Saturday, September 13, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dragon*Con Monday

I'm home now and already wishing I was back there. Grandma pretty much told me to go away immediately.

Anyway, here's what happened this morning. We got to the con in time for Kim to do her panel and me to get to the Dragon*Con store for a few things. I also managed to get Susan Kearney's autograph before catching the train to the airport.

When I got to the airport there was a problem. The kiosk kept telling me I had no reservation. So, I got in line and warned Kim to meet me when she got there. She did, literally just as I was talking to the counter agent. Apparently, when the trip was changed about it negated my ability to use the kiosks. I do not recall Expedia warning me of this in their emails to me. Also, the flight WAS the later one. We did get through and everything was fine. The flight was just great. I dozed a little and stitched and read some. I finished Susan Kearney's book I'd won.

Now I just have to finish cleaning my room and tomorrow the Dish Network will be installed.

I talked to Mom about me going next year and she's not quite enthusiastic, to say the least. I think I can convince her, but it'll take a little while, I think. Yes, I realize how pathetic it sounds for a 32 year old woman to need her mother's permission to take a trip like this, but I need to consider Grandma's needs above all. I'll be getting two weeks vacation next year, so I can spend one with her and the kids and one there.

I really need to do this, I think. For my own sanity. I was surrounded by people who made me feel normal, not like a freak.

Dragon*Con Sunday

Today I woke up on time and woke Kim. The guy woke up, thanked us and left. I dressed and took off, getting to the convention in plenty of time to eat a nice breakfast at the diner in the Peachtree Center. Metro Cafe or something to that effect. It has really good omelets.

Then I went to my first panel, Other Worlds, Other Times. It was basically about world-building in SF/F Romance. Before it started I talked to Susan Sizemore about some books we had in common (tastewise). I also let her know when John Scalzi's reading was going to be, so she could go. She had been squeeing over him on Saturday. When we were talking about some of the earlier SF/F Romance writers I mentioned Anne Avery and Sandra Hill told us why she doesn't write anymore. Apparently, when the previous paranormal bubble burst, noone would buy her books. That's a pity since I really liked hers. Anyway, she and CL Wilson signed Creature, both seeming quite delighted. Oh, and I won a Susan Kearney book I don't have yet!

Second panel, Let's Hear It For the Boys. I walked over to the Marriott for another YA panel with Tammy. She's going to think I was stalking her, when I swear I wasn't. I could have gone to EVERY panel and session she had but I didn't. I just went to the interesting ones. This one was, obviously, about boy lit. Boy lit being, in my opinion, anything that will make a boy read. The panel each had slightly differing views of boy lit. We ended up in a discussion about covers and their effect on whether or not a boy wil pick up a book or even be scared away from the YA section thanks to the current overdose of Barbie pink covers. Also, the point was brought up that clerks, not necessarily librarians are conditioned to bring boys to the SF/F section of the store and girls to the YA section. I countered with the fact that I went straight from Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys to SF/F and found my way BACK to YA basically as an adult. I left with an offer by one of the panelists to put my mystery plot on her stumpers board to try to figure it out for me.

Third panel, Dark Secrets, Shadowed Hearts. This time we were putting alpha males on the chopping block. The consensus of the panle was that an alpha male, broody dark hero and an insufferable jerk are different in that there's good reason for what an alpha does. Personally, I disagree with them to a point. Rape is rape no matter what. Abuse is still abuse even if Joe Hero has a tortured past that gives his behavior an explanation. Hence the reason I don't read Christine Feehan's Carpathians anymore. She crossed the line and her so-called heroes are in the insufferable jerk side of the equation now.

Fourth panel, rather than dodging people and standing in line to get to the Don S. Davis tribute, I decided to stay in the room I was in and listen to the Love Bites, Love Bleeds panel about vamps and weres and such in paranormal romance. I now have new authors to try and Lori Handeland is coming out with an urban fantasy that sounds intriguing. I also got her autograph on Creature. Amusement and the idea that it's a good idea seems to be the overwhelming reaction to seeing my poster. I love it.

I hit the Dealer's room and got those poetry books. I bought all six of them since I couldn't decide. Oh, and I found a sterling claddagh to replace my other. I also got a card of someone who might have Greg Pak's 1602.

