I had a lot of goals coming into this year's convention. This, for me, was quite a change from previous years. As it turns out, this would be the first convention of any sort where I was pretty much moving non stop. The new venue alone was enough to make this year feel so much different, but not having any extra time definitely added to it. The weekend flew by and I essentially ran out of time....and I don't regard that as a bad thing.
0800 Dealers Room - My standard assignment as a volunteer. The dealer's room set up at this hotel was awesome. We just had everyone pull up to the loading door and cart stuff directly into the room. No insanely steep hill or long walk down the access hall to a loading bay on the other side of the hotel. It was so much easier, most of the dealers didn't really require much of us. If I hated everything else about the hotel, this feature alone would make me want to keep the con in the same place next year.
1500 Opening Ceremonies/1st outing - My traditional first outing. I pretty much hung out around the main programing room and popped in and out of opening ceremonies to see what was going on. Afterward, I finished touring the new hotel in suit. It was very cool inside which prolonged my time in suit and I was able to go about 2 hours in this session. Being a new hotel, I got more attention than I'm used to from the staff...including the spa people who caught me as I was getting ready to head upstairs.
Shopping - One thing I have hardly ever done at a convention was drop any serious money. This year, I had saved up and was determined to get a few items. Not only for myself, but for Tina and the kids. I got a few games for Gabriel and Michael and a dragon figurine for Tina.
1930 2nd outing (shaming Leo) - There were plenty of times this weekend where I would stop to catch up with friends and I'm not sure exactly what time I got back in suit. I figure it was around 7:30 since I was ready to quit about the same time the dealer's room closed at 9.
On this outing, I decided to do something new. I brought a small white board and I allowed people to write messages on the board and basically shame Leo. I didn't really get many takers, but everyone LOVED my original message "I ate (or did not eat) Schrödinger’s Cat!". I think my favorite otherwise was "I drank from the toilet and framed the dog!" I will definitely bring that back for next year...
I always wake up early at conventions, but I don't really understand why. Part of it might be the different bed, but I think the excitement of what the next day holds has more to do with it. Both nights I set my alarm for 6:30 and woke up within 10 minutes of it going off. Amazing how that works.
Anyway...I went down for breakfast (included with the room) and took some of the materials I was reading in preparation for the Creation/Evolution panel later taking place later in the day. As the dining area filled though, I would be joined by friends and would end up not getting all the reading done that I would have liked....although, I was not disappointed with it.
1000 How would religion deal with extra terrestrial life? - I saw this panel on the schedule when I arrived on Friday and decided to sit in. While I regard this as an interesting mental exercise, I can't say I put a great deal of thought into it. I has also resolved NOT to participate in this conversation. I knew most of the participants would probably show for my panel and I didn't want to get involved in a discussion I wasn't quite as passionate about.
The panel consisted of 5 people, one of them was Jim Craig, who I knew would be in my panel (and likely moderating it). He is an Atheist and an Evolutionary Biologist. Pretty much the philosophical opposite of me, but in our previous conversations, it's become clear that he is just like me in the sense that he loves the pursuit of truth and is very open toward those who disagree with him or challenge him. The other 4 on the panel were much more problematic for me. They all professed to be Christian, but during the conversation, they all committed catastrophic theological mistakes. I think at one point, all 4 of them professed multiple paths to heaven. One even stated that he couldn't believe there were people that would look at him with a straight face and proclaim that the universe was created in 6 days. Had I broke my silence, I think it would have gone very bad because I definitely wanted to call out all of them.
For all the absolute crap flying around in that discussion, there was one person, in the audience who made, by far, the most profound statement and it was worth sitting the entire hour to hear it. He stated that, by definition, God, Jesus, the angels and demons are all extra terrestrial beings and Christianity is how we responded to that.
1100 World Record - Yes! We set a world record. We placed scarves patterned after the iconic ones worn by Tom Baker (the 4th doctor). I actually don't have the official # right now, but I hope to have it soon. I brought 2 scarves contributing about 24' to the total.
After they got the official measurement on the scarf, I had just enough time to get to the Q/A session with Joel Hodgson. I hate to admit, I don't think the questions were that great, but he did a great job of playing off the audience. He did hint (very strongly) that an MST3K reboot was being discussed and might happen.
3nd outing - All the pictures I posted on FaceBook came from this outing. I gave my phone to Chris and asked him to follow me around and get some pictures of me. I timed this session so I would end up at Joel's signing table when he was there so I could get my picture with him. This is the first time I have ever paid for anything like this from a convention guest and even though it still seems silly, I am glad I did.
Before getting in costume this morning, I did notice an odd film in the water I use to chill my cool packs. I feared the worst and it was confirmed later in the day. After I got done with this last outing, I melted the cool packs and tested them for leaks. Sure enough, I have a pinhole leak in on of the cells and it will be unusable from this point on unless I can find a way to reseal it. I'll need to call the manufacturer for advice on that later on.
