Fantasy, and lots of it.I don't normally leave the house much, mainly because I find myself thoroughly unwelcome in the outside world, what with its harsh sun, angry marauders, and potential to rob me of my dignity and vast riches. This weekend, however, I made a rare exception to the golden rule that has kept me from being terrorized by civilization. I say that somewhat lightly, seeing as how I'm mostly a Boo Radley sort of guy who leaves only in the dark of night, but with little provocation I joyfully defenestrated the rule that kept me confined to my bedroom and free from mortal terror. I immediately proceeded to laugh, dance a slight victory dance, and then wet my pants in fear of the Pandora's Box I just smashed open. The reason for all of this talk about going outside is because I recently did just that, only on a slightly more epic scale. I left my house, got in my car, and proceeded to drive 680 miles to a science fiction and fantasy convention called Dragoncon, held every year in Atlanta, Georgia. If you're asking how something like that happens, don't ask. I'm still wondering myself. I mostly despise fantasy in all its forms and science fiction is always hit or miss. All I know is that I've never gone to a science fiction and fantasy convention before in my entire life, so there is no precedent for this sort of random insanity. It just seemed like something too stupid not to do, and I tend to do things based on how impractical and potentially disappointing the results will be. In this case, I was rewarded with a fun and entertaining weekend that you can now joyfully read about even though you don't want to.
Friday, Day 1
I departed for Atlanta at 5:30 AM Central Time, which if you ask me, is the time zone God meant for us all to use. This is my usual bed time, but I made a noble sacrifice and actually used a small portion of the night to sleep, thus making sure I wouldn't fall unconscious while driving and careen my vehicle into some volcano or off a cliff, which are common problems faced by traveling Americans. The first several hours of my trip served as an important reminder of one hideous fact: Indiana is the worst state in the entire universe. I have lived in this festering piece of godforsaken corn-covered rubble my entire life, and I hate it more than anything. Anything outside of Indiana is better than everything inside of Indiana. Even things that aren't geographic locations, such as racism, Stalin's crazy killing sprees, the holocaust, Pol Pot's lovely work in Cambodia, and child murder are better than Indiana. Indiana needs to be destroyed. If anything, the government should use this state as its place to dispose of all the unwanted nuclear, chemical, and biological wastes. The entire state border could then be lined with the bodies of Indiana Loyalists, marking to travelers everywhere that the Hoosier state is now a Forbidden Zone. Had this been earlier in the year, I could have amused myself by counting how many fireworks billboards would line the highways, but alas, I was destined to suffer the monotony of Indiana without the aid of redneck amusements. As strange as it sounds, Kentucky and Tennessee are amazing to behold when juxtaposed with Indiana and were quite pleasant to drive through so long as I kept the radio off and the armada of country music stations at bay.Ben Grimm showed but failed to provide anything even remotely resembling a clobbering time.When I arrived in Atlanta my worst suspicions were confirmed. All northbound traffic was backed up for what appeared to be a thousand miles. I broke my glasses a long time ago, though, so I think my eyes might have been playing tricks on me there. It's hard to believe these massive highways that President Eisenhower spent years of his life building with his bare hands were now serving as parking lots to fleeing motorists. This mass exodus could mean only one thing: the entire city was evacuating to make way for the invading hordes of greasy, costume-clad nerds making their annual trek out of grandma's basement to spend the weekend on foolish and embarrassing pursuits. A news report I later watched on TV, obviously on a propaganda network owned by the state government, tried to tell me that people were taking advantage of the Labor Day weekend to vacation outside of the city. What lies! This evacuation was an effort to escape and quarantine the massive human acne scar that was covering the city in the form of a nerd convention. Seeing all that traffic made me realize that I had gone too far, and that there was no turning back. Also I was already there, so it would have been pretty stupid to immediately turn around and drive another 680 miles home in motionless traffic.
When I exited the highway, I began seeing roaming fat people. Normally obese people are a fixture of every American city, seeing as how we're all so fat and stupid, but these were no ordinary fat people. I was in the hot zone, and all about me overweight nerds were canvassing the area. Don't get me wrong, not all nerds are overweight, but the first ones I spotted definitely were. I then hit my hotel room and killed some time watching season 3 of "Mr. Show" on DVD. After that, my friend Marie "elf pr0n" Peccia, a thoroughly swell gal and member of our beloved forums, showed up and told me of the terrors that would be coming in the morning. In addition to letting me hang out with her the entire weekend without beating me senseless, she also took some of the pictures included in these here Dragoncon updates, so bonus points for her! As for the coming terrors, well, I could face them. As the one cool guy attending this nerd meet, I was prepared to serve as an unbiased observer to all of the living monuments to nerdiness that would be lurking about. That's what I told myself all throughout my eleven hour drive to a science fiction and fantasy convention.
Saturday, Day 2
Dignity, LEAVE THIS PLACE AT ONCE!
