The Full, Unabridged Dragon*Con Article
As promised, below is the full, thirteen-page, un-edited Dragon*Con article. I think Travis did a great job editing my article and trimming down unnecessary details, but for posterity I wanted to post my recount here. Good times.
Dilemma: How to describe a weekend unlike any other, one of those rabbit hole whirlwind affairs that you want to remember perfectly but can’t, simply because in order to fully live it you have to go balls to the wall and sometimes that involves not remembering every detail. Every Labor Day weekend a crowd descends upon Atlanta for the sensory festival known as Dragon*Con. To the outsider, Dragon* Con can be described as Comic Con’s scrappier, less corporate little brother. The Con-Goer, however, finds Dragon*Con more amazing than chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and Purple Rain and the perfect pair of black leather riding boots. I mean really, this was the best weekend ever. And I want to share it with you. Thus I present to you, in the only way I know how, a series of memories from my first time at Dragon*Con.
1:43 pm, Thursday September 3rd:
Jon, the boyfriend, and I make the six hour drive from Chapel Hill, North Carolina to Atlanta in my little red Honda Civic. The car is packed with many bags, including two devoted entirely to our Steampunk costumes and a small protective case for Jon’s flamethrower (a fancy arm brace cobbled together over an intensive work week from PVC pipe and random brass objects culled from antique stores). In order to enliven the drive, I am playing my favorite songs. Specifically, the twelve-minute version of “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).” I love this song. I love this video. Did you know that Michael Bay directed it? Isn’t that ridiculous? Anyhow, this is going to be the best weekend ever.
6:45 pm, Thursday September 3rd:
Dragon*Con is situated in four hotels in downtown Atlanta: The Hyatt, the Marriott, the Hilton, and the Sheraton. One frantic day in May I secured one room, for five people, at the Hilton. Not at Con rates, unfortunately, but staying in a Con hotel is a major plus, especially because the Con hotels have an entire channel devoted to Dragon*Con. Win! Con-goers are already roaming the streets in various costumes from basic angsty high school Goth to Pimp Santa.
7:00 pm, Thursday September 3rd:
Jon and I had planned to get to Atlanta early to secure our Con registration and badges. This was a massive fail, as the registration line stretches around the block outside the Sheraton and the wait is about three hours. We get in line, make small talk with the girl wearing cat ears in front of us for about an hour, and then suffer rage and fury when Con volunteers tell us that the computer system is down and registration is closed for the night.
9:30 pm, Thursday September 3rd:
We discuss the next day’s plans over hummus and pita (with a side of residual rage and fury) at the nearby mall food court where many a hasty meal with minimal nutritional value will be consumed. A panel with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, the greatest buddy team of all time, is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Friday. Registration re-opens at 8:00 am Friday morning. In order to secure badges and make it to the Shatner-Nimoy panel in time to get seats, we must be in the registration line at 5:30 in the morning. We finish our dinner and return to the hotel to attempt sleep.
1:00 am Friday September 4th:
Jon’s roommate Marc, Marc’s girlfriend Erin, and friend Kyle arrive in the second Chapel Hill wave, thus negating any possibility for sleep and a restful night. Commence much talking, and the inflating of a blow up mattress.
5:30 am Friday September 4th:
Three and a half hours of sleep later, Jon and I are sitting in the freezing lobby of the Sheraton waiting for registration to open. Our plan has met with success, as only twenty people are in front of us. As the morning progresses the line moves outside and around the building. A girl in a mini skirt with platform hooker heels and a hairdo I will only characterize as “skunk” stands a few people behind us. I am impressed by her early morning sartorial commitment.
8:00 am Friday September 4th:
Registration opens! Hundreds of groggy, goosebumped nerds file into a conference room that is set up like a line at Disney World: a giant winding maze. Someone sets up a high five line, resulting in much back and forth hand slappage. I decline participation as part of my goal of avoiding the Con Crud. I firmly believe that not getting sick is a matter of sheer willpower, but foregoing unnecessary human contact never hurts. The badge stations are set up by last names; I file into the G line and secure my badge, program, and schedule. The badge bestows life: I am a legitimate Dragon*Con attendee.