I got out of costume about 2 ish and went down to help cover the Fans For Christ table. We spent quite a bit of time discussing the upcoming Creation/Evolution panel. In the course of the conversations, I forgot that there are those in the FFC that hold to biblical interpretations far different from mine and at one point, I had to stop in the middle of a verbal exchange and assure some of the people I was talking to that, in our disagreement, I was NOT questioning their salvation. It's possible that my delivery might be too strong and I was able to adjust that for the actual panel, but it is also true that most Christians do exactly that. "If you don't agree 100% with me, then you aren't saved". The big problem with that is, I am human and there's no way I'm 100% right anyway. It's exactly the sort of thing that causes discord and strife between people who should be working together and it is not how I operate.
1600 Creation/Evolution - Last year, I attended this panel, but there was no representation for God. There was one person willing to argue intelligent design, but he argued that aliens deposited life on this planet. I mentioned it to Jada and offered to represent Creation. I was taken up on the offer and was on the panel for this discussion. Overall, I did OK, but it was much different being behind the table (and microphone). Things seemed very slow in the beginning, but I think the 3 of us were just being standoffish. Once the audience got their questions going, things really picked up. I was able to answer every question that was put before me, but since I mostly study theology, that was the basis for all my answers. Toward the end of the panel, things started to get heated between a few members of the audience and I had to step in and help settle things down, but otherwise, it was a very pleasant experience.
After the panel, I returned to the Fans For Christ table and, as I would expect, the conversation followed me there. I expected to be challenged, but I expected those challenges to come from the atheists. What my boldness revealed instead, was just how many casual and Liberal Christians there are in this environment. Next year, I will certainly be more prepared for that.
2100 Riff this movie - Even though Joel was not going to attend this panel, I can't resist a good riffing session. The movie was a Japanese rip off of Star Wars called Message From Space. 90 minutes of magical nuts chasing unlikely heroes across the cosmos and a Kabuki Darth Vader....'nuf said.
Normally, late night on Friday and Saturday night means Klingon Karaoke. That didn't happen this year, but the hotel bar did karaoke on Saturday night. I did go down there to check it out, but it really just wasn't the same so I left after a few songs and did not participate.
The room parties were another let down. The new hotel is very open, so people were, understandably, not able to just have their rooms open to the outside, but I was surprised to see that there were only 3 parties this year.
0900 Fans For Christ - I still wish the convention would allow the FFC a little space on Sunday mornings, but we still manage. The service was good as usual, but with all the conversations from yesterday, I hate to admit, I was a bit burned out and had a little trouble focusing.
The rest of the day was spent packing for the trip home and tying up loose ends. I noticed, when I picked up Leo's mask, that the jaw wasn't sitting right. When I examined it closer, I saw that one of the hinges has completely come off. I honestly don't know if I can fix this one, but of course, I will try.
Throughout the day, I ran into a few people who sat in on the previous day's panel and asked me some really good questions about my views on Creation and Christianity in general. Those conversations continued even during and after my assisting with the dealer's room tear down. The set up for loading and unloading the room was so much easier than the old hotel, I really didn't feel like I had worked.
On the way home, I stopped at Nate's for his birthday party. I showed him the games I picked up. Fluxx was a huge hit and I will definitely need to bring it next time. My kids, BTW, are also loving the games I picked up.
This weekend overall was great, but not without problems. Among the good was meeting one of my favorite comedians, Joel Hodgson, participating in a world record and being able to run around in costume and be generally silly for a few days.
The panel and conversations I was involved in reminded me of how little knowledge I truly possess. That is not a shortcoming because I study quite a bit. No, this is simply a human condition. There is no way I can be prepared for everything people are going to throw at me. I can tell you that some of the answers I gave during the panel were definitely led by the Spirit because I'm not typically that good (especially behind a microphone). One thing that did come out of all those conversations is the revelation of why I have been called to do this. I am not there to "win" the debate, but to demonstrate that one can be a Christian and still have an inquisitive mind and even more important, to demonstrate the love of Christ. Over the past several weeks and during the convention, I watched and participated in debates and I saw several who profess to be Christians viciously attack those who oppose them. I was very careful not to do that and actually ended up being a peacemaker in the panel. There is a possibility that I will be doing more panels next year and I am grateful for that opportunity.
Then there is the bad. Two very major mishaps with Leo this weekend. Yet another issue with the jaw and now an issue with one of the cooling packs. The cooling pack issue is easy enough. Either I can seal the leak or I have to replace it. The jaw is another issue. To be honest, I'm inclined to stop fixing it. While it is one of the most unique features about Leo, the mask is 8 years old now and really showing it's age. If I were to try and repair the jaw at this point, it would likely involve a complete reworking of the apparatus.
I have wanted to build a new suit for a few years now, but never got around to working on it. I got really serious about that in my mind this week and I'm discovering that my delaying this might not just be my lazy tendency. I am having a very hard time thinking about being anything besides Leo (even a different version). As far as feelings go, I can really only compare this to the way Tennant's doctor felt before he regenrated. Sure, if I build a new suit, I will still be Leo, but at the same time, I will not. As strange as it might sound, I will feel like a part of me has died. I remember when I was entertaining the notion of having Leo built, Matt (Wally Wolf) told me "if I don't do it, it won't be right" and he really has no idea how right he was. I have been avoiding this for far too long and it seems that reality has finally caught up with me, but it will be a very hard thing to do...
- ConCarolinas 2015 recap