Fifth panel, A Bloody, Burning Painful Death Is Coming For You! Just what it says. This one was Dr. Cmar talking about things like Dengue Hemhorragic Fever and the plague. He actually managed to find pictures of people with them and I was just fine except for a few pictures. Most of those were of kids dying of them (none survived) and the other was an eye that had literally deflated. Apparently the docs were able to re-inflate it and the patient kept much of his vision. Cool, huh? I asked him my two questions about the 1918 epidemic and our preparedness level and the plant he was talking about in the first lecture. I didn't sound stupid! He seemed pleased by the questions. Yay me!

Sixth panel, Messengers From the Gods. This one was about comets and their historical effect on humans! How cool is that? I've actually been looking for data on comet sightings and their cultural effect and here's a panel on it. I even was able to supply an answer whent he lecturer forgot the name of the Bayeux Tapestry. Of course, I stupidly raised my hand when he asked if anyone had seen a meteorite, but I still felt good about the fact that now I have a lead to do research for my NaNoWriMo.

I ate something after that and checked on the flights, then went back to the hotel. I don't think I can squeeze in any time at the con tomorrow (technically today since it's 1am). I'm all packed but for my sleep clothes, the computer, iPod and a notebook. The computer will be going away as soon as I shut it down, as will the notebook. The iPod and clothes, well, I kind of need them until tomorrow morning. I might get off at Peachtree and wander briefly over the to the Dragon*Con store. I'd kind of like to get that book Jean Marie Ward's been plugging. I'm just as happy getting it online, though, so maybe just to the airport while Kim does her last panel. I'll see. Right now I must go to bed. My eyes are closing on me. It's a good thing I'm going to run a spell-check on this before I actually post it. I'm cringing at the thought of the mistakes I missed while typing.

I really want to keep going to Dragon*Con. I wonder if there's a way I can swing it each year, even if I go alone.

Dragon*Con Saturday

I woke up late Saturday and still had to walk up to Wal*Mart to get a few essentials. I woke Kim up and told her about the late-bus thing then I walked up to Wal*Mart and got a bunch of fruit to eat during the day as well as a calling card to top up my phone. I caught the bus and we sort of went right by Kim standing at the other stop for the other bus. Oops.

So, I got to the con just in time to catch the tail end of the parade. I saw the pirate ship, the Klingon Biker Chicks, the Star Trek people, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Dark-Hunters and the Star Wars people. So, of course, riding high on the euphoria of seeing Sherri and Ash as well as cardboard box Star Wars characters, I realized I'd lost my badge. I hurriedly pushed my way through the crowd, retracing my steps to where I'd had it last. It was gone. Completely gone, as in $90 right down the proverbial drain. Rather than panic, I made my way to the info booth in the Hyatt. The gentleman there was sympathetic when he told me I'd have to buy another one. My heart thudded right around my feet at that point. He then told me to try security first to see if anyone had turned it in.

I held on to some hope, as everyone at the con had so far been extremely nice and it seemed like a decent crowd of people. However, the silly thing was a four-day pass. Anyone on the street could save themselves $90 just by keeping it. So, I got to security and much to my delight, I had lost it about fifteen minutes before and someone had JUST turned it in. The lady said this was the fastest one had been picked up that she could recall and gave me some duct tape to secure it to the clip better. I did so immediately, thinking, please let me get to Robert Englund in time!

So, first panel, Robert Englund. Is it only nice guys that can play horror roles? Oh, by the way, Kenneth Johnson just sent him something about V: The Next Generation. Yay!!!!! And I have to pick up his Phantom. It sounds bone-chillingly awesome.

Second panel, Susan Sizemore. Snarky, funny and smart. I like this woman. She mentioned that at some point she might out the Primes and this could be lots of fun. Who knows? She signed Creature and was totally impressed with James Hong's signature on it.

Third panel, Tammy. It was an hour with Tammy and since Sherri was in the room next I figured I could just sit comfy through two of my favorite authors. Tammy talked about some of her characters and herself. She was asked who her favorite character was and she had to pick two: Kel and Tris! Yes, my favorites. Oh, and she talked about the fact that Kel's squire is going to be one of the girls from the book Squire who asked her about being a knight. Of course, this will be a few years off since she has other books she has to write first. I can be patient, especially since I really like Beka Cooper. A few of the people got up and told her how much her books had supported them through really bad school experiences and it choked her up. She said something to the effect that it was the highest praise anyone could give her and she always appreciated hearing it.

