The noise, oh, the noise

 

I have a few days off work this week as I’m having new windows installed in my house. Perfect, I thought, I’ll be able to get some writing done, yay!

Yeah, not so much.

tumblr_mu3rj7guav1qbyrsjo1_400.gif

Bang bang bang. Hammer hammer hammer. Repeat as needed.

As I sit at the little square of open space at my kitchen counter, I realize that I sorely misjudged just how distracting the noise would be.  The installers seemed pretty confident that’ll they get the job done in less time that I’m scheduled for. So hopefully I can still have a day or two for some peaceful writing before going back to the office.

….knew I should have bought that noise-cancelling headphones when I had the chance.

 

Indy PopCon

20160618_141928

This past weekend was the third annual Indy PopCon in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. It was my first time attending this particular con, which is has humble beginnings as a Kickstarter campaign. A true fan convention, there is professional event planning or entertainment business running the event behind the scenes. Still in its infancy, PopCon is a fun event that can only to continue to grow and get better as the years go by.

As I’ve more or less banned myself from going to Wizard World Chicago (oh man, it still pains me to say that), PopCon will be the only “regular” con that I’m attending in 2016. While I was looking forward to not having to contend with a huge crowd, I knew the experience would be different compared to the more prominent cons but I was excited all the same.

20160618_110038

The reason behind most of my excitement was that fact that it was my youngest nephew’s first time going to anything like this.  JA (I’m using since his initials) is 13 and is still figuring out what he likes and doesn’t like. He loves to game (Call of Duty), fish, and he may have a slight addiction to YouTube.  He likes to watch superhero movies with me but at this point he’s not so much into the nitty gritty of background and character development. Which is fine with me, as long as he enjoys it, I’m happy to explain what’s going on and what that means (hell, let’s be honest, geeksplaining is a joy for us). Nevertheless, I thought that PopCon would be something J.A. would have fun at and would broaden his horizons a little.

I decided to only get Saturday passes because while I knew JA would have fun, keeping a 13 year old entertained for an extended amount of time is not always the easiest thing to do. Case in point, as we walked back to the hotel to get the car, he asked how long we ended up being at the con (6 hours); he asked how long I was at the con in Chicago (2.5 days). He then paused, his eyes got big, and he looked a little intimidated at the thought of attending a bigger con with me. He’s got 10 months to work on that, he’ll be ready.

You had an average selection of vendors. There weren’t many comic book sellers as I thought there would be, which I found surprising.  If you’re a Funko collector this was the place to be, I think that every other booth was selling them! I’ve been on the hunt for a Captain America keychain Funko but alas he still evades me. I look forward to seeing the number of vendors grow as PopCon continues to grow.

There were some absolutely amazing cosplays on Saturday. I cannot give enough praise to those dedicated individuals; I am always in awe of their creativity and talent. Cosplay is such an amazing way to pay homage to the things you love while expressing your skill and imagination.  Something new for me this time is that I asked a few for pictures, always making sure to thank them and compliment on how great they looked. JA really enjoyed the cosplays as well, which I didn’t know how he would take, so I was secretly thrilled to hear that.

Another feature of the con was that across the street was the G-Fuel eSports Arena, a 60,000 square foot venue dedicated to gaming. There were multiple tournaments going on all weekend that I was sure JA would enjoy. However, I found this area a bit unorganized. 20160618_134521You could pay $5 for an hour of gameplay but it was very hit or miss on the availability (depending on what you were looking to play on). There was no available schedule to show what was going on, so even if you just watched to watch, it was hard to do that. I got the impression from the website that there would be plenty spectating to do but didn’t find that to be the case (at least for while we were there), which was a bit disappointing. The guys working the venue were super nice but at the end of it all, I thought there was room for improvement if they want to make this a big draw for crowds.