8:45 am Friday September 4th:
Jon and I hike the five blocks uphill to the Hyatt. The Shatner-Nimoy line is already out the door and is moving, meaning that they are letting people into the conference room. This is unusual, but we go with it, and quietly congratulate ourselves on our excellent planning. We funnel into the giant hall and secure seats about two thirds toward the back of the room. On my left is a woman with a dragon puppet perched on her shoulder. His head moves via a little pully she hides in her shirt sleeve.
9:17 am Friday September 4th:
The ballroom is packed. The captive crowd is being entertained by Dragon*Con TV. This primarily consists of low-budget skits and faux-commercials featuring ads for colognes inspired by Vulcan mating rituals and a Klingon version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The skits are interspersed with Adult-Swim style Q&As. White text on black background answers questions such as “What if I have the insatiable urge to lick Patrick Stewart’s shiny bald head?” and “Who would kick more ass, Buffy or Echo?” Dragon*Con TV is played on a loop, so after the third time through I busy myself with planning the itinerary for the weekend. I have different colored pens for Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C, because sometimes that Farscape makeup panel is going to be filled and you’ll have to settle for the Pern Track’s Dragon Sex panel.
10:05 am Friday September 4th:
The Trek Track director, Eric Watts (and his incredibly long beard that makes him look like an extra from Witness), introduces William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Thunderous applause ensues.
10:35 am Friday September 4th:
Shatner-Nimoy funny hour. Clearly, Nimoy exists to reign in Shatner. I sort of want to be Nimoy’s granddaughter. Shatner talks about Esperanto, and his feud with George Takkei. Nimoy basically talks about how Shatner is still angry at not being in the new Star Trek movie. Shatner, pleasantly, fulfills his reputation of being a charming megalomaniac. I am incredibly pleased to be in the presence of pop culture icons.
10:55 am Friday September 4th:
Eric Watts and his beard do an impromptu song and dance across the stage, bearing a sign that reads “Five Minutes Left” to inform the audience about the end of the panel. The crowd is immensely amused, Shatner is immensely not. When the panel ends, Nimoy waves to the audience, and forms the iconic “live long and prosper” gesture. I feel blessed.
11:05 am Friday September 4th:
Starving. Tired. Must remedy.
12:00 pm Friday September 4th:
Food is secured, now a nap will be awesome. We head back into the Hilton, and I see Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, duck into an elevator. I only recognize him because his hair is still dyed that ridiculous Malfoy platinum blonde.
2:30 pm Friday September 4th:
Food, and attempted nap, and now Jon and I are up and donning our Steampunk finery. Jon has a fancy shirt, pants, and vest that he ordered from the interwebs. His apparati are a fancy scientist’s monocle and his arm bracer. My costume is less gadgety: a silk and brocade skirt made by a friend, a lacy vest from Marciano, and a button up white shirt. My ornate Steampunk headband made from feathers, glue, and a few stolen gears, some heeled boots with buttons on the side, and a bunch of random, brassy looking jewelry complete the outfit. Also, gothy eye makeup, as I need no excuse to cover my eyes in obscene amounts of black eyeliner.
3:30 pm Friday September 4th:
Dragon*ConTV plays while we finish getting dressed. The channel live broadcasts some of the larger panels, and we are currently enjoying Malcolm McDowell recounting the story of how he and Stanley Kubrick discovered the perfect costume for Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick asked McDowell to bring his rugby uniform to rehearsals. McDowell complied, only to be surprised when Kubrick had him put on only the uniform’s undergarments. That’s your costume, Kubrick told him. And thus a visual icon was born. I am even more pleased by Dragon*ConTV and Malcolm McDowell when, while thinking of how to answer an audience member’s question, McDowell stalls by chanting “Welly welly welly welly well.”
