DragonCon 2018

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Hello again DragonCon! And as long as it took to get here, p00f!  It’s gone.  Anyway, here’s the tales.

There was this guy – a really nice PacMan costume with a ghost attached to a spring so that he’s “chasing” him.  Complete with sound effects.  This was my first year at DragonCon without a focused effort on taking photos of the many costumes.  I appreciated them as I passed by, but I’m not sure if I missed the full-on effort.



How to Write a Story in an Hour

This session is offered each year, but I usually opt for a celebrity panel at the same time when the crowds are fewer.  My wife attended this last year, and greatly enjoyed it.   It’s hosted by a novelist and editor with a humorous approach to a “no-nonsense” task of moving a crowd to generate ideas and movement while focusing on essential story elements.  Essentially, she gets the audience to define a character, a setting, an antagonist, etc.   But first, it has to start with a captivating sentence to start the story.  Several decent ones were offered, but for the character, we landed on a vegan dragon chef, which was soon modified to a dragon chef who eats vegans.  The silliness of the proposition entertained those trying to one-up others, but the session was dead at the start.  There was learning in the questions she asked the crowd in order to develop and refine ideas, but it wasn’t sustainable after the initial democratic vote.  We left early.  Maybe next year.


The Coming of the Five Horsemen of the Future Global Apocalypse:

Affiliated with the gaming track, this panel included a professor and several former military personnel to talk about the most troublesome areas of global conflict.  The tie-in was that they’re involved in the National Security Decision Making game, played at academia, gaming conventions, etc.  It was interesting to hear short narratives about the situations in various countries such as Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, from people who spend a lot of time understanding stress factors such as religion, food and water scarcity, environmental damage, economics, etc.  And, darned if I can hardly remember anything specifically about it.  Other than, if oil prices drop, Russia and Arab states get in a real hurt very fast.  Below is a slide – maybe one of a couple hundred that the speaker chose to speak to.  The problem was that he spoke to the slide, not the audience.  Public Speaking 101!  Come on!


And from there, it’s off to lunch.  Where we saw this guy dressed as Newt from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Includes little creatures, short pants… very well done.


Star Trek:
The series that started my fascination with sci-fi… and I  haven’t really attended that many related panels.  In any case, here we have Ensign Kim (moderating and participating) from Voyager, Chekov from the original series, Q from The Next Generation, and Felix from Deep Space Nine.  It was interesting attending a panel with participants in completely different shows, but it worked well.  We heard about Walter Koenig being a fan-boy when he stood behind Marlon Brando in line at a sandwich counter and other assorted details.  John de Lancie (Q) pointed out he only appeared in nine episodes… talking about making an impact. Good humor abounded, as these panels usually do. 


In the lobby, we catch up with assorted DC comic characters… why  not snap a picture?


What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

Good question, and it’s off to the Science track we go for answers, with panelists working in space, biology, energy, etc.   So, our current threats include:

1) Satellites being destroyed intentionally or accidentally, as debris travels at roughly 8 km/s, delivering the force of two sticks of dynamite on satellites  enclosed by sheet metal.  It’s called the Kessler Syndrome, linked with a good video.  Think about the loss of GPS, and understand that sailors haven’t been taught to navigate by the stars for 20 years or so.  Supply chain shut down, communications shut down… pretty bad day for humanity.

2) Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing:  You can print guns, but should you?  Countries with little to lose can print rocket boosters for their missiles, etc.  Technology vs. morality.  Oh, and we can conceivably print a virus.

3) CRISPR – gene editing.  Again, technology vs. morality.  Human gene editing, etc.  We could change mosquitos to where they can’t reproduce.  Sounds good.  Oh, but what impact does that have for the food chain?

4) Energy – the advance of alternative fuels is lagging behind our needs for energy.  On the other hand, though offered as a negative, Georgia could be powered by 35 square miles of solar panels.  That’s not so bad.  Interesting point was made that panels are rated at what they can do essentially with the sun directly above them, but based on the time of day, latitude, clouds, and inefficient energy storage and transmission, and the actual energy they generate for the day is much less than the “ratings” provided.

5) Fake news – if you can’t find objective reporting, then how can people fairly judge and participate in society?


Story Drawing for Comics:

And now to the Comics track, where a Savannah College of Arts and Design professor talks comic books.  This was interesting after the panel was over, basically.  He went through two different comics, essentially narrating how he suggests action, captures key plot elements, alters facial expressions… it was okay.  And then afterwards he talked about students finding roles in industry.  Here’s a tip, students.  Even if you’re good at what you do, you have to follow instructions and do your work on time.  Employers call professors like this to make sure they’re making a good hire.  Hopefully you’re talented and motivated.



