Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dragon*Con 2011, Day 1

I'm going to do a quick overview day-by-day of all my Dragon*Con highlights, the better to enable your geeky vicarious living. Deal? Deal.

So, let's get to it!

We arrived Thursday evening to meet up with my parents and pick up our badges. I mention this because you may remember the badge debacle from last year; some people waited over 6 hours last year to get the pre-reg badges they'd already paid for. D*C assured everyone that the system had been improved this year, but we waited to get our badges at the door regardless - just in case.

As it turned out, a few days beforehand the head of media relations at D*C, a wonderful guy named Dan, contacted us and offered John and me media passes. Woot! We still waited in line with my parents for theirs, though, and the cash line took 15 minutes, tops. I'm glad we didn't pre-register! From Twitter I learned that the average wait time for pre-registered attendees ranged from under an hour to about three hours - an improvement over last year, to be sure, but still nothing to rival the cash-at-the-door line. (I hear the trouble was the new system crashing and the printers breaking down from time to time, causing back-ups.)

Now, on to the actual con!

Our first day, Friday, we all dressed to the steampunky nines. My parents looked pretty fabulous, too, if I do say so myself:

In fact, more people wanted their picture than ours - but I couldn't be more proud. One person even thought my Dad was the instructor at a steampunk panel. Rock on, Dad!

We started the afternoon with a rather tedious steampunk panel, and then split from my folks to go see David Nykl. Nykl played Dr. Radek Zelenka on Stargate: Atlantis, and since we'd never seen him in person we had no idea what to expect.

I'm happy to report that Nykl is amazingly, astoundingly entertaining, and the hour simply flew by. For his entrance he burst through the door, came most of the way down the center aisle shaking hands all 'round, and then literally jumped onto the front table so we could all see him. The moderator begged him to come down for safety reasons, though, so instead he stood on a chair - later sitting precariously on the chair back - a wonderful consideration for us shorties in the audience.

He also looks a lot like Greg Kinnear with his hair like that. (Right? Just me?)

My favorite factoid from the panel:

The SGA scripts would often include a note for Zelenka that read simply "cursing in Czech." Now, Nykl actually is Czechoslovakian, so he usually really would curse ("cover your children's ears!") - but one time, on a dare, he instead said, "I can't work with these actors anymore!" - and it's in the episode. (Sadly, he couldn't remember which one.) LOVE.

[Update: Here's the episode. Thanks, Courtney!]

Moving on, we went to a delightful panel with Kate Mulgrew, Garret Wang, and Robert Duncan McNeil from Voyager. John and I have recently been watching Voyager from the beginning, and he's become quite enamored with Mulgrew. Fortunately, she did not disappoint. Funny, charming, poised - really, they all were, and the camaraderie was wonderful between the three of them. (Garret's nasally impression of Kate is hysterical, too. "There's coffee in that nebula!")

Directly after that was a TNG panel with Brent Spiner and Gates McFadden. I'd thought Wil Wheaton was supposed to be there, too, but for some reason he wasn't, which was a shame. Still, a good time was had by all.

Throughout the day I was tweeting hints, and we had quite a few fans find us for their prizes. I'll never get tired of a stranger shyly approaching and saying, "Jen? Are you Jen?" The funny part is that most of you didn't really know what I look like, but you *do* know John, so he was the give away. In fact, one girl ran up to a woman John was standing next to in the crowd and cried, "Are you Jen Yates?!" Ha!

My first surprise of Dragon*Con actually came on Thursday night, when Paul of Paul and Storm tweeted that I - I! - was the one celebrity at D*C he most wanted to meet. Paul and Storm are a comedy music duo most famous for their appearances at Wootstock, the geek-fest headed up by Wil Wheaton, Jonathon Coulton, Adam Savage, and various other nerderati. I've only ever seen these people on Youtube, so I was pretty psyched to learn Paul even knew who I was, much less wanted to meet me. We spent the weekend trying to connect - much harder than you'd expect, as large as D*C is. More on that in my Sunday recap.

And now, the part you've all really been waiting for: COSTUMES!!

I'm going to be putting almost everything on my Flickr account later, but for now here are some of my favorites from Friday: (I didn't have time to enlarge them all, so just click to enbiggin'.)

Flasher C3PO. I had better shots, but that guy's expression in the background is priceless.

Adorable pink Dalek girl.

