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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fanime 2015: Day 1

Welcome to the next part of my Fanime blog, Day 1.

We woke up later than we wanted to and of course I had the brilliant idea the night before to put together a last minute cosplay. Which I didn't actually wear today. But I needed to buy things, so I dragged H4773r out after pulling together a Pokemon inspired look. I picked up a couple of skirts, one of which I incorporated into the look I was already wearing  and the second skirt I decided to use for the upcoming cosplay, Tina Belcher from "Bob's Burger."

My Pokemon inspired look.

We managed to find a decent parking lot although by the end of day it was a bit pricier than we expected ($25 as opposed to $20). The new place we're taking to is under the Morton's Steakhouse on Park Ave and Market St. We knew that with the panels happening today we wouldn't have much time to get food. So even though we both had a light breakfast we make a quick stop at Specialty's Bakery for a light lunch. Specialty's doesn't appear to offer vegan food right off the menu, but they do have a great vegetarian selection. I went the "PB and Stuff" sandwich, which has peanut butter, bananas, apple slice, and a cranberry sauce on whole wheat. So good. (Note: I don't want to say the sandwich was vegan, because I didn't get a list of all the ingredients, but I'm sure this might qualify.)

We realized as soon as we got to the convention that had run into our first big problem of the day, we forgot the laptop charger at home and wouldn't have enough time before the first panel to pick it up. We made a round of phone calls and we were able to secure a back up laptop if needed. Once that was taken care of we headed over to meet our fellow panelists for our fist panel of the day, "Is It Real?: Blade Basics." H4773r was joined by his former co-worker and blade hobbyist CJ, as well as current store employee from Ace of Knives, Tom Anderson. We had a decent sized group attending and the laptop held up throughout the panel. That wasn't without us having technical issues to get going. Luckily IT services were pretty prompt this year. (Note: if you're running a panel you'll need to provide your own laptop and we don't recommend using an HDMI connector for the projector, like we did. You just run into more issues trying to get it working.)

We had a couple of hours to get our stuff together and find a new laptop, load our program, and get the to next panel we were hosting. We met up with EpyonAvenger in Artist Alley, who was kind enough to lend us his laptop, and while Tony grabbed the laptop I hung out at WindoftheStar's table chatting with Steph Von Schweetz for a bit.

Our last panel of the day also went pretty well, "Game Master Round Table." It was a bit long winded at times, but I think we managed to answer some questions and give some insight. We had our friends Aaron, Brendan, Pablo Yale, and Jonathan Bernier. We definitely spent more time than we planned on talking to people after the panel and answering more questions. (Note: If you attended the panel and still have some questions for H4773r, you can reach him on his twitter.)

I forgot to mention that all of our panels were held at the Fairmont. So if you plan on attending a panel and/or are hosting one be prepared for a small trek back and forth to the main convention.

We opted for a late night dinner at Pizza My Heart, and then enjoyed some special Fanime Psycho Donuts. So, I've never tried to order a vegan pizza from Pizza My Heart. You can buy either by the slice or by the pie and I'm pretty I'd have to order a whole pie to get something close to a vegan version. I decided to just stick with being vegetarian for the weekend. Maybe next year I'll try going as a vegan. Also, I love the special donuts that Psycho Donuts puts out every year for Fanime. We enjoyed a vanilla cream Totoro donut, a red bean paste filled Doraemon donut, and Takoyaki donut balls (no squid in the donut). All were delicious and I hope they bring them back next year. Psycho Donuts does offer vegan donuts, but none of the Fanime specialties were included.

Psycho Donuts Fanime specials.

EpyonAvenger was able to get us a hotel room for the night at the Marriott. This worked out pretty well because our earliest panel was scheduled for Saturday morning. So spent a great night at the hotel attempting to vlog, drinking hard cider and watching YouTube videos.


Fanime 2015: Day 0

Hel-lo! Welcome to the superduperlongfuntime Fanime blog! This is a long overview of my weekend, what we did, what we saw, etc. I'm hoping to have the corresponding vlog up soon, keep an eye out for updates.

In order to make this blog more manageable I decided to split it up day-by-day. Also, I didn't include very many photos in the following blogs for Fanime because I was too busy taking video. (Note: Once I get around to video editing I'm going to try and screenshot some scenes and add them here.)

And lastly, the roundup is just a quick rundown of my recommendations on where to eat, what to see, costs of badges, parking, and hotels. So if you just want the quickie version click here.