Arrowverse Cast:

Less Arrow, and more Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.  In any case, this was an entertaining panel, another where the personalities of characters pretty closely align with the actors that portray them.  Tom Cavanagh, who plays Harry Wells on Flash, was the most intriguing, I suppose.  One audience person mentioned they missed HR – a Harry Wells from a parallel world, and he was on top of it, pointing out that the character was an idiot.  I’ve said the same thing about Barry Allen many, many times, the titular hero.


Gina Torres:

This is Zoe Washburne on Firefly, one of my favorite shows, though it only lasted a single season.  She wasn’t my favorite character, but like all the other actors who have appeared at DragonCon, she’s got great style and substance, and it was great to hear more about her life and work.


And, while standing in line for the next panel… there was this pixelated Predator guy.  Actually, it was a very good costume for another reason.  It’s basically 2D, strapped to a guy on one side, so he wasn’t sweating to death like the many others wearing costumes.


Stranger Things:

This was the only line that we stood in for quite a while, to see two teenagers on a Netflix show.  Glad we did.  Overcoming adversity, stage experience, multi-talents… This show did a really, really good job of casting.  They may be new to the average viewer, but they don’t lack experience.  And good humor, like Caleb speaking to his least favorite store in the mall… Victoria’s Secret.  Too awkward!


Meet America’s Psychic-Fraud Crimefighter:

And to the Skeptic track – despisers, really, of anything that smacks of the supernatural, like religion, ghost hunting, magic and… psychics.  The gentleman to the left is a magician (who freely confesses what he does isn’t magic), and the guy on the right is a retired NY police officer who happened into a psychic who swindled someone for a lot of money.

This was really interesting in a number of ways.  1) Psychics earn ~$350k per year, they think.  2) It’s a family of sorts – the tools of the trade are handed down from one generation to another, and there is a cooperative spirit when needed.  3) People seek psychics frequently from personal trials – cancer, death in the family, cheating spouse, etc.  and the psychic is there to help – to tell them good things for $5 or $10, and then nuance out of the person one thing that troubles them.  Get their name, do some research, offer to help dispel spirits (etc.) for increasing sums, and… well, June Deveraux was taken for $17M.  The point was that these are professionals who play on people’s weaknesses to extract money.  It’s worth exposing as a fraud, for sure, and the officer has had some success getting prosecutors to do their jobs, even though the victims handed the psychics money “from their own free will.”  Here’s an article, because I know  you’re curious.



The Expanse:

Good TV series, great books.  This was the panel that I was most looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint.  It was heavily moderated by intent to emphasize “diversity” in casting and the strength of the women on the show.  I’ll admit I hadn’t thought about it from that context but don’t disagree at all.  However, it would have been nice to have had more Q&A from the audience. 

The series was recently acquired by Amazon for future series, which apparently included obligatory videos of key moments involving each of the actors present.   These were a bit too lengthy, and from what I overheard while the clips were playing, everyone would have loved hearing more of what they were saying about the scenes as they unfolded. 

The highlight was the lady who plays Avasarala launching, when the two “Martian” characters were discussing why their civilization was the best,  on how the Martians accomplished nothing, Earth had explored the solar system, yada yada… all an impromptu rant while in full-on character for her role.   Maybe it’ll make its way to YouTube.  It’s worthy.  Great chemistry among the staff, and much yet to look forward to outside of the confines of broadcast TV.



We had a little time between panels, so went into the gaming area.  I don’t know what they’re playing, but it was an attraction for some very serious gamers.  How long does it take to get a turn?


And, on the streets, we have Xerxes, from The 300.



Next was Killjoys, a Syfy show with one season remaining, which is two episodes away from concluding filming.   It would have been nice to have seen a larger cast.  While the main actor who plays John Jacobis was very appreciative of the attention, you could tell that he’s had fun… and the gig is up.  He’s moving on.  This was an entertaining show that could have used some better clarity in the plot as it unfolded, but I’m glad to see that they can plan its finale. 


In sum, I guess a question might be, are all actors (that come to conventions) so likable?  Or are they acting?

And, finally, got this photo of Junkrat from Overwatch at the end.  Well constructed, lit, a mine for a foot, pose… perfect!


DragonCon 2018 is a wrap! But 2019 is already paid for.

1 comment :

  1. We flew home to book this venue in June last year. Absolutely loved it here and I'll be certainly waiting to go back there for more events. Regardless of the time of your event, you always get the same thing at Los Angeles event venues: reasonable drink prices, great decoration, & friendly staff.