- June 5th, 2014
- I had some concerns coming into the con this year. Mostly centred around the Guest of Honour, George RR Martin. He was signed to the convention before he hit big. Of course, the con sold out during the pre-reg period. I later learned the cap was 1700, where usual con attendance was, I think, 1200-1400. Anyway, I was anticipating space issues and potentially, problems catching elevators. Turns out, that wasn't really as much of an issue as I thought and the constaff did a great job with crowd control.
- As has become my custom, I left the house around 4:30 (0-dark-30). Only stopping briefly for some coffee and to drop some ice into my cooler so my vest would be frozen for opening ceremonies (since I didn't expect to be checked in before hand). I made great time and got in ahead of traffic arriving at the hotel around 7:45. For the time being, I grabbed my chess set and headed into the hotel. I had intended on getting ahead on some of my online games since I would be tied up most of the weekend, but I ran into JR and he challenged me to a few games. While playing, I got to talking about how I still wanted to build a second character, but lack the funds to make it happen. He told me about how he's been helping some of the people in his fan groups use kickstarter and said he would help me with that if I wanted. So, I plan on getting things moving ASAP and once I get some progress made, I'll ask him to help me out with that.
- Dealer's room setup was about the same as it always is, lots of trips up and down that insanely step loading dock hill. The only thing different about this year was that none of the vendors opted to use the service elevator on the other side of the hotel (possibly by request of the con...I don't know). One thing I noticed is that I wasn't getting nearly as tired as I usually do...more on that later.
- I had expected my hotel room mates (Chris and Tina) to arrive during or even after opening ceremonies, but they got in with just enough time for me to get my stuff up to the room and suit up for opening ceremonies. I hadn't planned on actually attending, especially since they were requiring lines for anything involving this years main guest, George RR Martin. My plan is usually to hang around the area and pose for pictures and stuff. I was surprised that the room didn't actually fill up. I came in and just hung out until things got started, then wandered off for my usual romp through the dealers room and around to the fan tables, then sat in on one of the costuming panels.
- One of the things I had noticed on the schedule this year was a panel called "Evolution vs ID/Creation". I found it odd that this would occur at a sci-fi convention and had a feeling that Creation would be horribly under-represented. I mentioned on Facebook the day before the con that I had intended to sit in on this panel and that I expected to be in the far minority (if not completely alone against the room). I arrived a few minutes early, and wasn't there long when one of the other Fans For Christ members walked into the room. She was already having a conversation with an atheist who had come in with her. She was also here for the panel and the FFC fan table just happened to be right outside the room where the debate was to take place. As it turned out, I was right, all of the panellist were on the Evolution side with one who was "willing to argue for ID", except that his argument wasn't for God, it was for aliens. So had I not shown up, there would have been no representation for God at all and had I not posted my intentions to facebook, I would have been alone (which was fine too). The actual conversation was surprisingly even handed and civil and I was very impressed with the frankness of the panel. It was refreshing to finally discuss a topic like this with people who were not afraid to admit that they don't have all the answers. And on the flip side of that, one of the panellists commented that I was the first Christian he had encountered that didn't display fear when confronted with a different point of view. I think if they decide to run this again next year, I will likely offer to help and given my demenor in the panel this year, I think they would accept.
- By the time that was over, I was pretty hungry. I was invited to join some of the FFC members for dinner. We went across the street to TGI Fridays. Most of the discussion centered around what had just happened in the EvsC panel, but there was also some general discussion about the FFC and of course, the upcoming karaoke session we were about to participate in.
- Next was Klingon Karaoke. This year, I didn't really plan or practice anything. I was just kinda winging it. My 1st attempt was Peter Gabriel's Shock the Monkey, which I botched horribly. I forgot how much variation was in that song and really struggled to find pitch. Later, I went to something that was different, but that I knew I could do, Wierd Al's You Don't Love Me Any more. Songs like that are already funny, but having someone do them while if fursuit seems to add to it. Right after that, I was asked to join in with Bill and Jerriann on Devil Went Down to Georgia, and agreed, so long as I could run up to the room and get out of suit first. I'm disappointed that one wasn't recorded since my wife loves that song so much.
- I was hardly able to sleep Friday night (not unusual for a con) and woke up early hoping to catch a panel called Books and Breakfast. I thought it was listed for 8, but it ended up being 9. So I walked over to Chick-fil-a for something to eat. Not long after I arrived, some of the other con goers started showing up in PJs and stuff and Chris posted on facebook that they had been woken up by a fire alarm. Turns out there was a small kitchen fire, but everything was OK. I returned for Books/Breakfast and was disappointed to see that it was only a panel and not really an open discussion or just a chance to mingle and talk about books. Of course, most of what I read is non fiction and wouldn't be of interest to sci-fi fans anyway, so I didn't stay long.
