Sunday, November 21, 2010

Con Trek 2010: The Drive Til You Die Tour

Right, so I guess I procrastinated on this long enough. Holy cow, somewhere in between when I left and when I came back I somehow got up to seven readers? Damn--guess I should bring the content, in that case . . .

For those of you unused to how we do things here, the first week of the eleventh month, I pile into my car and drive up to Nekocon, an anime convention in Hampton, Virginia. (Last year's exciting recap can be seen here) I do it not because I'm a huge anime fan anymore (well, it's OK but in most respects like every other fandom I've been in it's kinda passed me by) but more to hang out with my friends, who are all excellent people and also because I like long road trips. They're fun.

Of course, with every year that ticks by, things have changed slightly. For one thing, I moved south earlier in the year. Like so far south I'm at the other end of the state for all intents and purposes. For all practical purposes (in the name of making a long story short) this turned a three-hour drive into a seven hour one. The actual distance traveled was 370 miles, 7 hours, I think I stopped twice each way down and I don't use cruise control, nor caffeinated myself to stay away. I have no idea why this is. Maybe it's against my religion, but that would require me to have a religion first, of course.

Anyways, seven hours is a long time to spend in a car in a general unaltered state of consciousness. The way to stave off madness (especially as I have frequently mentioned that great huge swathes of North Carolina are never ending empty lots and farmland) is this, and only this: You have to have a kick ass car mix to see you through the drive. I will not tell you what was on my car mix, suffice it to say it made the drive very pleasant and if you would like to venture a guess and speculate as to what was on it (bear in mind my music tastes are either "eclectic" or "horrid," depending on where fall in relation to me) you may do so in the comments section and we'll pretend it's "interactive."

Now, with the longer drive came more to see--kinda. My route, which is all backroads (I eschew interstate highways) I passed through most of the coastal towns that dot the landscape. While most of them are generally sleepy places, every now again again you see something that just shouldn't be. Such a thing I saw on the way up: I passed by a porn shop with perhaps the best name possible for a porn store to have: Gruntz. Think about it--the implications are just staggering, aren't they?

Generally though, my drive was fairly quiet and contemplative. If you're lucky, early November is just about the time when the leaves start to change, which means if you're driving while the sun comes up, means you have miles and miles of highway ahead of you and on either side is this natural blaze of colour flying by. It's all rather zen, except no one ever got pulled over by the cops in a zen garden.

So I crossed over to Virginia, I made the 'con around lunchtime, and the sight of the nigh-legendary Hampton Coliseum (most notably remembered for rock concerts and a particularly memorable episode of Monday Night Raw in 1998) As I have frequently mentioned in past recaps here and elsewhere, the Coliseum looks very much like a cake. No one knows why, and I will now show you what I mean:

Print photo at home
When did we start making buildings that look like cakes? More importantly--why did we ever stop?

The con proper doesn't take place at the Coliseum, of course, it just happens to be close to it. The actual con takes place here:

Print photo at home

Yes--the con is held in a great big play fort.

The Hampton Roads Convention Center is rather swanky and nautically themed, as the sails and the relentless fountains may have clued you in to. Being in the place everything is cool and elegant in a retro sort of way and walking in the one thing one is struck by is that this is exactly the kind of place where no one would let a whole mess of people in costume rampage around, scream, scream and jump on people, and do a lot of screaming.

Print photo at home
And yet . . .that's exactly what happened.

So yeah, this is all happening for three days. Plenty of excitable guys and girls, most scantily clad (well, the guys more than the girls . . .look, it's hard to explain, really) and only a few people dressed as people I recognise. I do look upon not getting a picture of the two guys dressed up as Kamen Rider W, but it's their own goddamned fault for showing up at 1:30 in the morning on Saturday night, isn't it?

As this was my first time going with a camera, it is difficult to know what the etiquette of shooting cosplayers is. So I didn't get that many great shots of them, but it was my first time with a camera so . . .yeah. One lives and learns.

Print photo at home

Shortly after this picture was taken, the Mandalorian depicted here was killed by a blind guy with a stick. He fell down a hole, screaming all the way. We here at Witless Prattle regret the loss of life.