As fun of a time as we had, I did walk away with one regret- not talking to more people. This is something that I’ve been pushing myself to do but am continuing to struggle with. I know it’s not always easy to do in the chaos of a con but there’s also no better arena for it. Sure, I exchanged a few sentences with some of the cosplayers or vendors, but nothing substantial or that would set me apart from the hundreds of other con-goers. You’re not going to make an impression or promote your blog if you can’t sell yourself in the flash of a moment. And that’s exactly what it is, selling yourself, promoting the brand of ‘you’. But I’m not in sales or marketing for a reason. I have to learn to be better at striking up conversations, to be more confident at saying hey here’s my card, let’s be mutuals on Twitter. Acknowledging the shortcomings is one thing, improving on them another. As W.E. Hickson said, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

Beyond the fun had and time spent with my nephew, the greatest thing to come from this weekend is that JA found a new thing that he enjoys. Conventions are amazing things, but seeing someone experience it for the first is even better.

Did you attend PopCon? Or do you have a story about introducing someone to cons? If so, let me know in the comments, I’d love hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

A Crash Course in Conventions

In this day and age, holding the mantle of geek or nerd is worn with a badge of pride; this subsect of pop culture is also rising in prominence. “The geek shall inherit the Earth,” and people are finally starting to realize that. We are a force to be reckoned with. One of the most notorious and amazing things to come from geekdom is the convention. While cons have been around for a long time, their popularity is at an all-time high and the number of organized cons is growing with each year.

Found year -round, there are comic conventions held annually in most states, there are traveling ones organized by well-known event planning companies, and there are fan conventions for specific shows. The choices are numerous and the appeal of attending one is huge, especially if there is an actor or actress you’d really love to see or you’re looking to connect with other fans and geeks. But if you’ve never been or don’t know anyone who has, it can be a daunting decision to make. It can be scary not knowing what to expect when you finally get there.

I’ve been there and I know what that is like. So, if you’re interested, I’d like to help.

I’m no expert in this subject. But as someone who  went to their first con alone with no idea what to expect, I know what’s it like being completely green. I’m going to go the whole nine yards here, people. Are you ready?

If you’ve already been to a con, this post really isn’t for you. Sorry. You know what it’s like to attend and what’s involved. If you have anything to add though, something that I’ve missed, please add them in the comments, I’d love to hear your advice or about your experience.

TO ATTEND, OR NOT TO ATTEND

I know, I know, duh, of course this is where you start. But it can also be the most critical part of your experience as it decides more than just your going to the con. One of the first things to consider is what do you want to attend for. Do you want to see a specific actor? Do you want to cosplay and interact with other people? Are you going for goodies and collectibles? Or do you want the whole experience? The reason this is crucial is because it will go a long way in determining how much you will need to spend to attend.

Another thing to consider is where the con is located. If you have to travel, make sure you will comfortable traveling to and around the location, regardless of it’s a city you’ve been to a hundred times or if it’s your first time there. I passed up a con earlier this year just because I wasn’t 100% sure about the location (both the city itself and the location within the city of the convention center), meaning that I wouldn’t have felt safe walking around by myself. Keep in mind that Chicago is like a third home to me, so I know how to navigate and take care of myself in a big city and I’ve never not felt safe there. I know that everyone has different comfort levels but this is an easy aspect to overlook. This is a bigger issue if you travel alone, but the same principle applies if you go in a group as well. Safety first, kids.

GET OUT THOSE DOLLAR BILLS

Attending a con can be expensive for two main reasons: ticket level and travel costs.

If you’re like me, travel and lodging are huge factors as I have to drive or fly to go to any cons, so unless I’m just going for the day (which is highly unlikely) I have to book a hotel for the duration. Obviously if you room with friends or know someone you can stay with in the area that is going to help you cut costs. If you do book a room, make sure to book it through the con site (if available); many conventions have partnerships with the surrounding hotels where you can get a discounted rate. Every penny helps!