- I did my first run through in partial suit next. One thing that was interesting about this year was the fact that with our main guest (GRRM), there were a LOT of people there this year who were not typical con goers. People who were there ONLY to either see him or get his autograph. Not only did they stand out, but I actually felt more like I was at a regular town festival or one of my church events. From a performance perspective, it kept me on my toes and made for some interesting...and awkward moments.
- During my break for lunch, I did something I don't think I've ever done at a convention, I bought something! One of the game vendors had some collectable ponies and Dr Whooves just looked too awesome to pass up.
- At the beginning of the con, I was approached by Keela. She always seems to have something cleaver set up for KAG to do and this year was no exception. We went down to the dealer's room at 1:30 and escorted Anthony Montgomery (ST Enterprise) from his signing table to his panel. She also presented him with a birthday cake during the panel and led the room in singing happy birthday (no...not in Klingon). I was able to stay long enough to do that, but that was about it....
- I had not even left Anthony's panel when I was approached by con staff and asked to assist with the GRRM autograph line. Keep in mind that I'm still in full fursuit at this point. I told them I wasn't sure what I could do, but I'd go check on it. When I got out there, I could feel the tension (both from staff and attendees), I was asked to try and help keep the lines in order and prevent line jumping. I didn't know how I could force people not to be jerks, but maybe I could, at least help lighten the mood and calm things down a bit. Weather I was, in fact, able to help...I'm not sure and somehow, I have a feeling I actually made things a bit worse. One things for sure, there were a LOT of unhappy people after all that got resolved.
- I had hoped to crash the costume contest, as usual, but the timing just didn't work out this year, and after going outside to help out with the line, I was just too tired. Instead, I opted for the Dr Who panel and dinner. I had been invited to eat with three different groups. I opted to eat with Chris and Tina and we decided on Boardwalk Billy's. As it turns out, the FFC ended up going over there as well and actually sat near us, so I kinda got to eat with two of the groups after all.
- I had wanted to try some new things with Leo this year. I remembered that, a few years ago, I had dressed Leo for a 'pajama party' at one of the schools I had volunteered at and it looked really good. I decided on a t-shirt instead of the bulky bathrobe and I think it worked out really well. In fact, not even one hour after Chris took a picture of me and posted it to facebook, one of our friends had turned it into a MEME. I took a test run around the convention and checked out all the room parties on the way back to my room for a quick break before Klingon Karaoke.
- Like I said before, I didn't really bring a 'set list' with me or practice anything. I wasn't even planning on performing Be Prepared, but it was requested of me earlier in the day, so I did it. My last selection was Closer to the Heart, Rush. After that, I went back up to the room, changed clothes and hung out a bit more at some of the room parties before crashing for the night.
- Since the FFC had agreed to meet poolside again, I came down a bit early and swam a bit before everyone else arrived. The service went very well and there was more discussion about all that had happened this weekend.
- Of course, conventions last through Sunday and there is plenty to do at ConCarolinas on the final day, but I have so much to take care of myself and there are so few people around, that I don't really count it as a "con day". After the FFC service, I packed up Leo and all my stuff and loaded the car. Then I grabbed a hot dog from the hotel concession stand and went over to the game room. I was very pleased to see Empire Games had just dealt a game of "I Drank What?" to a packed table. Fortunately, there was one chair left and I jumped in. Talking to the EG person running the game (I think his name is Scott...I can never remember), he informed me that they had tweaked some of the rules and released a 2nd edition. The big change was that Drain the Glass now yields 3 cards instead of 2 and that a poisoned player or ANY toast now ends a turn. I'll have to pass that along to Nate next time I play at his house.
- Eventually...it was time for dealer room tear down. This year went unusually smooth, in fact, we were able to do it faster than any other year as far as I could tell. One thing I will not miss about the convention moving to a new hotel is the hill outside the dealer room, although, who knows what challenges await us next year at the new site.
- Closing ceremonies was about the same as every year. Volunteers collected a bunch of free stuff and there was plenty of discussion about the future and the new hotel. I didn't expect much in the way of complaints as anyone who would be upset about not getting a GRRM signature would have (and likely did) left Saturday.
- Toward the end of Closing, I said goodbye to Chris and Tina and started to get ready to leave. While saying bye to a few other friends, I ran into a family who has a disabled child. I remember the child from other years, but this year, she was in a wagon instead of a wheel chair. I always figure there is a story behind things like this, but I don't pry. We had a lengthy discussion about the challenges they have faced and the miracles they have experienced. But then she said something to me that really hit home. She told me how much it meant to her that I would, not only treat them like an otherwise normal family, but also to take the time to try and interact with their daughter (last year, I didn't encounter them in costume this year). It is somewhat rare in ministry of any kind to actually see how your actions have actually touched someone else's life, but it is something we need at times. That moment where you are reminded of why you do what you do. It was very inspiring...