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Dawn… dawned on Atlanta, but I only got up a few hours after that – I’m not that crazy. Besides, most things opened only at 13.00 (that’s one pee-em, for all you military-time-impaired folks out there…), so it’s not like I’d be missing that much anyways.

Still, around 10.00 I was out of my room, in civvies still, and headed to the Hyatt bar in the hopes of meeting up with some of the others. A hope quickly dashed – either they were there earlier and left, or more likely they felt it a bit difficult to rise after the multiple rounds of… introduction the night before.

I had breakfast at one of the restaurants in the Hyatt. I only mention it because it was easily one of the nastiest expensive meals I’ve ever had. Tasteless fruits (in summer in Georgia? For crying out loud, you’re gonna tell me you can’t find ripe melons??), rotten strawberries, greasy croissants, watery chocolate… I ate better in the Navy. Hell, I ate better in French highway fuel stations. If you go to D-Con – or just to the Atlanta Hyatt – don’t eat there. Really, don’t.

Anyways, after a morning of waiting, eating, getting my bearings and all, I started walking around to explore the layout of the con and gawk at the costumes that were starting to pop up here and there. It was once I made it to the Marriott that I realised how many there were. From that moment on, anytime I wasn’t actually on my way to a specific place or event, I was just happy to amble around with big eyes and an even bigger grin, taking in the sheer energy, inventiveness and creativity of the people who were at D-Con.

I don’t think I can be too emphatic here. I’m sure that even among my faithful readers (HA!) there are some who consider this pastime of mine to be a colossal waste of effort, money and braincells. They’re entitled to their opinions. But I want to say again: the amount of thought and care and attention to detail, the originality of some of the made-up costumes, the crazy ideas… It was wonderful. Just wonderful. Seeing all those people’s creations, their pride and joys, exposed freely and without fear of ridicule, it was a heartwarming experience.

Granted, a few of them were a little disturbing too – Sunday night’s Jessica Rabbit, for exemple, will forever haunt my nightmares – but hey. And of course there’s always the T&A to keep a man’s interest at full intensity… mrgreen

But mostly they were brillant:

Headcrabs!

Half-Life’s headcrabs zombies. Where’s a quantum physicist with a crowbar when you need one?

Prisoner from 'Hancock'

I’m told this is from the movie Hancock, which I haven’t seen – but going around a public convention looking like you’ve got someone’s head stuck up your… fundament takes balls, so there!

It's the Hogfather! Er... Wait...

LET’S SLEIGH THEM. HO. HO. HO.

 The Order of the Stick!

The Order of the Stick. Costumes, taken from a webcomic. From a stick figures webcomic. How freaking crazy is that? mrgreen

Anyway, that’s just a few samples. My own full gallery is at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/90475328@N00/sets/72157607084451515/, some of my Flickr contacts have D-Con galleries, and if look around the web you’ll easily find yet more.

 

Time passed and the con officially opened. After a stop at the Aliens fan table to meet some more marines and cast a kind of anchor – it’s actually a good thing to have a place to go back to where you know you’ll find friends, rather than have to wander aimlessly hoping to randomly meet a known face – I did a round of the dealers’ rooms, where my self-control was seriously endangered by the accumulation of mostly useless but highly collectable gizmos and geek-traps, none of which I could really afford, bring back or find a spot for back home. But I’m proud to say I held fast against the lure of consumerism. Until Monday, anyway.

Later on during the day I also went to the “Walk of Fame”: the enormous ballroom in the Hilton where they had setup tables for celebrities to sit at and sign autographs. It was fun looking at people I’d only ever seen on a screen before. They’re real, you know? Flesh and blood and all. Actual people. No kidding.

I’ve never been much of an autograph hunter myself, or a celebrity-picture afficionado. Seeing them, or even better, meeting them, is nice. But that was the extent of my interest there. However I’d taken an ‘order’ from Kim for a couple of signatures that she kinda fancied getting if I could get them for her, so I noted placing and length of queues for future reference. And also decided that, since they were there and I was going to come this way anyway, getting Lance Henriksen and Carrie Henn’s autographs wouldn’t come entirely amiss – I am, after all, a full-blown Aliens nut.

