So, here is the Dragon Con post I've been promising! For the two people in the world who still don't know, I went to Dragon Con over Labor Day weekend (August 30 –September 2). We had been planning this since last October, so it was a much-anticipated thing over which I've been geeking out for 8 months solid. A bit of background: due to my fibromyalgia and back injuries (and knee injuries), I am unable to stay on my feet or walk very far at a time, and Dragon Con takes place spread over fourhotels and the AmericasMart building, several floors in eachlocation, up and down hills, so there is a lot of walking to be done. The last time we tried to go, I was in so much pain after just an hour that we weren't able to stay very long, so this year we acquired a wheelchair so I could actually enjoy my time there and not cut short anyone else's enjoyment, for those who came with me. I still wore out much more quickly than anyone else, but we spent an average of 9 hours a day there (minus Saturday, where I was not feeling well enough to go). One of my friends from Fargo flew down and spent the weekend there with us, so we also traveled to Atlanta on Thursday (29) to pick her up, and Tuesday (3) to take her back, so lots of traveling back and forth between Athens and Atlanta over the past week. But we had a blast!
Friday was mostly Star Trek panels and Sunday was mostly Whedonverse things, although we also went to a Jim Butcher panel and a panel with several Star Wars writers and a panel with the Crüxshadows. Garrett Wang ran all the Star Trek panels, so he was at all of them. We saw George Takei, then went to a DS:9 panel with Terry Farrell, Cirroc Lofton and Avery Brooks, then a TNG panel with Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn and John de Lancie. Our brains broke a little when we discovered John de Lancie was one of the voices for My Little Ponies. Wewent to see a Crüxshadows panel so I could see Rogue and his band in person, although sadly I was not able to attend their concert, which was at 1:30 a.m. (Eastern) on Monday morning. The Buffy panel included Nicholas Brendan, Kristine Sutherland and James Marsters, and the Dollhouse Panel was Miracle Laurie, Eliza Dushku and Tahmoh Penikett. The Star Wars writers' panel was Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston, all of whom I love. In any of the panels where we were close enough to the front, I took a few pictures of the people (most of which didn't turn out because no flash allowed and my hands shake, but a few of the best are here), but the Whedonverse panels I was sitting way toward the back so wasn't able to take any there. We spent as much time just traipsing from one place to the other as we spent in panels; it takes a lot of time to navigate places in a wheelchair! Especially when elevators are involved. Whenever possible, we would just use escalators; I would cling to the railing and Dmitry would fold the chair and haul it up or down, because finding an elevator, fitting onto it, and then managing to reach the correct floor were all tricky, and the elevators all tended to close FAST unless I could stick my foot in the door!
Some thoughts on the people we saw. Garrett Wang is hilarious! He was always “on” and cracking jokes left and right. George Takei was just as charming and entertaining as we expected. I wish I'd had a chance to talk to him, maybe shake his hand, but we didn't manage to go to the Walk of Fame. Cirroc Lofton didn't seem very enthusiastic to be there, but he's very witty when he wants to be. Avery Brooks is amazing to listen to. That voice he did as Cisco? That's just how he talks! He's very erudite and we wanted to have an hour just to hear him speak. Terry Farrell has a real potty mouth, which we foundextremely amusing. Marina Sirtis is wonderfully snarky and fun to listen to. Michael Dorn has lost some serious weight—we wonder if he's maybe been ill? John de Lancie is lovely and very funny. Nicholas Brendan is really funny, too. We had to wonder how much of Xander was just... him. Kristine Sutherland is also a very funny lady, and had some great stories to tell, as did James Marsters. Tahmoh Penikett was pretty outnumbered by Eliza and Miracle, but they all also had some great stuff to share. I really wish Joss Whedon had been able to follow his plans for Dollhouse; I think it would have been amazing.
I found Rogue to be a wonderful person. I really enjoyed listening to his plans for the band, and his goals and dreams. My husband, on the other hand, fell asleep... We have a very different perspective on the Crüxshadows: I love their music because of the lyrics and the thoughtfulness and uplifting message, while he likes them because they're “catchy”. Still, we both love the music, so it's all good.
The Star Wars panel was excellent, although we were a few minutes late. Timothy Zahn had a birthday, so at the end of the panel we all sang “Happy Birthday” and the panel moderator gave him a cookie cake. Zahn, Stackpole and Allston came up with a new story idea right there in front of us, and I'm hoping they can develop it because it's really cool! I'm a big fan of Michael Stackpole's Star Wars books, because they're very funny. Zahn I'm just a fan in general—I've read a lot of his books. Aaron Allston was ill; I felt so bad for him, because he just looked miserable, but he was charming and a real trooper. I hope he feels better now, or very soon.
The Dealer's Hall was a real mess. Check out the truly amusing picture John Ringo shared on his Facebook page. This was scarily accurate. A maze of crowds and me at butt level, which is not nearly as much fun as it sounds... (people were all eating fast food all weekend!! EEEEEE!) We went into there three different times and never managed to find the Star Trek: DS9 T-shirts I wanted to find. I did, however, meet a number of my favorite authors, and a couple new ones. Among those I met: A.J.Scudiere (search my blog, I've read and reviewed every single one of her books and they are brilliant!), Mercedes Lackey, John Hartness, Randy Blackwell, D.B. Jackson, R.S. Belcher, L. Andrew Cooper, James Tuck, John Ringo, Troy A. Carrington... I talked to a couple romance authors but I can't remember their names. I missed Faith Hunter and Kevin J. Anderson (although I did manage to acquire one of his books, signed). John Ringo, A.J. Scudiere and L. Andrew Cooper all gave me books, which I was quite psyched about. I also was given anadorable little stuffed guy from A.J.'s God's Eye book. I can't remember the character name, sorry; my memory is bad like that. I did not manage to acquire any autographs in my little journal, but a number of my books were signed. Finding Mercedes Lackey was a fluke—a happy fluke, but not intentional.