The best Alice & Queen I saw all weekend - and there were a bunch! (Alice is from the American McGee game, but I'm not sure about the Queen.)

Here's a blast from the past:

Do you recognize it, fellow children of the 80's?


Ok, I'll tell you:

It's a Land Strider from The Dark Crystal! The face was attached to the crown of the cosplayer's head, so she had to look straight down for the full effect.

We saw lots of Portal cosplay, which I loved:

I rushed up to this girl and excitedly asked if that was the Wheatley puppet - but it's not! So that means there were at least *two* amazing Wheatley replicas at D*C this year. (I later found the gal with the puppet, but she was always surrounded so I never got to talk to her! I have pics, though - stay tuned for those.)

Speaking of doppelgangers, couldn't you swear this was Tilda Swinton as the White Witch?

I loved that she stayed in character, too, always dropping the smile just in time for the camera.

Some excellent Venture Brothers cosplay:

I still need to watch more of that show - our friends even got us the whole first season on DVD, so I have no excuse. (Also, these two look familiar. Did I post a pic of them from MegaCon?)

A collection of cuteness:

That reminds me: in the food court a Strawberry Shortcake went by - a different one - and she smelled like strawberries! The smell wafted after her - such a great costume touch.

Steampunk wings!

I later spotted these in the Vendor room, which was kind of disappointing - but they still look frickin' awesome, even if they are mass-produced.

I spotted at least half a dozen TARDIS dresses at the con, but this was the only guy I saw as the iconic blue police box:

Love the top hat.

No idea what this is from, but WOW:

Check out the giant flowers on her skirt! Gorgeous.

[Edit: I'm told this is the Red Queen, and the flowers are roses from her garden. Thx, commenters!]

Now, Friday is the light day for costumes, so expect much, MUCH more for the next two posts. Also watch my Flickr account, where I'll be uploading almost everything for your browsing pleasure. (I took over one thousand pictures this weekend, so there's no WAY I'm getting all those here on Epbot!) In fact, I've already got most of Friday's pics up, so you can see more over there already.

Now off to work on the next batch. Stay tuned!


  1. the girl who played Alice lost her camera. I'm in a LJ group with her so I gave her the link. Hopefully she'll meander over here. It made me so excited to be like OMG someone I kinda almost know.

  2. Wow, I only had to wait about 3 minutes in the pre-reg line once I got to the front, though it took at least ten minutes to go through all the damn ropes (I am so not exaggerating).

    Want more evidence to how cool David Nykl is? I have a friend who is a HUGE Zelenka fan, and her birthday is Friday, so I asked him if he'd say happy birthday to her if I called her, and he did! (So did four other people, and Eddie McClintock actually sang to her. She did pretty well.)

    The stepsisters and Galinda (who everyone thought was Cinderella) in your Flickr are friends of mine! Nina, Sabrina, and Jen.

  3. Jealous! Oddly, you were at the same panels as my brother. Alas I have too many children to make it to Atlanta while he is footloose and fancy free.

  4. OMG, I am so freaking jealous. BTW, Wil Wheaton was signing autographs at DragonCon. Even better, he was signing copies of the pictures of him collating paper that he had taken for The Bloggess.

  5. Last year I asked my daughter what she wanted to be for Halloween and she said, "Alice". My response was "Okay... we'll get you a blue dress and some black shoes... " She interrupted and said, "No mom. Not THAT Alice. The Alice in armor. With a vorpal blade. To slay the jabberwocky." And so... that's what we did! I thought about taking her to Comic Con for a day in her costume, but it just didn't happen. All of my photos turned out fuzzy... but I do have one in my flickr account... you can check it out if you'd like :)

    Tell me what you think!!

  6. Melissa, I think that's freakin' awesome!! What did you make the armor plating out of? It looks fantastic!

  7. The Land Strider costume is so great! I was so excited to see it (and yes, I knew what it was)! I always though going as the Chamberlain would be tons of fun, but I am certainly no costume designer that could put something like that together.

    Your parents ROCK! My parents are the same way. We go to the Renaissance Festival every year and my parents dress up as much as we do. My dad is full Croatian, so he had an historically accurate Croatian costume made. It is so cool. They also do cowboy action shooting, where you shoot live ammo at targets for speed and accuracy, and you have to dress in period clothing. My parents are constantly getting awards for their costumes!