4:15 pm Friday September 4th:
Jon, Marc, Erin, Kyle, and I are sitting in the packed panel on Steampunk costuming. The turn out is so large that two costuming panels will be needed to accommodate all the people. The Steampunk costumes on display by both the attendees and the panelists are unbelievably ornate: amazing corsets, well crafted bustles, and gadgets made of every material imaginable. Jon is sitting next to a sixty-year old man who has made himself a Steampunk machine gun that rotates. The panelists display Steampunk crossbows, a light up wrist “particle accelerator,” and a Steampunk record player, among other gizmos. I am awed, and amazed, and have serious costume envy.
5:37 pm Friday September 4th:
I spend much of Dragon*Con wandering around in a haze, staring at the amazing costumes, taking pictures of people in amazing costumes, conversing with people in amazing costumes. Jon and I talk to a woman in full Elf gear: body paint, red cat’s eye contacts, even finger attachments. Every few feet an impromptu photo session is taking place. I snap pictures of a Watchmen group, a Greek pantheon complete with an Atlas holding an inflated earth, Bumblebee from that horrible movie with the changing machines, and Carrie covered in stage blood. The costumes are especially distracting in the vending hall, a giant room filled with things I want, in particular a mechanical spider made by the Steampunk artisans Brute Force and some Steampunk jewelry studded with clockwork gears. Except I can’t really focus on the things I want to purchase because in the corner a guy dressed as Max from Where the Wild Things Are is taking a picture with a couple dressed as Mr. Incredible and Elastagirl, and Anthony Daniels aka C3PO from Star Wars is signing autographs behind them.
5:45 pm Friday September 4th :
Also at Dragon*Con: the numerous Alabama Crimson Tide and Virginia Tech Hokie fans in town for the weekend’s ACC/SEC NCAA football season opener. While most of these fans seem curious and amused by the presence of all these costumes in their hotels, a few altercations do occur. Mostly on the street, involving eggs and impolite language.
6:33 pm Friday September 4th:
Food. Sometimes you have to eat. The food court at the nearby mall is a war zone of confused businessmen in suits colliding with a hundred sets of fairy wings and the occasional peace bound weapon. Jon and I get stopped to have our picture taken, which we do while awkwardly holding bags of Moe’s burritos. A Dumbledore walks by with some members of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. This is really the best weekend ever.
7:18 pm Friday September 4th:
Steampunk happy hour in the Hyatt Bar. I stupidly wore my boots with heels, so I perch on a stool while Jon talks costuming basics with our new friends from California. We meet a girl who wears an arm accoutrement that is a functional morse code transmitter. I chat with three women from Jacksonville, all of whom are wearing complicated hats and veils. Costume. Envy. I decide to drink more, as it makes my feet hurt less.
9:15 pm Friday September 4th:
Returning to the Hilton to freshen up, we pass a group of fifty or so muscled men dressed as the Spartans from 300. They must be actors. Or a sports team. They have six packs. A random passerby hollers: “SPARTANS! WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION?!” In unison the Spartans stamp their spears and grunt: “HUH! HUH! HUH!” Squee.
10:27 pm Friday September 4th :
The Dragon*Con planners severely underestimated the popularity of the Steampunk track, as it is new to this year’s Dragon*Con; all the events, including the Time Traveler’s Ball and Fashion Show, are in small rooms. Therefore my vodka tonic and I are currently waiting in line at the Hyatt to get into the Steampunk dance party. As usual, people are talking about their costumes, Rub and Buff paint, and the merits of PVC pipe versus cardboard as construction materials. Atlanta’s local Steampunk band, The Extraordinary Contraptions, entertains the crowd while we wait. The lead singer wears a white wig, and plays the wind instrument version of a keytar. An upright bass is also involved.