As I mentioned, I missed Saturday. Still, my husband brought me some lovely gifts that day; he picked up a Crüxshadows T-shirt for me, and two CDs from James Marster's band, Ghost of the Robot: Roast of the Goatbot and Mad Brilliant. I will need to rip them to put them on my MP3 player, but I'm looking forward to hearing them! I was disappointed I couldn't take advantage of the chance to meet Rogue and co. in person; they were doing photo ops right after their panel, but it was late in the day and I'd had a very long day and was ready to sleep. Still, we did see Rogue and one of his backup dancers out on the street on Friday, carrying his toddler. I didn't realize it was really him! His hair looks completely fake in person, and I thought it was someone cosplaying Rogue! But, I have now seen him up close and personal. And it was probably good I didn't realize it was actually him, because I probably would have fangirled all over him...
I also have a great John Ringo story! It was while we were trying to reach the Star Wars panel and we were running late. We were on a deserted back street and suddenly came on these two guys in an alcove. My husband said to me, “And there is Mr. John Ringo.” I immediately went fangirl on him, “Oh, wow, Mr. Ringo, I'm such a huge fan!” and he gave me a smile, reached into his bag, and said, “Here, have a book!” Such a nice guy! He's also self-deprecating. In response to my thanks on Facebook, he said, “Well, I'd look like a real jerk if I didn't give a book to a fan in a wheelchair!” So I have my very own copy of Under a Graveyard Sky in which a zombie apocalypse kills Voltaire (but the Crüxshadows survive). I imagine other things happen, too... Well, you'll see my review when I read it. I wish I'd had time to go to his autograph session and have it signed, but again, alas.
L. Andrew Cooper was an author I just stumbled upon. He had several J.H. Glaze books at his booth, and I recognized them since I have the e-books. We started talking and turns out he's a professor that teaches various film study classes, including one for which he wrote the textbook Monsters. I expressed interest and he gave me a copy of the textbook (he asked me not to tell his publishers, so shhhh). Another great guy! He has several books in which I'm interested, so I've been adding things to my wishlist like crazy. Same with Troy A. Carrington, whose Hounds of Set I know I've seen somewhere, but can't recall where. Well, they're on my wishlist now! I also bought a number of books, a pretty ring (I must have shiny things) and a button that says “Death to Various Things” as well as a “Keep Calm and Cthulhu Ftagn” T-shirt.
Let me tell you, spending the weekend in a wheelchair is an eye-opening experience. For every person who held a door for us, or held an elevator for us, or cleared a path for us, there were 4 people who crowded into an elevator for which I had been waiting through three elevators already, 7 people who bumped into me, a dozen who cut too close and tripped over my footrests, and 3 who abruptly stopped right in front of me directly inside a door. Most people acted like they didn't see me, or gave me uncomfortable smiles. It was really weird. While I was able to go down a few steps, or use an escalator, I can't imagine how frustrating the whole thing must be to people who are unable to leave their chair at all. Going through many of those places was anightmare! A lot of time people would describe the “access” areas, which were usually way out of the way and difficult to find, resulting in huge detours and general annoyance. It has certainly changed my perspective on a lot of things! If you see someone struggling through a crowd on a wheelchair, try not to crowd up on them. If you see that part of the sidewalk is broken up with trees and dirt, do not force the wheelchair into the dirt, 'cause that's just a real pain to go through. If you see someone waiting for an elevator, try to help them out. Try to help clear a path. Trust me: I would have appreciated a few more people helping me out. I can't speak for everyone, but for me? I really did appreciate every person who helped me navigate through the crowds over the
So, that's my Dragon Con report. I had a great time, met some great folks, and am hoping we can go again in future years. A few bits of advice if you plan to go: work out your panels well ahead of time, make maps, learn the shortcuts, and never, ever plan to go to back-to-back panels unless they are in the same room, or at least on the same floor in the same hotel. If you have to travel to even another floor, unless you're willing to take the stairs or escalators, you will be late. From one hotel to another? Forgeddaboutit. If you want to go to a big-name panel, arrive at least two sessions early. Seriously. We came out of a Whedonverse panel and there was one intervening panel in the same room before Jim Butcher and we just stayed there. I was first in the disability services line, but I wasn't alone for more than 3 minutes before a long line had already formed, and the entire rat's maze behind me had filled up with other people waiting for him. We sat in that line for two hours, but it was really worth it. Last-minute people were not able to even come in. Also, if you can find a hotel room right there, go for it. Traveling back and forth was a real hassle. We had no choice, though, because we had to come home each day to take care of our dog and make sure the cats hadn't destroyed the place. Still, staying right in one of those hotels would have been totally worth it. We spent close to $100 just on parking. Saturday was apparently the worst because there was also a football game and the parking lots were overcharging. Also, if you plan to skip any given day, make it Saturday, or skip the parade. Apparently there were so many people no one could see anything. My husband spent the entire time standing on a two-inch window ledge in the Hooters window and still couldn't see over the crowd. I spoke to another lady in a wheelchair whose family showed up at 8 am to sit on the curb and apparently right before the parade a family plonked their chairs down in the street in front of her kids and refused to move out of her way. So, my last piece of advice: if you do go to Dragon Con, don't be a jerk. Actually, that's pretty good advice in general.