A First-Timer’s View of Dragon*Con: Part II

Posted September 14, 2009

The Con Eventscostumes

Not exactly an event (although part of one — more on that below), but certainly a major reason many attend Dragon*Con, is the opportunity to see and/or be seen (in costume). On the first official night, I roamed around the Marriott with a few fellow skeptics, checking out costumes. Many of us were a little sleep-deprived and, as I stated in my last post, I was certainly among the most wide-eyed of the wanders. Still, it was obvious that a little posing was in order and Brian Dunning of Skeptoid was kind enough to oblige.

Below: Kylie Sturgess, Richard Saunders, & Rachael Dunlop get photos of Brian Dunning as I shoot them shooting Brian. Above: One of Kylie's shots

Below: Kylie Sturgess, Richard Saunders, & Rachael Dunlop shoot Brian Dunning as I shoot them shooting him. Above: One of Kylie’s shots

Throughout the convention, costumes were everywhere. There were some amazing Muppets (my favorites: Dr. Honeydew, Beaker, & the Swedish Chef), hordes of Indiana Joneses, Storm Troopers, Spartans, BSG recruits, and many characters I will never recognize.

Those who chose to sacrifice an additional fee and a couple of hours in lines were given the privilege of meeting the “big guns” in science fiction entertainment, namely William Shatner and Leonard Nemoy. I was not one of those people. The closest I got to these greats was a glimpse of them from across the room where the skeptic organizations’ tables were set up. Well, that, and a voice (Nemoy’s) in the hall outside my room one night.

Part of the parade; photo by Heidi Anderson

Part of the parade; photo by Heidi Anderson

I must admit that I do not really understand the draw of celebrity. Living in the Los Angeles area, it is difficult to avoid them, but to me they are just people. If one is particularly familiar or if I happen to like their work a lot, I get a thrill from the “spotting”. If I admire them for what they have done or said as themselves (rather than a character they play), I sometimes wish I had some personal connection so that I could get to know them better. However, I do not understand standing in line to shake their hand, get an autograph, or take a picture with them. The most you will see me do is approach an author to get a book signed or ask a question. That said, I certainly see nothing wrong with it and I would be flattered if I were the one people waited in line to meet.

The convention offers many panel discussions with casts of shows such as Stargate and Battlestar Galactica, readings by authors, live shows, a banquet, workshops, and even wrestling! Attendees can also participate in karaoke, dance parties, tournament gaming, and the Con’s biggest event, the costume parade.

George Hrab provides the background for a reading of his Tweets

George Hrab provides the background for a reading of his Tweets

But, my reason for being there was the set of fan tracks. There were talks and panels about everything from the physics of Star Wars to the use of bacteria in treating disease to skepticism in fictional writing to psychic detectives. These were delivered to mostly standing room only audiences and some were streamed live on the internet. I posted an entry while at the convention which was inspired by one of these events. I will discuss a few of the others I attended (and those in which I participated) in more detail in another post, but I must say here that George Hrab’s show was a highlight. Richard Saunders and Jeff Wagg read several of George’s recent Tweets. Neither compares to the poetry delivery of William Shatner, mind you, but they were not half bad!

And this year the big event was the successful attempt at a world’s record: the most people dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller at one time. The final count: 903. Look for the Flying Spaghetti Monster at around 3 minutes in!

What a weekend!


Of course I have to shop at these things and with 3 sci fi nuts at home, I would not be allowed in the door without something cool or interesting. By far my favorite find was the T-shirt at the NCSE (National Center for Science Education) booth, which was mostly manned by Dr. Eugenie Scott herself.

NCSE T-Shirt

NCSE T-Shirt

I purchased one for each of my boys and husband, who loved them, too.dragonShop

I also picked up a couple of interesting dragons for my kids. They glow in the dark and have a wire that allows you to wrap them around things (like your arm). i found these at the tables and booths set up in the Marriott. There were game shops, costume shops, an entire row with bin after bin of specialty dice, t-shirts, patches, and, of course, memorabilia.

I could not resist the simple fur balls since I grew up with Star Trek and my boys are now watching the original series (and love it). I collect small animals and try to get one from each location I visit, so I was thrilled to find a brass-ish pigasus at one of the dealers. At the Dragon*Con store, I picked up another T-shirt for my husband and a Dragon*Con Christmas ornament (another thing I collect when we travel).
The Skeptic’s Society, whose table I helped to man during some of my down time, sold books (mostly Michael Shermer’s), DVDs, and issues of Skeptic Magazine. The next table over housed merchandise and SWAG from the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe and JREF.

Overall, I have to give it 10 thumbs up! Well, that’s what my kids would say.


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