11:27 pm Friday September 4th:
Time Traveler’s Dance Party! Since I am in a hotel conference room I feel like I am at a Bat Mitzvah party, but with better clothes. We missed the fashion show, but several of the models are still hanging around the party. In particular, two women dressed as crazy Steampunk aliens. One of them is pierced every which way; I bet her face hurts. A man walks around on stilts, and two women, one dressed in a gorgeous emerald green gown and the other in a beautiful white gown studded with peacock feathers, pose for photographs with resident Steampunk theorist G.D. Falksen. Dragon*Con is all about the drinking and dancing, and I am hopping about to the random techno being played by an unseen DJ. A really convincing Severus Snape is whirling around beside me; I keep getting hit by his robe.
12:56 am Saturday September 5th :
Jon and I are valiantly struggling to stay awake for the 1:30 Abney Park concert. Abney Park sings about airship pirates and their instruments are covered in gears! Excelsior! However, we are exhausted because we have been awake since 5:00am. Also, my feet are killing me. We are slumped in a chair in the lobby of the Marriott, across from a woman with a miniature bird cage on her head. I don’t want to be a lame Steampunk person. But I am tired. And so is Jon. We reluctantly head back to the Hilton for bed, but not before stopping for a photo-shoot stand off between Jon the Airship Navigator and a man in an extremely well-made Iron Man costume.
2:45 am Saturday September 5th :
I would love to be asleep, but Kyle keeps banging on his air mattress in rhythm with the heavy metal music blaring from his iPod headphones.
10:00 am Saturday September 5th :
Dragon*Con boasts an extremely popular parade that winds its way through downtown Atlanta. Unfortunately, we have slept through most of it. I wake up and quickly steal the bathroom. Kyle wakes up and discovers that he has put a hole in his air mattress.
10:45 am Saturday September 5th :
I re-don my Steampunk costume. Many people bring four or five costumes to Con. Being novices, Jon and I have one each. And we will wear them repeatedly for many hours. We stave off Con Funk by taking numerous showers and applying deodorant, cologne, and perfume liberally.
12:00 pm Saturday September 5th :
We leave the Dragon*Con world for a mediocre lunch at a local bar and grille. I would much rather stay at the Con with people who understand why I am wearing black lace fingerless gloves. A random college student in the ladies’ room compliments me on my headband. I am pleased by my handiness.
1:00 pm Saturday September 5th :
While walking back to the Hyatt we stumble upon the photo session for the super hero crowd: grown men and women in copious amounts of spandex. The costumes seem Marvel heavy, though I see a stray Superman or two striding about. An extremely convincing Heath Ledger style Joker is doing knife-to-face photo shots with random passersby. I furiously text my father, who introduced me to all this glory in the first place: “Green Lanterns! Tons of them!”
1:30 pm Saturday September 5th:
The Marriott lower ballroom level seems to be the most crowded zone at the Con, filled with impromptu photo sessions. The bands have tables set up in this area, and the Cruxshadows table is the most crowded area, mainly because of the two blonde, underdressed, attractive Cruxshadows backup singers/dancers who are posing for pictures. They are wearing black fuzzy boots, fish nets, and wings.
1:45 pm Saturday September 5th:
Pimp Vader and Boba Phat walk by, with cups and chains and fuzzy hats. Best. Weekend. Ever.
2:00 pm Saturday September 5th :
I buy a Steampunk resin set necklace with clock gears in the vendor’s hall. Jon buys an expansion for Munchkin, a game mocking Dungeons and Dragons. At the Brute Force booth, a middle-aged woman with cropped bleach blonde hair and ice blue contacts comes to have her corset adjusted. She is a divorce attorney. Her job pays for her addiction to expensive leather-worked outfits.
2:10 pm Saturday September 5th :
Overheard at the Utilikilt’s Booth: “Congratulations! I hope that you enjoy your newfound freedom!” I later ask a random Utilikilt wearer what one wears beneath his Utilikilt. He raises his eyebrows and shakes his head. I wonder if he ever worries about accidently flashing someone on the escalator.
2:15 pm Saturday September 5th :
Impulse buy of the Con: a tiny, hand-knit, green Cthulhu which I am sure is much cuter than H.P. Lovecraft ever intended. The dark lord wants me to put him on my bureau and coo.