  8. The red dress costume is the Red Queen. The flowers are the roses from her garden. She was in the costume contest and they explain the details of the costume when the contestant comes on stage. That's the only reason I know! LOL

  9. This post and the pictures WONDERFUL, which only reinforces how sad I am. The thing that stuck out like a sore thumb to me was the misuse of the word affect in the sentence "The face was attached to the crown of the cosplayer's head, so she had to look straight down for the full affect."

    I <3 that last costume! Gorgeous!


  10. @rainy5982 - you should tell Alice to check - they reunite owners with cameras &/or memory cards a lot of the time.

  11. Could that possibly be Monarch, the Butterfly King, from the old video game?

  12. Day 1 looks excellent. Love the costumes and am very jealous - SGA and Voyager are two of my favorites!

  13. Great pix, Jen. Too bad the only one of ALL of you was blurry. Or was that on purpose? ;-)

  14. Squee!! Your parents are so cool. I'm glad David Nykl is as awesome as I'd hoped, heehee! I like to vicariously enjoy D*C through your posts--thanks!

  15. The landstrider is my friend Kazz Neal, a.k.a Jaqueline Trade...
    She made your post last year too! Bird on head!!!

    The gal has skillz!

    Thanks for your posts, since I couldn't be there, this is awesome! Vicariously, indeed.

  16. john (the hubby of Jen)September 7, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Lis @ 3:32 am,

    Bwoops. Thanks for the heads up. I didn't get a chance to proofread it before Jen published it.


  17. The Voyager panel sounds was the Star Trek I started with as a teenager, and I had such a crush on Tom Paris. :) Garrett Wong was in Alberta this summer and I think he's hysterical. And Capt Janeway was my absolute HERO. So...very jealous of your panel experience!

    And your parents are SO cool! Are they interested in adopting? :)

  18. Your parents look fantastic. I love those colours.
    I think I've been re-watching Big Bang Theory too much because all I could think of when you mentioned that Wil Wheaton wasn't there when you expected him to be was "WHEATON!"

  19. Awesome! Dragon*Con sounds like a blast. I'm a little bit jealous that your parents went with you..that would never happen with my parents. Of course, if/when I have kids, they will be going to cons with me. ^_^ My fiancee actually proposed to me at Wizard World in Chicago, so I'm sensing a lot of cons in our future! We were talking about maybe heading to D*C next year. Love all the pics!

  20. Zelenks says that in the episode where he's crawling through the A/C unit/thingy (lol) and he's halfway through...the Doors had locked up and he was the only one that fit through the panel... I think it was called Quarantine, but I'm not 100% since Atlantis was always on lockdown, lol

  21. Miss Kitty FantasticoSeptember 7, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    One of these years I'll get to Dragon Con. :-\

    It was fantastic to read about your brushes with Brent and Wil.

    And may I just add a "well hello there" and a "hubba hubba" for the guy dressed as the Tenth Doctor. :)

  22. My mom is Czech, so she understood all of Zelenka's... colorful metaphors on SGA. She said there was no way he would EVER have been able to say what he said in English on TV! Watching those episodes with her was fun - she would laugh, and the rest of us are like ??? :)

    Sounds like it was fun to see him in person. One day...

  23. The guy in the steampunk Tardis costume is my friend Damon Thrift from Minnesota. He and his brother Yancey won Best In Show at CONvergence 2011 for their costumes. His brother's costume was a steampunk Dalek.

  24. Your rents are made of win! Win and joy, and robot unicorns and joyness. I wish my rents were that cool.

  25. Wow your parents looked great! Your dad looks very dapper :-) I love all the purple, my favorite color! Now when are we going to see detailed photos of your costumes?!!!!

  26. Your link for the episode takes us to Cakewrecks...happy accident, or clever trickery? :)

    haha, wv: spheek - I want to hear Nykl spheek


  27. Jen - I made the plating using teardrop shaped confetti that I found at a site called... (wait for it)... :) I hot glued them onto some tulle. One or two of the pieces popped off when she sat down but for the most part it worked and she LOVED it :) I'm glad you liked it. Probably my favorite costume that I've ever made ;)

  28. @ Tabitha - the blur was NOT on purpose - that's just the one and only photo we have of us all together that day. Figures; the one time we find someone to take our pic, it comes out all blurry! Ha!