A lot of going to a con is hanging out and finding stuff to do. Generally this involves spending money (I had no idea that there was an entire industry servicing cosplayers. Seriously, I saw more corsets in 2 days than I have in the previous one score and fifteen of my life to this point) either by commissioning artists (which I did) and buying the odd knickknack for friends and family (I get shopping lists y'all) failing that you can go to panels (I never see anybody at the panels) or if you're me and bored shitless at the end of a Friday night you sit in and watch the loudest, most hilarious Super Street Fighter IV tournament ever. Seriously, that was the most fun I ever had going deaf.

Ultimately, while the longer drive turned a previously one-day event into two days, I learned a valuable lesson--there's no great reason to go on any day except Saturday. One of my friends explained it this: Friday everything's getting started, Sunday everything's winding down.

He had a point, because Saturday, shit, as they say, got real. I started my day by actually playing a few people from the Super SF IV tournament from last night, and despite a few handicaps (not playing the game for months and playing with the 360 controller which is the shittiest controller I have ever tried to play with) I was actually able to hold my own, and even though I didn't win often, the fact that I could keep stride with hardcore players like that was rather heartening.

Later that afternoon, I was able to hook up with one of my friends and we decided to step away from the con and take in Hampton. This led to one of the greatest discoveries of my life:

Print photo at home

Not pictured--my friend and I laughing our assess off that such a thing even exists

Understand--that this is a Lego figure is not necessarily awesome in and of itself. It's the Lego decided, in their infinite wisdom, that what was missing from their half-century line of construction toys was a pimp from space named "Brick Daddy," and his thick-necked sidekick "Jawson." I feel like if I was ever to make a comic, it would need to be something like that. My appreciation for that kind of imagination knows no bounds.

However, my friend wanted to go play Tekken, and I had probably burnt my bridges there with an off-hand remark earlier in the day (That being: "If you can tap Morse code, you can play Tekken. In fact, anyone who ever had a homemade telegraph key kit from Radio Shack is a potential tournament player.") I was left to my own devices, wherein another friend came along, who is an equally splendid person and a very accomplished artist.

She's great fun to be around and every year I've gone, I've commissioned her for pics, and this year was no different. What set this year apart was the fact that rather than give her money, I paid for a picture by buying someone the deluxe edition of The Sound of Music.

You wish your life was this exciting.

In my defence, and in an unusual display of restraint in terms of indulging in my general wise-assishness, I did not say when she left to hang out with other friends that I would see her again when the edelweiss blooms. In other news, I know far more about that movie that I would have imagined. Odd that.

So, after a few exciting bits and bobs (including making a new friend that I'm supposed to play some Blazblue with sometime soon) I met up my friend, fresh from kicking telegrapher ass in Tekken, and we headed out for a post-con confab at the local IHOP (just across from a place called Harpoon Harry's, and really, we're better off with neither of us speculating about what that is) and it was there I learned that his friends shared my appreciation for the works of the Ed Wood of the Far East, Godfrey Ho:

God, I don't know why he used the soundtrack for the movie Runaway in that scene. I can't imagine why I feel the need to admit I recognized where it was from. It's late. I'm punchy.

Anyways, things so broke up after that and less than six hours later, it was time to hop in the car for another seven hours and head for home. While this wasn't the greatest time I'd had at Nekocon, the eventful and hilarious Saturday really made up for Friday's shortcomings. Next year I'll know better what to do and when to get there.

Thus ends Kazekage's recap of Nekocon 2010. But Kazekage will return in "Kazekage Against The World Crime League."


C. Elam said...

I have made the long, lonely trek to Houston by myself more than once, and I don't even think it's THAT long. I salute you and your endurance, sir.

Y'know, I too have a female friend who needs a copy of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. I find this rather unusual. Maybe I should throw in a Godfrey Ho movie too, because seriously, they are amazing.

Kazekage said...

Thanks man. Only took a week to recover. :)

I'm rather proud of the fact that I had a road trip wherein Godfrey Ho and The Sound of Music both figured prominently. I'm probably the only person that could happen to.