Fourth panel, Sherri. Oh, wait, not Sherri because they kicked us out of the damned room and would have made us go to the end of the line even though we had technnically been there at least an hour longer than anyone in line. So, I went to the Magic and Religion in SF/Fantasy panel instead. It was interesting. Nothing spectacular, but not boring either. I did get really hungry in it and started eating my plums, carefully and as quietly as I could.

After I ate, I went to the fifth panel, Gay Themes in the Dr. Whoniverse. Given that I can't really remember the original series very much, I was lost until they talked about Dr. Who and Sarah Jane. Torchwood I'll be getting as soon as we get Dish, but I still have to catch up on the past seasons. Just from his appearances on Dr. Who, I know Jack will do just about anything that is even remotely alive. The panelists and audience seemed to agree that in the past nothing was overtly gay and on rare occasions a tad homophobic, but that the new seasons are much better. I have to admit, I never really latched onto any gay themes in the shows although the one panelist swears Maria is a "budding lesbian" and Sarah Jane is her first girl-crush. Okay.

Sixth panel, Eureka! A panel about the show and unfortunately, Kevin Grazier has worked in the government sector too long and is REALLY good at keeping secrets. He gave NO spoilers, the rat, but he did sign Creature for me. He seemed to get a kick out of it.

Seventh panel, Alternative Sexuality in YA Literature. I hit a lot more book panels than I thought I would. I figured I'd be going Star Trek mad and I never got to one of them. Anyway, the theme is clear from the title and we spent most of the time swapping names of books and authors we thought had decent parts or treatment of GLBTs. I plugged Misty and Tammy. One woman really disagreed about Misty and I can see her point. She points Van through hell. He even gets raped in one of the books. Not that that had anything to do with his sexuality, he was simply convenient to a bunch of raiders at the time. If it had been a female Herald, she'd have been raped too, but she does use the "he's gay, so his father treats him like crap" plot device. Other gays she gets to treat better, but maybe that's because none of them are the ultimate hero and heroine. Firesong is a snippy little bastard in the beginning, but that's because of his inherent magical abilites. He grows up. Anyway, one lady was actually able to remember the name of one of the books I remember the plot of but nothing else! Choosing Time, possibly by Octavia Butler. I'll be checking it out as soon as I get home and finish cleaning my room for the dish installation.

I went back to the hotel after that and fell asleep after listing the panels I wanted to see Sunday and Monday (about 1am!). Kim got there about 3:30 with a friend who needed to crash for the night since he'd had a wee too much to drink to make it as far as he lives. We have a couch in the room. And I've already forgotten his name. Nice guy.

Oh, and just for the fun of it, the entire weekend I was surrounded by seas of orange from the Clemson fans. Apparently, they were losing, badly, on the way back to the hotel.

Dragon*Con Friday

Friday Kim and I left Scranton very early in the morning. Basically, I left the house just ten or fifteen minutes after I would have for work. Ugh! The first day of my vacation and I still had to get up at three in the damned morning. Oh, well. After all my lists and redoing the lists, I forgot something. Thankfully, we'd only gotten a few blocks and were able to turn around easily enough. I really did need the credit cards I'd tucked away so I couldn't touch them until Dragon*Con, though. I guess I did too good a job of dismissing them from temptation.

The flights were easy enough, no drama: Avoca to Cinncinnatti and Cinncinnatti to Atlanta. Since we carried all our bags on, we had no luggage to check and retrieve. No muss, no fuss. Same with getting the train to the convention. We paid for our Breeze 4-day pass and got on the northbound train. Did you know that there's an escalator in the Peachtree Center that is just plain huge? I asked one of the Marta workers and he thinks it's about 120 feet long. I have a picture of it from both ends. Wow! Anyway, we got our badges after getting turned around a bit, and then I went to check us in at the hotel.

Okay, Kim must have packed anvils, because her suitcase weighed a friggin' ton even after she took things out she thought she'd need. So, I went back down the escalator and was told by a Marta gentleman to get off at the Civic Center exit on the Northbound train. Um, no. Not quite. I got off there and realized the bus I needed was not there. So, I asked another gentleman and he said I was actually needing the Midtown station, one back along the rail. Alright. This time I was at the right place. A lovely young woman saw me looking at the map trying to confirm my spot and volunteered the information I needed. We ended up on the same bus and she and I had a conversation the whole way. She told me exactly where to get off and how to walk to get to the Days' Inn.