Sauron barely made it through airport security to spend the week standing menacingly in this hotel lobby.The time had arrived to get our badges; else we would not be welcome in the Kingdom of the Dweebs. No way was I going to be a pariah at a science fiction convention – I had too much pride to throw my name in the mud in such a shameful manner! The wait in line was fairly boring, although it didn't take too terribly long. Marie and I killed the time by trying to come up with offensive names to put on our badges that would shock the establishment, but generally failed to generate anything interesting. The highlight of this exciting adventure was seeing an overweight women, probably in her late 40s, wearing an extremely tight Starfleet uniform with non-matching Krispy Kreme employee hat. She carried in her hands, much like Jesus carried the weight of the world in his hands, several boxes of donuts. I cursed myself for not taking a picture, though my camera thanked me for not torturing it with such an unsettling image. After lots of unnecessarily stressful consideration, Marie suggested I use "Badge Name" as my badge name. This was perfect, seeing as how it allowed me to spit no less than fire into the eyes of this very convention! Take that, Dragoncon, you weren't prepared for such a scathing display of wit! I don't remember the specific order of anything that happened during the daytime portion of Saturday, so the rest is a disjointed account of various activities crowned by the events that happened in the evening. I should note that not seeing somebody in a costume, usually one drastically inappropriate (portly people in spandex, for example), was a rare occurance. Everything about the weekend was surreal and disturbing, mostly because of the overwhelming number of people dressed so frighteningly.At first I thought this guy was at the wrong convention, then I realized he was the Sandman.I think the first place we hit was the exhibitors room, which wasn't too terribly awful except that most of the booths were filled with garbage, such as pieces of wood covered with foam that were apparently used as swords by people who like to pretend they're knights. I assume such apparatuses allow socially inept fantasy role-players to exercise their sexual frustrations by safely beating each other with the crudely made equivalent of medieval Nerf weapons. One thing that should be pointed out is that some sort of regulatory committee needs to be put in place to review and approve bumper stickers. Honest to god, I've seen retarded bumper stickers before, but all the bumper stickers I've seen in my entire life could not equal the utter retardation concentrated into any one single bumper sticker sold at this wretched place. Even a car covered with Linux stickers would look like a godly chariot next to any car proclaiming itself "Official Limousine of the Vulcan Embassy." All I know is that seeing those stickers caused a brutal Korean riot to break out in my mind, subdued only by the equally imaginary Korean riot police that is my commendable sense of self control.
The dealer's room, which was essentially the same thing as the room with all the exhibitors, only downstairs and with a different name, was a lot more tolerable. While it had a welcome assortment of crappy vendors, it did manage to perk my interest with a few neat oddities. I regretfully ended up spending too much money here, which was bad considering I came here as an unbiased observer to judge and mock these people, not support them financially. Marie and myself felt especially sorry for the poor guy who had to work across from the booth selling crappy gothic orchestral music of some sort, since he was probably having a hard enough time dealing with the fact he was wasting his life selling terrible video game soundtracks to gullible people such as Marie. The terrible music inspired another Korean riot to break out in my head, and this time I imagined it was subdued by a rare and especially boisterous swarm of killer bees. Not too far away was another dealer selling clothing and accessories for overweight women who for some reason or another (probably being horribly pathetic) believe themselves to be witches. Good game ladies, put on your magic muumuu and curse me to Hell. In the end, I walked out of this flea market of dorkiness with a poster version of the cover of the first issue of the pulp comic "Captain Satan: King of Adventure" along with other spoils of equal or lesser stupidity. I'm pretty sure Marie spent her life savings on music from "Dance Dance Revolution," and I vowed to consider punching her for that transgression. I abstained from violence, because she spoke in street lingo from time to time, a sure sign she could take me in a fight.Catwoman enjoys the buffet.There was also an art gallery, and by art I mean the unfortunate product that results from somebody with artistic potential dedicating his or her life to drawing fairies and barbarians. While there were a few interesting pieces of art, the majority of the imagery featured in this Special Ed Guggenheim was along the lines of "I sure like to draw naked women riding on dragons a lot." Sadly, apparently amateurish Poser 3d renders now qualify as art, one more way talent and vision are being eaten alive by the Venus flytrap of human laziness. In this backwards world, even furry artwork is given fair treatment. A more fitting place to display such art would be at the bottom of the many urinals generously populating the men's restrooms of the hotel ecosystem. You could bid on many of the pieces of art on display, but these "artists" wanted money. I was more than willing to bid ample amounts of swearwords, but I refrained and remained a passive hater. It's all I could do as an unbiased observer.