2:30 pm Saturday September 5th :
OH MY GOD THAT WOMAN’S COSTUME IS A GIANT JAYNE HAT.
2:40 pm Saturday September 5th :
Jon and I decide to walk into an already-in-progress panel, just out of curiosity. I have to swallow a squee, because Kate Mulgrew is onstage in front of me, and this woman is a brilliant actress who has played many a Kate in her time: Katherine Hepburn and Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager to name a few. Female nerds particularly love Kate, as Janeway is the only female Star Fleet Captain with her own series.
3:30 pm Saturday September 5th :
We randomly decide to attend the Working With Joss Whedon panel featuring James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia from Buffy and Angel), Julie Benz (Darla from Buffy and Angel and currently Rita on Dexter) and Kristy Swanson (the original Buffy from the fun but forgettable movie). I always forget that James Marsters isn’t actually British. Cordelia Carpenter is gorgeous. Julie Benz keeps insisting that she doesn’t put much thought into the feminist theory of women playing kick-ass vampires on television. No one cares about poor Kristy Swanson. I feel awkward for her.
5:00 pm Saturday September 5th :
We rejoin Marc, Erin, and Kyle for a costuming panel for the Apocalypse Track. I leave when the panelists arrive, as I am hungry and the panel seems to be about teaching one how to look like a homeless astronaut or one of those cannibals from The Road. I go to the food court, chat with a girl in a Jayne Hat about that night’s Firefly Shindig, and am soon joined by Jon who, like me, thought that the panel was too many trash bags, not enough skill. To each their homeless chic own.
5:45 pm Saturday September 5th :
Once back at the Hilton, Jon and I decide to check out the Walk of Fame before it closes at 6:00. The Hilton doesn’t have too many Dragon*Con activities, but it is host to a large room filled with many celebrities who sit around and chat with fans and take pictures. Though many of the tables are empty, most of the cast members from my favorite shows are still present. All of the Battlestar Galactica people are there, including Mary McDonnell who is luminous and whose President Laura Roslin made “airlock” a word of terror, and Alessandro Giuliani, who turned the potentially forgettable character of Felix Gaeta into a study of tragic idealism. So many amazing performers, so much effort not to squee.
6:50 pm Saturday September 5th:
Jon and I are in a packed elevator at the Hilton with a busty pirate wench, a man in a motorized wheelchair, and the tallest man I have ever seen. He is probably in his 60s, with a tan and lined face, watery eyes, and scraggly, long hair. The knuckles on his hands are twisted, and his long fingers grasp a cane with a pewter skull head. The man in the wheelchair asks the giant where he got his cane and the pirate wench answers: “A fan gave it to him.” I look at the tall man’s name badge. Peter Mayhew. Peter frakking Mayhew. OhmyGod. Jon and I get off our floor.
“JON WE WERE JUST IN AN ELEVATOR WITH CHEWBACCA.”
“THAT SUPER TALL MAN WAS CHEWBACCA.”
“Oh my God.”
“OH MY GOD.”
9:30 pm Saturday September 5th :
Every fan track has their own party, and Jon and I are currently at the Sheraton, waiting for the Shindig, the Firefly themed party, to start. In the ballroom next door to the Firefly party is the Battlestar Galactica Party. At the Hyatt is the Last Night on Alderaan Star Wars party. Somewhere a Yule Ball filled with Hogwarts witches and wizards is commencing. The Shindig line snakes by a full scale replica of the TARDIS from Dr. Who. Commence impromptu photo session.
10:18 pm Saturday September 5th :
I’m sharing a vodka tonic at the Firefly Shindig with a Xena the warrior princess, complete with the double chakram weapon Xena acquired during the second half of the series (excellent detail). The Shindig band, Emerald Rose, is a folksy group that plays a lot of music conducive to line dancing—evidently everyone at this party knows how to line dance. Jon is demonstrating his arm apparatus to a man dressed as Badger, a minor character from Firefly. I have another drink and, spotting the Jayne hat woman across the room, squee.