I was lucky enough to have most of Thursday off. This gave me some time to catch up on sleep and mentally prep for the upcoming weekend. I had to wait until H4773r was done with work before we could leave, but as soon as he was ready we booked it over to the convention center. We made it there just after 7pm and what do you know? No line ride! Again! Now that the convention center has finished it's remodeling and Fanime has it's shit together that 6 hour line ride is dead! (Note: there wasn't a single long line for badges all weekend long.)

H4773r and I just after badge pick up
So we quickly picked up our badges and then met up with some friends. After a small discussion we decided to head out and away from the con to buy some necessities and get dinner. We settled at the Coleman Plaza. This plaza is a short driving distance from the con and has quite a few shops and restaurants. I chose to eat at Smashburger and everyone else enjoyed some L and L Hawaiian BBQ. We finished our errands and then headed back to the con.

I wanted to check out the swap meet, mostly to find a friend I hadn't seen for awhile. And success! We found a CJ! We caught on life and ran into a few other friends as well.

And finally to round out the night, we headed to the game room. Not much was happening, but H4773r and Epyon Avenger did have a nostalgic moment with DDR.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WonderCon 2014

I managed to score a press badge to WonderCon this year, thanks to The D20 Girls Project.

WonderCon, an annual pop culture convention, was held Easter weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. It boasts of nearly 50,000 attendees, over 800 exhibitors, and approximately 250 hours of programming. WonderCon is produced and operated by San Diego Comic-Con International.

When asked to describe what WonderCon is like I often call it "baby Comic-Con" or "mini Comic-Con." With the transition being made from San Francisco to Anaheim there is a bigger draw for both the movie and television industries to make appearances.


This has been my third time attending WonderCon and I say with certainty this con is growing in popularity. This is made most noticeable by the wait time to get into panels. To get into Sunday’s Nerdist panel in the Arena, which serves as the equivalent to SDCC’s Hall H, I waited in line for two hours before the panel started. I scored amazing seats for this panel. However last year, I walked into Joss Whedon’s Much Ado panel about 5 minutes before it started and scored decent floor seats.
Another incident pointing toward growth is the selling out of badges. If you have plans to attend this con next year be sure to get your tickets early. Three day badges and Saturday only badges sold out before the con, and by Saturday morning Sunday only badges had also sold out. The badges for WonderCon are fairly priced.
WonderCon does partner with hotels to offer special discounts for attendees. I would definitely recommend staying at the Anaheim Mariott Hotel or Hilton Anaheim if feasible. If not, there are a ton of hotels and motels in the immediate surrounding area that are within reasonable walking distance.