While wandering around, we overheard the shocking news that Luke Perry had canceled his visit to Dragoncon. Those painful words that drifted into my ears like a harsh winter breeze placed a heavy burden on my soul. Marie trembled, and looked as though she had just given birth to a dinosaur with severe heart problems. I can't tell you what it was like; suffice to say a part of me died a violent death and will never be resurrected. In our combined trauma, we somehow ended up trapped in a large, crowded room where people from a "Lord of the Rings" site were putting on a PowerPoint presentation analyzing every single frame from the Quicktime trailer to "Return of the King." By frame 00:01:34:12 we had had enough, and snuck out of the room and decided to dump our plunder away safely and then acquire food. Getting food with me is a painful process that largely consists of me saying, "whatever is fine" followed by "nah" when any sort of food is suggested. If I were to come up with a snappy title to our quest for sustenance, it would be "Procrastination Brings Grief: A Fable About Picking A Goddamn Place to Eat Already." After a botched attempt to get pizza, we ended up at a restaurant attached to the Hyatt like a benign tumor. I say benign because I think the entire staff was dead, save for a few waiters desperately trying to provide the illusion that everything was fine by running back and fourth and making false promises to bring us the food that we requested. I made a joke about the chef eating all the food, a jab that was aided by the brief sighting of a fat chef, but somehow that did not cause things to go any faster. There was a buffet, and it provided me amusement. For the first time in my life I was able to truthfully say, "There's a barbarian at the buffet!" There was, and he was raiding the buffet in grand fashion. He had the right idea, the buffet was unguarded and he didn't have to wait two hours like we did. Such a cunning savage, there was a lesson to be learned from him.Wolverine, quite possibly a little too excited.When Marie and I managed to escape that doomed buffet on the last lifeboat it was fairly late in the evening. We entered the main hall of the Hyatt, which was now apparently the crossroads of a dozen universes. The tiny nerd inside my soul was aghast as Wolverine chatted it up with Batman and members of the terrorist organization known the world over as Cobra. I pretended everything was okay and carried on like a trooper, though my soul was now in turmoil. The crowd was swarming thoughtlessly, but one particularly apt hotel employee managed to get his message across by clearing out a "Circle of Doom" in the center to allow for better picture opportunities. Marie pointed out his usage of nerd language is all that controlled the crowd. Truly, this hotel employee was the real superhero. What followed was an hour of camera flashes bouncing off of shiny spandex and plastic costumes in a really, really crowded room. I don't know who plans these things, but there were at least a half dozen Batman's, and that's a bunch of crap in my book. I can understand 100 Imperial Stormtroopers and even fifty obese Klingons, but no one needs Batman in that sort of ridiculous volume. Most of the Batman costumes were pretty nicely made, but I'm sure it was embarrassing for them to have to share the spotlight. At least I would like to, because I think that would make for some funny and awkward conversations amongst all of them.Wait, you didn't tell me you were going as Batman! Well one of us is going to have to change and it's not me!After awhile, we could no longer tolerate the concentrated insanity of a room packed with countless people dressed as science fiction characters and decided to call it a night. At this point we had pretty much managed to miss every major event scheduled for Saturday, such as the parade and costume contest, not to mention the Dawn look-alike contest and Klingon beauty pageant. How disappointing missing that last one was. We also managed to miss pretty much anybody famous. I was so psyched about seeing Marc Singer, too. The day turned out to be a ton of fun, though. My first science fiction and fantasy convention was entirely too enjoyable, which scared me since I was here to hate and not have fun.
I will wrap up this crazy weekend in the next exciting edition of the dreaded Wednesday update. Mark your calendars, because next Wednesday is just a week away! What's coming up? My near death experience at the hands of a famous writer, a paneled discussion on why you should shoot yourself in the face, and a brief encounter with one of Atlanta's finest law enforcement officers! And of course, more people in costumes!
What Kind of Name Is "Flip" Anyway
Hey fellow NESkateers, Taylor "Rising Tackle" Bell here with part two (2) of my 2 (two) part article on NES games that did not suck! The lineup today includes a game about throwing candy at various animals, a game about guiding a giant walking gumball through a trap-filled maze, and a game about good ol' Scrooge McDuck.
Little Nemo, which broke new ground by being set in the year 1905 and not 20XX, was about a kid who is visited in the middle of the night by some weird pointy-hatted fairy who invites him to “Slumberland” and very non-suggestively tells him that “the princess has selected you as her playmate!” Our quick-thinking hero’s mind rapidly assembles all the pieces of this mysterious puzzle before he announces his conclusion: “If she’s a princess, then she must be a girl!” Taken aback by this young man’s quick and cunning mind, the fairy replies with “She’s not just any girl, she’s a princess!” Refusing to be swayed, Nemo takes point, set and match in the argument by boldly announcing “I bet she’s still a girl!”
"Really, Holmes!" I dropped into my seat, shocked. "You are remarkably tall! What are you, six foot six? Six foot eight?"
As the 19th century diver approaches a giant clam, a flash of brilliant golden light flares from within the shell. I emerge in a swirl of bubbles and do the timeless universal underwater hand signals for the following: ZODIAC KILLER, KKK, BLOOD OF YOUTH
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.