10:25 pm Saturday September 5th :
I really have to pee, but I’m not allowed to leave the Shindig because the ballroom is at capacity and if I leave someone in the long line outside will go inside the room and take my place and I will be stuck outside and this is unacceptable. I choose to stay and suffer.
10:50 pm Saturday September 5th :
Feet are killing me. Why did I wear the high boots again? Detour to the hotel to put on sensible shoes for the rest of the night, even if they don’t really match my outfit.
11:33 pm Saturday September 5th :
Jon and I are lined up for the Cruxshadows concert at the Hyatt. Jon’s really into the Cruxshadows. I’m unfamiliar with them but they are super gothy and super techno-y and evidently they are huge in Europe and I have a gothy sixteen year old girl who lives inside me and emerges at opportune moments. We chat with a man with a red brocaded coat and a Green Lantern ring. “My girlfriend gave this to me,” he says, showing us his ring, “so I married her.”
11:55 pm Saturday September 5th :
The crowd in the Hyatt lobby is being roped to the side to allow the Cruxshadows line to file into the ballroom. As I look at the people milling about the lobby, I spot a man in wizard robes and a woman in a skimpy white slave costume making out. Like, a lot making out. Like, please get a room making out. And then, the man’s hand starts doing things to the woman that should not be done outside of the privacy of one’s home. Photography is prohibited in certain Con areas after 10:00pm, and now I understand why. The outside world should be spared images of this nerd on nerd action. I fear this particular scene will haunt me many months later.
12:05 am Sunday September 6th :
Waiting for the Cruxshadows to take the stage. We are in the back, and the Jedi contingent seems to be at the front of the fan base, as all I can see are lightsabers, waving in the air. A young guy in a t-shirt that says “Go Geek Not Greek” approaches me.
“The dark lord would like to motorboat you.”
He produces a beanie baby version of Cthulhu. “The dark lord wants to motorboat you, and I will take his picture, and document his conquests on Twitter.”
I take the dark lord into my hands, and let him motorboat me. And let the guy take the picture. It probably isn’t that exciting, considering I am in conservative Victorian garb with a white shirt buttoned up to my neck. Still, if the dark lord commands, I must obey, or risk great punishment from the Lovecraftian Old Ones.
12:50 am Sunday September 6th:
The Cruxshadows put on a good show, mainly because they have hot blonde backup dancers and a woman who plays the electric violin. The lead singer, Rogue, has a ridiculous hair cut that is shaved on the sides and long on the top; he is wearing more black eyeliner than I am, which is saying something, because gothy sixteen year old Lindsay loves black eyeliner. At one point Rogue runs into the middle of the crowd and performs a few songs standing on a chair, much to the joy of those who are not the Jedis in the front. I am dancing to the gothy techno music, and it is awesome, and the Severus Snape from the Steampunk party is, once again, dancing next to me. He is clearly my soulmate in movement.
1:30 am Sunday September 6th :
Jon and I have rejoined Marc, Kyle, and Erin. We are back on the street, waiting for the Hyatt ballroom to empty for the 2:30am screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, complete with live reenactment by Atlanta’s Rocky Horror troupe Lips Down on Dixie. A group of people in Road Warrior style costumes dance by, carrying a boom box blasting nondescript club music. Several of the members of the roaming rave have Florida Gator paraphernalia soldered to their breastplates.
1:40 am Sunday September 6th :
Some asshole throws an egg at the line and yells “Freaks!” The egg hits Kyle, much to Jon’s and my relief. Kyle isn’t wearing a costume, but we are, and we really didn’t want to pay those dry cleaning bills.
2:30 am Sunday September 6th:
The Cruxshadows are evidently doing six encores and despite my enjoyment of the show I really want some Rocky. An extremely drunk, extremely skinny girl is behind me trying to start Rocky cheers. She needs to calm down.