The other reason is deciding what ticket to go with, if there is more than one option. Some cons only have general admission; others general admission and VIP, and then a few have tiered ticket levels. General admission will get you in for relatively cheap; if your main goal is to cosplay, shop, or just be in the mix of things, this is probably the best and cheapest way to go. You can also catch panels with these tickets, but keep in mind that with GA you will have to wait in line (especially for popular panels) and seating is not guaranteed.

VIP tickets often get you some swag, early access, and depending on the con, it can get you some perks. Those perks can range from guaranteed seating panels or even autographs and photo ops. Every con is different so be sure read get the details. Never assume that something is included but always be sure of what is. The couple sitting next to my sister and I didn’t realize that certain autographs were included in the gold tickets at the Salute to Supernatural convention we were at; they missed out on a few from the previous day and had to scramble to get something to have signed once we told them they were missing out. But you also don’t want to buy a VIP ticket and realize at the con that autographs or ops are separate and not included; depending on the event or person they are with, they could be sold out by the time of the con.

In preparing for the con, you also want to make sure to bring money to cover other expenses such as parking, food, and vendors. Something I tend to do once I buy my ticket and book my hotel is estimate how much I’ll need to cover everything else. I then divide that by how much time is between then and con. I set aside that amount in cash and that is what I take with me to the con. It helps me from overspending and it is also never certain if a vendor will take credit. I always have a backup card that is available to use for that ‘can’t do without’ big ticket item that I inevitably find.

Of course the goal of attending a con is to get the best experience possible, but as hard as it can be to do, remember to be responsible about it. Don’t push your finances to the limit and put yourself in a cash strapped situation once you return to the normal world. I struggle with this myself; I want to go to every con within a 300 mile radius but unfortunately my bank account begs to differ.

PLAN, DOUBLE CHECK, PLAN SOME MORE

I love to make lists and I love to plan things out to the last detail. And planning for a con takes it to a whole new level, and I love it! It starts out basic at first and as you get closer to the weekend of the con, schedules will be released and more details can be hashed out. How I do it is by no means the only or best way. It’s all about finding a method that works best for you. Regardless of what or how that is, make sure you are prepared.

One of the first things you can do is get to know your surroundings. Know where the convention center is at and try to get to know the layout of the con itself. Know where the parking or your hotel is in relation and how to get from one to the other. Are there any restaurants in close proximity that you can go to for lunch or dinner? If you’re a coffee addict like me, find out where you can get your java fix.

As it gets closer to the big weekend, start thinking about what to take. If you are having photo ops, think about what you want to wear. If you cosplay, make sure you have everything for your outfit and anything you might need for emergency fixes. If you have an extra battery or mobile charger, take it! Outlets and charging stations are always in high demand and hard to get to. Make sure you have a bag that is comfortable to carry all day and easy to access and take off; you’ll need it to stash the stuff you’ll need throughout the day and anything you may buy (unless you have time to take it back to your car or hotel room). Take what you think you’ll need for the day but don’t make it too heavy. Nothing is worse than lugging around what feels like a bag of bricks.

One of the things I cannot stress enough is making sure you have enough to eat and drink over the course of the con. This is one of the pieces of advice you will see repeated time and again in posts of a similar nature; that is how important it is. Everyone has their own dietary needs and habits, so I will generalize as much as I can. Having snacks to eat between panels or events, taking a brown bag lunch with you if you’re going to be there all day, and drinking plenty of water is essential. Food vendors or restaurants, if they’re even available on-site, tend to be wildly expensive and leaving to go eat somewhere by not always be feasible. I make sure to have food enough to sustain me otherwise and what I don’t eat I take back home. This can also be a big money saver. I promise, you won’t regret having thought this out.

Get out your highlighter and prepare for some fun. The week before the con is when the daily schedule is normally released, and while much of this will depend on what you’re doing at the con, it’s important to know what, when, and where everything is happening . If you have autographs or photo ops, the first thing you’ll want to do is find them and highlight the hell out of them. You don’t want to miss those! Mark the panels you want to see and give yourself time to queue beforehand. Even if you have a guaranteed seating it would be a good idea to queue, the earlier you’re there the better seat you can get. The only time this wouldn’t be necessary is if you are at a con with a designated seat; this aren’t wholly common but you will find that option at Creation Entertainment conventions. Also give yourself time to walk the vendor floor and artist alley. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, there are always some pretty cool things to look and people to interact with. You’ll also see a lot of the cosplayers on the vendor floor.

