DragonCon 2016–Day 1

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DragonCon is an exhausting three to four day convention, based on how much one participates.  In hindsight, it’s also amazingly brief.  This year was rumored to have 70,000 guests, which is about 25,000 too many.  Yet, everyone somehow gets along.

My intent for Friday was to hit the celebrity panels that I was most interested in, thus avoiding the longer lines later in the weekend.  First up was:

Daredevil: The Man in the Mask – This would be Charlie Cox, the actor who plays Daredevil on the Netflix series, now with two seasons completed.   I sometimes wonder about actors and fan panels, which seem to be a unique opportunity for those cast in science fiction/fantasy/geek roles.  Cox seemed to enjoy himself, and if he was not used to panels like this, it would only be evidenced by his lengthy, well thought out response to each question.  Nuggets included insight behind the (many) fight scenes, when he admitted that he only knew the names of two martial art styles.  He has a coach, and they choreograph the sequence in 6-10 moves a time, film it, stop shooting, choreograph the next sequence, etc. It must take forever.  Daredevil Season 3 seems to be a certainty, but it will follow a Defenders miniseries featuring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, the latter two are also to receive their own named series.  And lastly, his recounting of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin/Carlton Fisk, Daredevil’s arch-nemesis, was full of respect.  Season two included a scene where Daredevil/Matthew Murdock confronted Fisk in jail, each actor having a lengthy monologue.  Cox didn’t care to guess how D’Onofrio “gets into” his role, but recalled him telling the director “Keep filming.  You’ll get what you need.”  In the meanwhile, he would say his lines, step away, gather himself and return and so forth.  Cox, having explained that D’Onofrio was also a very nice guy:  “He was brilliant and terrifying.”

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The Backstabbiest, Backstabbing Board games – We’ve taken an interest in “table top” board games, and we dropped in the end of this panel.  It was full of people who have played a lot of games, and I’m not certain if more were there to learn of other games or insist that their personal favorite was the best for this category.   In any case, 18xx Railroad and Wiz War seem to be in our future.  Trust me.

The Power of Line & Symbol: The Art of Sigil Magick – Okay, I could blame this one on my interest, but it was my “find.”  I’ve enjoyed a variety of art related panels, and, hey, how often are presentations made by a practicing witch?  After a brief review of symbols, colors, and numbers in history – pagans, Berbers in Africa, ancient Egyptians, etc. - she generally spoke less about mysticism and more about how symbols represent keeping things safe, going places, and other fairly reasonable interpretations of basic shapes and squiggly lines.  These are featured prominently in her art as well as tattoos.  In any case, here she is pointing at some of the symbols, at some point emphasizing that these are more about the artists intent rather than what others make of them.  To conclude the session she took an audience poll about DragonCon likes/concerns and used a flip chart to interpret these in terms of specific symbols she had introduced making, essentially, a DragonCon sigil.  I’ll leave it to others to fathom whether burning the paper would release that energy to any productive use.  I was more intrigued about her practical application of making a sigil to ward against people stealing my office chair. 

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The last bit on the list is “No con crud” – avoiding germs after amassing with thousands upon thousands of strangers in confined areas...

The Year in Science panel was a disappointment compared with last year, perhaps due to less “big” news. Subjects included:

  • Gravitational waves and how they were detected
  • Evidence of a planet larger than Jupiter joking termed “Planet 9 From Outer Space” whose existence seems proven but not yet found
  • Price gouging from the Epipen to the cat virus cure
  • A failed “all purpose” drug test that had $5B in startup funds, was launched at Walgreens pharmacy, didn’t work, and is now worth… $0.
  • A planet that is likely Earthlike only four light years away, with 1.3x the mass of earth (it’s in Proximus Centauri if you want to drop by for a look)
  • And… a galaxy, Dragonfly 44, 1/10th of a percent luminous, essentially 99.99% dark matter

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Dark Matter cast panel – I don’t really recall anything was said, but it was an entertaining panel, mostly remarkable in that Melissa O’Neil, who plays a generally frowning, static, tightly wound leader of ex-rogues on a space ship, apparently plays opposite to her nature.  Enjoyable, but obviously forgettable...  That’s okay.  You just hope for some humor and cast camaraderie for these things.

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There was also a demonstration of how close they had to stand to get camera angles correct at times:

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Finally, we went to the Magic vs Mayhem session, which included one magicians working the “never met anonymous audience person” to set up his tricks, one “watch me do strange things to my body” performer, and one charlatan.  The charlatan won, handily, though the nailing a hammer in the nose demo was noteworthy.

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And, for the heck of it, here’s a Sharknado victim and one of my daughter’s former high school friends, wearing cats eyes:

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