Checked in and of course, we have a problem. First, the door was being painted so I thought it was a utility room and walked around the building, up a funky flight of stairs to a grassy area and thought I was going completely nuts because I couldn't find the damned room! Went back around and asked the maintenance guy about it and realized it was my room. He was done, so he left and I settled in a bit. The wireless doesn't work. However, according to the clerk I can use the lobby's wireless. Wa-hoo! "Yeah, Kim'll love this", I thought.

So, back to the con. I found Kim's booth and there was a brief panic when I thought I'd have to give up my panels to attend it. I really didn't want to give them up. I guess everything worked out, because I was safe from Girl-Wonder duty all weekend, although I did hype it to some people so I wouldn't feel bad. Well, actually I didn't really feel bad anyway, because I wasn't here to hawk a podcast, I was here to attend panels and stalk people for autographs.

So, first panel, Brad Dourif. For all the creepy, fucked-up characters he plays, he is a genuinely NICE guy. I may not like the Chucky movies but he has a true affection for them. It was interesting to to hear some of the stories he had. He really loved the work he did on LOTR. Too bad I never watched them closely enough to notice him. Of course, his work on X-Files really left him with good memories, too.

I intended to go to the Stargate panel next but quailed when I saw the line looping and wrapping back in on itself, so I ate, then hit the Dealer's Room and Walk of Fame instead. At the Dealer's room I found I poet of really awesome dark and twisted poetry. I promised to go back when I decided which book I wanted. More on that later. I did, however, buy a new signature poster. I found a Creature From the Black Lagoon reproduced movie poster, not just a reproduced lobby card! It's 11x17 and I tagged their business card so I can see if they carry Abbott & Costello, The Giant Gila Monster and Court Jester. I also got a little baseball card-sized cartoon of the Creature. It's really cool.

At the Walk of Fame I got (paid for) autographs by Mickey Dolenz, David Prowse, Robert Englund, Brad Dourif, Matthew Lewis and James Hong. I wanted Adam West, but $50 an autograph was a tad more than even I could justify. Peter Mayhew was very tempting but I wanted the others first. Let me list my impressions of the guys.
Mickey Dolenz: a tad spaced out, but nice.
David Prowse: more bemused by the whole thing, especially when I placed a Creature poster in front of him. He reminded me he had nothing to do with it. I told him I knew that, but I liked having all my signatures on one thing rather than millions of photos to keep track of. He did sign it with "David Prowse, Darth Vader".
Robert Englund: another total sweetie. I had to bring up the fact that I loved him as Willie. When I showed him the poster he reacted great. Apparently, he's always liked it and he even acted with Julia Adams in a movie and the actor who played the scientist was his teacher! What an amazing coincidence. It was just awesome.
Brad Dourif: again, really nice. When I showed him the poster he agreed that it was an awesome movie.
Matthew Lewis: I told him I couldn't wait till the the last movies so Neville could kick ass and he totally agreed with me, of course. His reaction to Creature was that he'd never seen it before. I, of course, told him he absolutely had to and he said he'd look for it. I hope he does. He was neat, even when being embarrassed by another one of his fans who was there.
James Hong: LOL. He played along that he had been in Creature in the make-up. It was cool.

Second panel, Emerging Infectious Horrors! Alright, with a title like that, I had to go to it. The panelist, Dr. Cmar, works at Johns Hopkins with, you guessed it, infectious diseases. He talked about diseases that the medical world considers current major threats, like the flu and measles. It was interesting, although I chickened out on asking a question because all the others were bringing up medical terms I could JUST decipher. I felt like an absolute stooge in there a few times. His panel on Sunday is A Bloody, Burning Painful Death Is Coming For You! Yes, I will be attending that one.

Third panel, She-Roes. Tammy and strong female characters in books, need I say more? Actually, it was a well-rounded panel with lots of opinions from them and from us. Kim and I both went to this one. The only one we attended together, actually. After that, I went back to the hotel. Had a bit of an adventure when I realized the two buses I KNEW I could take stopped at 10 and 10:30 and it was past 11. Thankfully the bus driver asked me what I was waiting for, else I would have had another hour to wait. I got back to the hotel along with another convention guest who knew just the way to go and crashed.