I stayed at the Anaheim National Inn, which I booked through Expedia. I booked this hotel absolutely last minute and because it was the cheapest. I did not read any of the reviews before booking. This turned out to be an "almost" mistake. The Expedia rating was a 3 star and that was good enough for me. However, after I had booked I actually took a look at the comments and became very nervous about where I was staying. Luckily, upon arriving 
This is an excellent pop culture con to pick up your favorite comic, movie or television related merchandise. There is a great selection of tees, comics, prints and many exclusives to browse through.
This convention also attracts a high level of cosplay. Notable cosplayers at this con included Yaya Han, who signed prints at the Lion Forge booth, and Abby Darkstar, Wind of the Stars, and Ivy Doom Kitty who were featured at the Webble booth. Even if you’re not a professional cosplayer this community is incredibly accepting of novices. It really is about having fun and find other people who can share your fandom. If want a chance to view all the excellent cosplay an spot is right outside the front of the main convention hall by the water fountain. This is where many people hang out and show off their work. Of course, there is also the Masquerade, where professionals and amateurs alike compete for prizes. This year’s Mistress of Ceremonies was Ashley Eckstein.
Between all the panels offered and the huge exhibit hall you’re going to want to get food at some point. I would recommend staying away from convention food unless absolutely necessary. It is extremely over priced. Just outside the convention hall in the Marriot Hotel is a small food court that also includes a Starbucks. This is also the second year that WonderCon has hosted a small set of food trucks to set up in the main drag.
I was able to sit in on some panels this weekend as well. I caught the last half of the DC Comics: Batman panel and listened to the amazing Gail Simone talk about the upcoming Batgirl issues. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming issues #32-34 in which Gail said that everything she’s been asking to put into the comics for the last three years will finally come into fruition.
I attended both the Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox presentations. First up for Warner Brothers was “Edge of Tomorrow” starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt and featuring panelist Bill Paxton. The audience was treated to some extended footage of the movie.wondercon2
Then came “Into the Storm” featuring panelists Steven Quale, Richard Armitage, Max Deacon, Arlen Escarpeta, and Jeremy Sumpter. Again, and really this is what these large movie panels are about, the audience saw extended footage of the movie.
wondercon3The final Warner Brothers presentation was for Godzilla featuring panelist Gareth Edwards. This was an amazing treat presented by Edwards who gave the audience an awesome full body look at Godzilla and a special surprise story line.
After the Warner Brothers came the 20th Century Fox movie presentations. Fox kicked off with “How To Train Your Dragon 2” featuring panelists Dean DeBlois and Jay Baruchel. The audience was treated to the first 5 minutes of the movie.
wondercon4This was followed up with “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” featuring panelists Matt Reaves, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Andy Serkis. The audience was able to see an extended trailer with additional featured footage.
“The Maze Runner” came next with panelists James Dashner, Wes Ball, Will Poulter and Dylan O’Brien with some great movie footage. A special surprise was an extended feature trailer for the upcoming movie “Secret Service.” And Fox then closed with footage of the upcoming “X-Men” featuring Simon Kinberg.
Next I caught the Bob’s Burgers panel with panelists Loren Bouchard, Dan Mintz, Kristen Sachel, John Roberts, and Larry Murphey. The audience was treated to an upcoming episode and the “lyrics” to the opening theme before the floor was opened to a Q&A session.wondercon5
The final panel I caught for the weekend was the Nerdist panel in the Arena. This panel was hosted by Chris Hardwick and featured panelists Jessica Chobot, Brian Walton, Dan Casey, Malik Forte, Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, and Jocelyn Hughes. This was an extremely fun panel with Hardwick talking about what’s up and coming for the Nerdist channel and podcasts as well as the future of the Nerdist franchise.wondercon6 I had a great time at this con and would definitely recommend attending if you want an idea of San Diego Comic-Con International without the headache of the crowds and chaos that surrounds it. Also, when you’re done at the end of the day you can easily enjoy Disneyland and/or Medieval Times.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

WonderCon Filler: "CONsent" by 16-bit Sirens

I'm still recovering from WonderCon and working all week. I should have my WonderCon blog post by this weekend.

In the mean-time, here is some filler. I found this article linked to several FB posts and such and I actually remember seeing this woman approaching con goers while at WonderCon. I didn't feel so inquisitive/bold to approach and ask what she was doing and am now really regretting it. I would've loved to have had a conversation with 16Bit Sirens about their project.

This has been a hot topic of late: the issue of wearing a "sexy" cosplay outfit suddenly becomes consent to be sexually harrassed and degraded. I really appreciate these ladies trying to start an open discussion about the topic.

P.S. If anyone from 16-bit Sirens would like to team up with the D20 Girls on a panel to further this discussion contact me please!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fun Times with Friends and Cons I'm Missing Out On

So my friend, SiriouslySirius, decided for her birthday celebration she wanted a Sailor Moon themed party. She requested every dress up in an outfit "inspired by" their favorite Sailor Moon character.

Watching Sailor Moon (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)
Ok, time for a geek confession: I've never watched the entire Sailor Moon series. I had previously watched about 3 episodes in Japanese with English subtitles, but never got around to watching the rest. Siris had requested we pick our two favorite episodes to watch at her party. H4773r mentioned the Sailor Moon abridged series and I managed to catch up on a few more episodes and feel like I had a better grasp on the characters. So I gave it some thought and decided on dressing up as Luna, because sometime I do like to pretend I-know-it-all. Unfortunately I didn't get my request in for episode in on time, but I would've gone with the very first episode where Luna is introduced. It's just so funny that she's derpy for those few minutes with the band-aid on her forehead.