  29. @ Becky - WHOOPS. Link fixed. Sorry! :D

  30. LOVE the Shortcake girls and I must say: OMG your parents went with and dressed up? HOW COOL of them! You lucky girl.

  31. OH and holy snickerdoodles that red dress is off the hook.

  32. Your parents look amazing, so cool they went with you guys! Hooray for people that actually like to hang out with their parents. In public. :) Loving that last Red Queen, amazing!

  33. Are you going to MegaCon?

  34. Planning to, Lena! I think it gets better every year.

  35. If you know Paul and Storm, I HOPE you know their old group DaVinci's notebook... there is no music in the world more hilarious than theirs!

  36. Your parents look adorable.

    The reg line was long when I got into it, but it only took about an hour to get through, and that was with the computers going down right as they were getting the second badge I was picking up. All in all, not bad, but I did feel kinda hot and icky after standing outside.

    That scented Strawberry Shortcake kinda blew my mind. I almost didn't believe my nose. My brain went right back to my childhood.

    On a Cake Wrecks note, I wore the Carrot Jockey necklace I got from you 2 years ago the whole weekend, and lots of people noticed it. The last day, a voice behind me said, "You have a baby on a carrot." I hadn't the foggiest idea what she was talking about, until I remembered the necklace. She had never heard of Cake Wrecks, so we had a nice convo about it.

    I am glad you had a good time, and I can't wait to see more pics.

  37. Wonderful pictures! I was there and took many pictures, but there were so many fabulous costumes that I missed seeing some of the ones you posted.

  38. I'll take one Tardis and Tenth Doctor for $500 Alex....Those are ALL amazing, some scary. I would LOVE to participate in Dragon*Con one year :D

  39. YAY! two years in a row I make your site? that's fantastic! we should meet for coffee next year! :D I had a whole taxidermed pheasant on my head last year, and this year I was the landstrider. Having a second halloween every year is just too much fun. and here i'd planned to go to so many panels, and ended up costuming the whole time. ^_^ totally worth it! this is a great shot, too! if oyu want you can friend me on facebook under the name Jacqueline Trade. I do mostly pinup girl stuff, but the monster making is my passion. :D THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR A SECOND YEAR ON YOUR LIST! SQUEEEE!

  40. Pretty sure the Red Queen is from The Looking Glass Wars, a series you should look up Jen! :-)

    I saw you in a crosswalk on Saturday and wanted to show you my steampunk librarian outfit! But alas, oncoming traffic...

  41. Oh whoops, and I meant to say... it took us longer to make it through the empty cattle walls then it did to get badges on Thursday. We must have gotten lucky!

  42. The prereg line only took 15 minutes in and out. I think maybe you were hearing about last years lines. Those were the 3-4 hour lines.

  43. @ Anony - I was watching by-the-minute updates on Twitter the whole day as we drove up on Thursday, so I can assure you folks were reporting nearly 3 hour waits during the afternoon. I read there were a few system/printer crashes, which caused the backups. By the time we arrived in the evening the estimates were down to only 30 minutes or less, so it sounds like you caught it at one of the best times!

  44. Children of the 80's my butt!! My 11 yr old recogized the Land Slider before I did. I'm clearing raising a Girly Geek....and I LOVE IT! :)

  45. How cool is this and what a super surprise! David Nykl is a friend of mine and my husband's (they went to high school or university together ages ago). He is SOOO nice in person, his wife is smart and beautiful, and their three kids are terrific.

    I'm so glad you liked him and that he gave good conference (or whatever the term is).

    Jen, I'll make you a deal: if you get to Vancouver, BC on a Cakewrecks tour I will invite you and David to dinner (at the same time of course). And I'll bake cake for dessert. Are you in?

  46. Nicole, I'm sitting next to John right now, and I told him we have to go to Vancouver. :D I'll, uh, let you know how that goes. In the mean time, please tell David the next time you see him that a random geek girl blogger thinks he's awesome.

    Oh, and speaking of random: I just saw a "Keep calm and dial the gate" poster today. How cool is that?

  47. The girl that you were wondering about where you had seen her before, I am almost 89% certain that she's on the "Raise Your Glass" youtube video that you posted about in July...or she's a doppelganger of that person.
    p.s. can't stop watching that video:)

  48. that last picture of the girl in red, that is Redd from the looking glass war series


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