For your travel to the con and depending on when things would start for you, give yourself enough time to register and get your badge. You don’t want to be in long line waiting to get your badge and miss the first panel if things start early for you.

IT’S SHOWTIME!

Take a deep breath and prepare yourself. This is likely to be the most stressful moment of the whole experience. But it will soon give way to an extraordinary experience.

Learn the layout of the land. Know where to go for panels, autos, and ops; most importantly, scope out a quiet place that you can sit and take a breather. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, having a spot to go to that is away from the crowds for a few minutes, an hour, or however long you need, is extremely helpful. That’s advice I received while chatting with a vendor my first time at a con and it has stayed with me ever since.

Be sure to stay hydrated and don’t be embarrassed to pull those snacks or a sandwich from your bag when you’re getting hungry; I do this and it honestly makes a world of difference. I typically live off of PB&J, granola, and fruit snacks over the weekend. Depending on the con I’m at, I’m lucky to get one “normal” meal a day; that could be ordering pizza to the hotel or leaving with my sister or a friend if there’s time for lunch or dinner offsite. There is nothing worse than waking up on the second or third day of the con sick to your stomach and feeling like death because you are starved or dehydrated, so however you do it, make sure you get some proper nutrition.

Take care of yourself. It’s so easy to get caught of the rush and excitement, but remembering to breathe, eat, and drink will truly make your experience that much better and more memorable.

Take pictures! Talk to people!! Have fun!!!

I hope this helps and gives you a headstart in  planning to attend your first con. They are extraordinary events that I hope everyone who’s interested gets a chance to experience. Happy con going!!

comic con

 

 

 

 

 

Conventions, Celebrities, and Consideration

Conventions are one of the most wonderful events that you can attend as a geek. The mix of fellow geek and pop culture enthusiasts, celebrities, and things to see or buy creates an atmosphere that is like no other; it’s mind-blowing and almost indescribable. I know that each attendee’s experience is different, but I left my first convention last year with the widest smile on my face and an exuberance that took days to wear off. I was hooked and couldn’t wait until I’d be able to go back.

 I think that one of the reasons conventions are so special is the fact that the celebrities who attend, the people who bring our favorite characters to life, take time out of their busy schedule and time away from their families to give us a chance to interact with them. Whether it is attending their panel, or if you’re lucky enough, a photo op and/or autograph, the chance to be in the same space as them is truly flabbergasting. As someone who values experience over mementos, it is the zenith of my personal geekdom.

 But unfortunately, there are some people who abuse that opportunity. They seem to think that since they spent hundreds of dollars for their ticket it gives them the right to do what they want or to treat the actors like they are pieces of meat.

 No. Just no.

 In no way does the amount of money you spent excuse crossing certain boundaries without consent, even as innocent as it may seem at the time. In no way does your mere proximity to a celebrity allow you to act without consent. Consent is something we hear thrown around a lot in fandom and especially at conventions, and it is something that has multilevel meanings.

 Consent is not taking a picture of someone without asking if it’s okay first. Cosplay is not consent.

 Consent is not touching or holding someone without getting permission first. Do not assume it is okay.

 Consent is respecting boundaries and personal space. Period.

 Thankfully occurrences of fans crossing the line are not common, but it does happen. And each time it does it reprehensible, regardless of the intent behind the act.

 Celebrities are people just like us; it can be easy to forget that given their fame and status. But at the end of the day they want to have a good time and be respected, just like every other person who walks this planet. Many of the actors who attend conventions do so because they love the interaction with their fans as much as we love interacting with them. It is a symbiotic relationship that should be, must be, based in mutual appreciation and respect. Just as we can opt to not attend the con, they can just as easily opt to not accept the invitation from the con organizers.