I chose to wear a dark purple button down shirt, black skirt, black tights, black shoes, furry cat ears, and a fuzzy cat tail, complete with a drawn on moon in the middle of my forehead. I seriously debated on wearing a band-aid and just talking in a derpy manner all-night, but I liked the idea of having the moon better.
Luna inspired cosplay (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)

Siris has also requested that we try to bring in a Sailor Moon inspired dish. I really loved her suggestions, plus I thought it was pretty clever. Here's the list of them:

Sailor Moon: meatballs, dumplings, or Moonpies (because of her hair and what Tuxedo Kamen calls her)
Sailor Mercury: finger sandwiches (sandwiches are Ami's favorite food)
Sailor Mars: traditional rices (because she's a Shinto Priestess)
Sailor Jupiter: hot dog-octopus (because they're always a present in Makoto's bento boxes)
Sailor Venus: heart shaped cookies with yellow sugar sprinkles (because it would look like Minako's Love and Beauty Shock attack)
Sailor Pluto: pesto pasta (because she has green hair)
Chibi Moon: pink cotton candy (because "PINK SUGAR HEART ATTACK!"~exact quote)
Sailor Neptune: saltwater taffy (because Michiru is from the ocean)
Sailor Uranus: popcorn (because it's Harukua's hair)
Sailor Saturn: it's a surprise! (because of Silence Glaive Surprise!)

I chose to make the pesto pasta. Another little known fact: I can't cook! I thought making pasta would be easy...first it started with finding the right ingredients. I have certain dietary restrictions (mostly by choice) and had a difficult time finding a gluten-free spinach pasta or a dairy-free pesto. I finally opted for a non-gluten-free spinach pasta, but did find a dairy-free pesto by. I came home to cook it...I didn't really have the time or patience for the water to reach a full boil. So it really became a guess of when it was done. When it was finally done I just poured the pre-made pesto over the hot pasta and called it done. Actually, I did add some white cannellini beans because I hate not having a protein option. From what I can tell it came out ok. People ate it. No one complained. No one was sick. I thought it was fairly bland. But whatevs.

Crappy photo of crappy pasta (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)
H4773r and I arrived a bit late, but the partiers hadn't gotten far into their series. We stuck around for a few episodes, but after a bit I realized that my day job was catching up to me and we called it a night. We did have a great time though.

There are some wonderful cons happening this weekend and unfortunately I won't be able to attend. First up is APE or Alternative Press Expo or, as I like to call it, Comic-Con's lesser know bastard cousin. I actually do enjoy APE, but I have found from previous experience there isn't much to do unless you really have money to spend. They do have a few panels and plenty of opportunities to meet your favorite webcomic artists in person, or other designers. But this isn't a cosplay convention and the panel listings are pretty light. Really I would go to this convention to meet my favorite artists and buy their products directly from them. As I'm pretty broke right now I won't be attending. If you've never been I suggest making a "San Francisco Day" out of it. Stop by APE, say hi to people, buy their wares and then take in a sight or two of the City. It's fairly inexpensive at $15 for the entire weekend, or if you went to San Diego Comic-Con International-it's free, and they do have a quite a few featured guests.

Also happening this weekend is New York Comic Con. I have never attended before as I don't live anywhere near NY. But I would love to attend some day. My favorite artists that I wish I could meet would be (in no particular order)
MC Frontalot (again)
Bryan Lee O'Malley
Stan Lee
Adam West
Bruce Campbell
Chris Columbus
Christopher Lloyd
Kevin Smith
Seth Green
Tom Felton
Adrianne Curry (again)
Anne Rice
Amber Benson

This con ranks up there with attending SDCC. I would venture to say NYCC is almost comparable to SDCC in that they have a ton of celebrities, a huge vendor floor and tons of panels to attend. Perhaps some other year.

Lastly, I will most definitely be missing the NorCal Renaissance Faire. It just isn't in the cards financially and scheduling wise for me to attend this year. I will sorely miss Moonie and Broon as well as the lovely Merry Wives of Windsor, two of my favorite acts. If you can, go for me and enjoy a pint of mead and turkey leg (even though I would never eat one).

So, what exactly will T1nk be doing in the future? Well, the reason why I won't have funds to attend much of anything this month is because I'm going to Disneyland for 4 days and enjoying (AKA paying extra) to attend Mickey's Halloween Party. H4773r and I have never been the Halloween party before and when a group of friends asked if we'd like to join them we didn't hesitate in saying yes. We already have annual passes and can enjoy the Halloween season anytime this month, but it will be extra special this year to attend the party. Our group is dressing up as cross-play Alice in Wonderland. I will be the Hattress and H4773r will be Alex (in Wonderland). I forsee having a wonderful time with plenty of pictures of costumes and character meetings.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

San Diego Comic-Con & Gam3rCon 2012

My trip to San Diego, and more specifically to Comic-con, almost didn't happen this year.