But that was to wait, because before that I had to go see Mr Henriksen himself at his first panel, where he was to speak about his career in general. Since the man is actually an actor I enjoy watching, on top of being Bishop, I figured it’d be a good place to start on panel-watching.

Mr Henriksen seems like a very nice person, and he is a funny man. He spoke about his experiences in Aliens, Terminator, Near Dark, that horrible Jean-Claude Van Damme movie that I will not name but where he was set on fire (Lance Henriksen, not Van Damme) which he said was fun, and also the series Millenium. He said he almost lost himself in the Franck Black character from Millenium; I’d never really thought about it before, but it kinda makes sense, especially in the case of a very dark and intense character. Acting is a tricky thing in many ways.

Add in a few funny anecdotes, and there went an enjoyable hour and a half. But the panel had an unforeseen effect on me: it made me decide that, for all that I did enjoy it, it was making me miss on the convention itself (isn’t the panel part of the convention? Of course it is. Be still my quivering brain…) and all the crazy stuff happening in the non-organised areas – not to mention the bunch of Aliens nutcases I’d also come to meet and talk to. So, rather than pay too much attention to the program I decided to go back out and hang out with them, foregoing the “Steampunk” panel that had attracted my eye that morning. I figured there would probably a repeat.

Wrong. I missed the panel and a chance to mingle with the Steampunk community, something I quickly came to regret as the costumes came out of the woodwork. See, I had come up with a steampunk idea myself, but I thought it was still a fairly fringe movement, and that I’d probably have to spend most of my time explaining what the costume was, then what steampunk was. But, to my surprise and delight, steampunk has become quite a fast-growing phenomenon, and some of the outfits there were quite astonishing – to the point that my own steampunk bits felt woefully insufficient. A few examples:

Steampunk explorer / terminator

The usual time setting for steampunk is late 1800 – the Age of Steam, funnily enough, early flight and zeppelins and all that. Also the age of hardy explorers in pyth helmets exchanging pleasantries and “What ho!” in the jungle. This one looks a little bit like a cog-and-Tesla-coils version of the Terminator, though, with that minigun.

We aim to misbehave...

The most common costume for steampunk fans is that of the generic “adventurer”, something that encompasses everything and anything from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells’ gentlemen of leisure to pre-Firefly crews of misfits on the edge of legality (like above!). Airship pirates, dilettante archeologists, billionaires in submarines… There was even a steampunk ghostbuster at the con – I didn’t get a pic, but you’ll find plenty all over the web and Flickr. The advantage of this broad definition is that it really leaves it up to you what you want to do. Unlike fandom-based costumes which usually have to stick to the original material, at least in some part, steampunk is pretty much wide open.

The guy just HAS to be a woodworker himself...

Big version for this one because the details of his back-pack – his whole outfit, really – are just amazing. Pretty much all wood and brass, glassed backpack with detailed mechanism inside, beautiful clothes… His partner was gorgeously attired too, and you can see a bit of her crossbow/gun on the right. Unfortunately the picture I took of her came out crappy.

There were others, which I mostly missed or saw when I was camera-less. Fortunately there are plenty of pictures available on the web: Honest Cyber-Abe, a German glider-man, the Cog Fairy (for obvious reasons, I’m really miffed I didn’t see that one myself), and there, I found my all-wood couple again!

 

So, in short: Steampunk is great, and I missed the panel, and that’s my one big regret for this year. The good thing is, it gives me time to work on my costume and bring it to par with those I saw, so that next year I can try the other thing I totally missed that Friday: the official costume contest. Silly idea to put it on Friday night, really…

And so, now would be the time to show pics of the costume in question, but this post has gone on too long already, so I’ll stop here now and talk about said costume in the next entry – description, background, and nice pictures if Kim sends them to me before then. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the only pic of me in the official DragonCon gallery: enjoy!

http://photos.dragoncon.org/main.php?g2_itemId=72620&g2_imageViewsIndex=1

 

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