 Believe me, I understand firsthand what it is like to be star-struck. To actually be in front of the person who you’ve watched for years and admire for their talent (and good looks, let’s be honest), it’s easy to lose your faculties for a minute. When my sister and I first met Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, we barely had enough sense about us to be able to tell them what we wanted to do for our photo op (and all it was was a side-by-side hug with them in the middle!) and afterwards we both remarked how surreal it was (and we admittedly couldn’t stop giggling about it, we blamed the musk).

 Don’t get me wrong. If you have even just a modicum of proper manners or common sense, you’ll get along just fine. Most of the actors who attend cons are very fun and very easy going. A lot of times if you tell them what your idea for a photo op is and you ask if it’s okay, they’ll go along with it (within reason, course). Just remember, fantasizing about celebrities in your head and on your Tumblr is just fine, as long as that it where it stays. They are not there for you to act out your wildest desires.

 Conventions are a hallowed tradition in the geek world. We should consider ourselves lucky that we are alive during a time in which the type and number of cons available for attending are numerous. And if you are fortunate enough to be able to attend a con, don’t ruin the experience for yourself or for the person you are there to see. Don’t be that person, m’kay?

 

 

 

Ugh, Geeky Responsiblity

So, I’m writing this from the bottom of the Marvel well that I’ve fallen into and can’t climb out of. But2fa0fbcd5ae5d9c7d344cbccf171538d don’t worry, I’m perfectly content and happy here. And honestly, I’m not trying to get out.

Marvel is in my top five all-time favorite fandoms and one of the ones that I’m currently most active in. With the recent releases of Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse, it’s been consuming a majority of my fangirling downtime. Let’s just say that I’ve spent more time on Tumblr in the last three weeks than I have in the last three years. And it’s been glorious. So much to look at, so much to read, so little time in which to do it.

Okay, getting off track in my excitement, let me get back to my original point- my “out-of-control” Marvel obsession and what it’s led to.

If you follow the con scene at all, you’ll know that this weekend was the Wizard World Philadelphia con. And it was chalk full of actors from the MCU. Following the action on Twitter and Tumblr made me wish I could have been there and amplified my urge to go to the Chicago con. Not only would attending the con be an absolute blast, but I would also be able to meet Sebastian Stan (he’s the only one from the MCU attending in Chicago). And who could complain about that!?

But there is one slightly major setback. In between trying to plan out my finances to make the trip work, I resolved to get new windows for my house. Despite my desire to abide by my geek credo, I knew that the right thing to do was to not go to Chicago for Wizard World, especially considering that I will still be attending the Salute to Supernatural con in September. But from all the Marvel obsessing I’ve been doing and the posts this weekend from those attending in Philly, I started to have a relapse in conviction to convince myself that I didn’t need to go.

To my credit, I haven’t acted on the itch to buy the VIP ticket that I’ve looked at least once a day. And after the recent shopping spree I went on, it’s obvious that my impulse control is lacking. So, yay me, one small victory!

As much as I want to make it all work (as I’ve discussed in an earlier post), I have to keep telling myself that going to the Chicago con is just not feasible at this time. Yes, it will suck because I had such a great time last year, but it won’t kill me. And more to the point, it will give me the chance to save more money in the hopes of attending another con (or two) next year, hopefully one with more actors that I’m interested in seeing. In my rational business mind, the expense of attending a con needs to be somewhat comparable to the tangible experience (ie meeting my favorite actors!) as well as the intangible (being in an environment surround by amazing geeky things and people).

8rtPUup

I have a three-step action plan to help me get past this and moving forward.

1.       Keep obsessing and fangirling. It’s what gives me life.

2.       For fuck’s sake, stop online shopping.

3.       Continue saving for trips and cons so 2017 can be amazeballs.

Let’s do this!

I’m not ready!

Okay, I go this!

Eek!