two to try for the record.  There's a lot of moving parts to getting an attempt to work - I think they may have been enough Trekkies at the con in costume at the time to push us over the top, but they didn't know when and where or even that we were doing this.
Connectivity hell - I have no idea why it was so difficult to get wifi or cel service, esp. after the business types went home for the weekend.  This not only made staying in touch with people at the con difficult, but led to a feeling of dislocation in general, which didn't help things.
Smokers and e-cigs - The hassle that is the smokescreens around every entry to every building is the cross eyed bear of many conventions, but I think D*C just has more of it.  Adding to that is the new wrinkle that is e-cigs.  Since it's not "smoking," the addicts of this latest vice seem to have no compunction to indulging anywhere, indoors or out.  While there isn't the nasty smell that gets onto everything, they have no real idea what they're putting into their lungs or my air.  I suspect they will have to start sending these folks outside too.
Missing connections - Dragon*Con is big...REALLY big!  There were a few people that I would have liked to spend time with that I never saw. Those that I did have commo with, schedules never really lined up the right way.  Unfortunately, there's little to do to this problem, other than try to reach out to as many friends as possible so some connections work out.
Parade float - This was the bane of my existence this year.  The float was a great idea that suffered for a number of organizational and project management issues.  The float was built in FL and by the Thursday before the con parked outside the city where it had been worked on that week.  I was asked to come help "for a few hours to finish up the work."  Unfortunately, that was a rather optimistic opinion of the state of the float.  Since the float had to be ready on Saturday morning (Sylvester McCoy - the seventh Doctor - was riding on it) the three of us there worked all day and the other two worked more Sat morning to get the float to the parade in a safe and useable status.  We, or rather they (Grey and Counce literally did the heavy lifting on Saturday while I herded the scarved and fez topped cats of the marching group) got the float operational and successfully through the parade.  Unfortunately, the success came at the cost of most of the spoons I had for the con.  While it is not the root of all my con negativities, I think getting behind the power curve before things started made the reverses worse.
"Missed opportunities" - This is a very subjective measure but since we're dealing with a very subjective standard (my feelings) it seems legit to include.  Near the end, it seemed I got to be a witness to other people's successes but didn't have many successes on my own.  While I was happy that other people's plans were working out, the fact that mine didn't made me a bit grumpy.  It hasn't helped that I've run into people congratulating me on their stuff:  "Hey!  Joss Whedon tweeted about you!  Congrats!"  "Tweeted about _them_ actually - I didn't have anything to do with that."  Whee.
Dislocation - I guess this is what it all comes back to.  For the last few months I've been head down in the maneuvers that was negotiating the "passage of forces" that changed the house from B to me.  While I finished moving stuff to the house the weekend before, the house still looks like Warehouse 13.  So while I didn't leave with major deadlines looming, I was nowhere near the footloose and fancy free type that can really enjoy the holiday.
I guess while I'm at the convention my major problem is that I never seem comfortable in whatever group I'm in.  I'm close to all of the people I share a room with at the con, but I also feel a little cramped spending a lot of time with them,  Part is just the room - none of the hotels are good for 4 people and all their cosplay - but part is just wanderlust/indecisiveness.  D*C can be a vast smorgasbord and I sometimes feel like I'm wandering about with an empty plate because there's nothing I like.
The nut I haven't cracked yet is figuring out how to make enough plans and linkages pre-con so I have other groups to see and hang with and events I really want to do.  it would also help if I had any flashes of costuming brilliance.  My last inspiration was cosplaying the Brig and convincing the group to do UNIT at the parade.  The sad thing is most of us are so busy running the parade group we don't do a lot of fun at the parade and afterwards we're unlikely to want to put the sodden uniforms back on.  Looking for that "killer app" for a fifty-ish, non-washboarded, face for radio and voice for newspapers cosplayer.
The Future (some of it, anyway):

With that, I've thought about costumes for next year.  With the home front mostly nailed down, I should have the chance do work on some more ambitious projects for next year.  I'm aiming for stuff I'll like and if they catch the public's imagination, great but if not I'll still like the costume. Admittedly, I've said this before but we'll see:

(Always interested in hearing costume suggestions, though I cannot guarantee I'll follow them)
More Brig - Finally going to put together the #2 Dress uniform for the Brig. This way I'll have the jumper version for the parade and also have a Brig outfit that hasn't been loaded with sweat for D*C walkabout.
Colonel West from Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country - I've been debating a ST Movie outfit for the longest time. I think doing Colonel West cosplay would be a good fit for my body/facial hair type. Also, it would give me another outfit I could wear with a kilt...
Vacc Suit from Traveller - When I was in SoCal, I picked up an 5.11 TDU Tactical Jumpsuit and have been wanting to do something Traveller-esqe with it. With a full-face motorcycle helmet, backpack/powerpack, laser carbine and maybe some hard armor work, this might be the year...
Tags: car, cons, costume, history, travel
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