3:05 am Sunday September 6th :
Barry Bostwick, who played Brad in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, introduces the film and gives the performers playing Brad and Janet keychains that say “asshole” and “slut,” respectively.
3:30 am Sunday September 6th :
Doing the Time Warp Again! Jon has never seen Rocky Horror (I am shocked, this movie defined my 9th grade) and is gamely trying to dance along. Kyle loves the movie, and sings and dances with much abandon. However, the acoustics are poor, the picture quality is worse, and Jon and I end up leaving after “Sweet Transvestite” to try to get some sleep before 5:00am. The Atlanta Frank-N-Furter is played by a really sassy black man, and while I regret not being able to witness his performance, there is always Dragon Con 2010.
10:00 am Sunday September 6th :
Four hours of sleep, a shower, and a packed car later and we are at the Marriott, attempting to start a line for the 1:00 pm Patrick Stewart panel. I love Patrick Stewart. I love him as Jean-Luc Picard. I love his commitment to Shakespeare. I love his shiny bald head. And I want to be front and center for his panel. We are near the front of the makeshift line, and we continue to harass the Dragon*Con volunteers regarding the legitimacy of this line. I start a sheet that says “End of the Patrick Stewart Line” and pass it to the people behind me. I am pleased to see the sign’s existence an hour later.
11:05 am Sunday September 6th :
Organization at Dragon*Con frakking sucks. The volunteers randomly decide to move the line, upsetting a number of people who had been lined up since 9:30. We manage to maintain our relative position, despite rude cutters jumping into the chaos, but a number of people are not so lucky. I engage in a mostly civilized confrontation with a Dragon*Con volunteer and a woman in a leather dog collar. Her Con badge name is “Alan’s Slave,” and Alan’s Slave and I attempt to convey our extreme displeasure to the bewildered volunteer. Eventually Jon and Marc pull me back into the line, stating that resistance is futile and at least we didn’t lose our place. Jon placates me by giving me his iPhone, so I can Wikipedia “Cthulhu” and brush up on my mythology.
1:00 pm Sunday September 6th :
Captain Jean-Luc Picard. We are fourth row center, and get to witness Picard in all his glory. Patrick Stewart is a natural raconteur: charming and funny and slightly self -deprecating. He talks about his recent projects: Waiting for Godot with his friend Ian McKellan. Hamlet with David Tennant, the latest Dr. Who. The Scottish Play in Brooklyn. Patrick Stewart is the real deal, and I want to hug him and thank him for portraying all his roles with integrity and honesty and to tell him that I love theatre too, and that he is one of the greatest actors of our time.
1:35 Sunday September 6th :
The panel is in full audience question and answer mode. A twelve-year old in a red Star Trek command uniform steps to the microphone, claiming to have a riddle for Patrick Stewart:
“I am in every episode of The Next Generation, but I am only in one. Who am I?”
I am terrible at riddles, but I rack my brain nonetheless. Suddenly I gasp (cliché, I agree, but literally, I gasp and grab the girl sitting next to me. I do not know her). I know the answer to this kid’s question. Patrick Stewart doesn’t. He beseeches the audience for help.
My hand shoots up, Hermione Granger style.
Patrick Stewart calls on me (!!!) I try not to hyperventilate:
“He is you, I mean, Picard. From an episode where you, and Ensign Ro, and Guinan, and someone else, I forget…”
“KEIKO!” shouts the audience
“Right, Keiko.” I continue, being handed a microphone by a volunteer. “Anyhow, the four of you are in a transporter accident, and it shrinks you down to your adolescent selves. So he is you. Just, a mini you.”
Patrick Stewart looks at me. “I have no recollection of that episode.”
I laugh. So does the audience. “Well, you weren’t in it very much. It is very charming, the actor who plays you does an excellent Picard.”
“…I’ll have to find it in my DVDs when I return home.”
Patrick Stewart goes on to explain that the Star Trek writers would construct Picard-light episodes around the holidays, in order to allow him to perform A Christmas Carol in Washington. The twelve-year old verifies my answer, and Patrick Stewart thanks me for solving the riddle.
“Of course!” I say, but what I really want to say is: Patrick Stewart you are a great actor and why haven’t you been knighted yet (evidently Queen Elizabeth was thinking the same thing) and ohmyGod thankyou for calling on me mental squee!
2:05 pm Sunday September 6th:
Patrick Stewart talked to me. I had a conversation with Patrick Stewart. Best. Weekend. Ever.
3:00 pm Sunday September 6th :
As we prepare to leave, I realize how little of Con I actually experienced. In another hotel groups of gamers playing cards and live action roleplaying games hide unseen. I didn’t attend any of the literary tracks, the comic book panels, or the vampire groups. I only briefly sampled the Star Wars activity. Dragon*Con is like the universe: I would love to visit all of the planets, but the power in my warp core is limited.
3:30 pm Sunday September 6th :
Jon and I are back in my little red Civic. We are leaving Atlanta. I am so sad. I want to go back to Dragon*Con right now. We stop at a Wendy’s about an hour outside of Atlanta to grab some food. I am struck by the lack of people in costume. I feel like someone has taken away my lollypop; the best weekend ever has ended.
Epilogue 8:00 am Wednesday October 1st :
I am attempting to reserve a Marriott room for Dragon*Con 2010 at reduced Con rates. Con rooms become available at 8:00am, and they are sold out by 8:15. I curse, and call some Marriott numbers, and worry about being late to work. At 9:25 I decide to reserve a room at the Sheraton—my second choice for a Con hotel. I am successful. Dragon*Con 2010 is a reality.
Thus ends my recounting of Dragon*Con 2009. If you are feeling adventurous, try a Con of your own—perhaps I’ll see you at Dragon*Con 2010? I’m already planning my multiple costumes. Cthulhu watches over my work with approval. I hope the finished products make the dark lord squee.
 Con Crud is any sickness acquired at Con. Sleepless nights, crowded rooms, and a lack of access to nutritional food facilitate the spread of disease. Savvy Con-goers take all precautions against contracting the Crud.
 At Con, you do need your stinkin’ badges. Your badge is access to all areas of the Con, and losing the badge is a disaster as eplacement fees are terrifying.
 Also, Nimoy is a fairly promiment collector of contemporary art. How cool is that?!
 Nimoy and Shatner are good Jewish boys, and the Vulcan gesture is actually the gesture made by ancient Jewish priests and modern Jewish rabbis while blessing individuals or the congregation. Represent!
 In order to bring a weapon to Dragon Con it must be peace bound, so called in order to maintain the.
 A squee, or “to squee,” is when a fangirl (or boy) emits a loud, high-pitched squeal of excitement, particularly when seeing someone cosplaying as their favorite character from an anime/television show/movie/speculative literary source/comic book etc. This can be either grating or charming, depending on the identity of the squeer, the time of day, and the number of times the squeer has squeed in a given weekend.
 Look, Dragon*Con features a lot of people in small, tight spaces. Sometimes these people are wearing costumes that are not sufficiently ventilated. Sometimes these people are gamers who want nothing more than to play Dungeons and Dragons for hours. Sometimes these people forget to shower. Not often, but sometimes. I only encountered one such person at Con. Unfortunately, it was in an elevator.
 A Utilikilt is a utility kilt, usually black, but available in any color. Utilikilts are rampant at Con, for what man wouldn’t want to be a modern day William Wallace, but with more pockets?
 A Jayne hat is a visual trope from the short-lived Joss Whedon space western Firefly. Jayne, played by Adam Baldwin, is the mercenary muscle of the cast. In one episode, his mother sends him a hideous red, yellow, and orange handmade knit cap, complete with a top pom-pom and dangly ear flaps. Many Firefly fans at Con wear recreations of the Jayne hat. One clever and crafty Con-goer, however, went as the Jayne Hat. Genius.
 “Frak” is the expletive of choice in the Battlestar Galactica universe.
 It does.