San Diego Comic-con is notorious. Not only for the convention itself but also for the inability to get tickets. Awhile back I was given the possibility of going to Comic-con for free. How might you ask since all the tickets had been sold out for months? Well, I work for a wonderful organization called The D20 Girls Project. We put out a monthly newspaper and quarterly magazine, as such, members can qualify for press badges. And with the help of my awesome assistant manager, Cryshayn, we were able to attain press badges. However, I struggled to actually get my badge from Comic-con despite the approval. For awhile it looked as though I wouldn't be getting a badge at all, and so, I began making secondary plans. I already had a hotel to stay at and knew that several happenings occur around downtown San Diego during comic con from a previous trip. One of these happenings is Gam3rCon.

So I contacted Gam3rCon to see if they needed/wanted any help. Luckily they did. However, shortly after I agreed to help out Gam3rCon, I finally recieved my badge for SDCC. So now I had two cons to attend. Woohoo!

Day Zero: Thursday

We left NorCal on Thursday late morning and decided to stop by Disneyland, because we can. Of course, this meant missing out on all of Thursday's panels at SDCC AND missing out on Nerdcore nights at Gam3rCon. Luckily we were planning on going to the Nerdcore show later that weekend. Disneyland was great, as usual, but not being used to SoCal, I didn't realize leaving the park at 11pm would mean we wouldn't get into San Diego until after 1am - oops. Luckily our host we so generous and nice, as well as our other roommates. Yes, we were those people, and stuffed seven bodies into our hotel room at the Hilton Bayfront. Being that it was so late we just literally threw sleeping bags on the some available floor space and passed out in our clothes.

Official Day One: Friday

My Gam3rCon staff shirt (photo courtesy of  T1nk the C0n Fairy)
Awoke at a decent hour, but not early enough to grab my SDCC badge, and got dressed and then headed directly to Gam3rCon. We met the awesome Robin, our volunteer co-ordinator, and got settled in. Even H4773r decided to join in on the volunteerism. I was set up to do street team work, which meant heading down the Gaslamp district near SDCC and promoting Gam3rCon. We headed out with our beautiful mascot, Fallen Flyte (aka Olivia) and spent a couple of hours promoting the heck out of Gam3rCon.

Fallen Flyte (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)
As soon as I was able, I ran down to SDCC and grabbed my badge and then spent what little time I had left wandering around the con. I had missed most of the panels already so I decided to check out the vendor hall and see if I could meet any of my D20 Girls in person. I found Cryshayn in the "gaming room". I use the verbiage "gaming room" very loosely. The gaming room is located on the Mezzanine section of the main convention center, which in of itself is hard to find (I actually had to look it up on the FAQ section to just find it). And then you make a turn and wander down a hall. Seeing as how I'd just come from Gam3rCon earlier that day, with 3 floors of gaming, I wasn't impressed. I also found Leah Rose from our Arizona location on the main floor.

Ermahgerd! Cermic Cern! (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)

After I enjoyed the wonders of the vendor hall and met a few other D20 Girls by just wandering around I headed back to Gam3rCon. I decided to walk back and enjoy all the sights of the Gaslamp district, but I could have taken the free shuttle that was being offered by Gam3rCon. There are so many restaurants in the Gaslamp. I was really disappointed that I wouldn't be able to eat at most of them because we were trying to save money on this trip. Although I did enjoy a delicious veggie burger at Hodad's earlier in the day.

Every evening Gam3rCon hosts some type of rooftop event/party. This night was the showing of Video Game High School, which also had a few of the stars making an appearance. I had actually caught this YouTube series earlier in the year in one of my random, geeky news feeds and was familiar with the opening episode. H4773r and I are big fans of Harley Morenstein from Epic Mealtime. I was a bit disappointed he wasn't able to make an appearance. Overall the cast was super nice and I enjoyed watching some more of this hilarious series before I decided to call it a night.

Day Two: Saturday

Saturday's outfit (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)
I woke up at a fairly decent but still not early enough to get to anything at SDCC. Instead I made sure to get breakfast and stop by a Starbucks on the way (not the one at the Hilton though because the line was out of the door). I made my way back to Gam3rCon and made swag bags until it was time to start my next shift doing street team work again. I had debated on wearing a costume that day, but overall decided that since it would be a long day I probably wouldn't have the stamina to tolerate a costume.

Fun story that happened while working for street team: A guy with a microphone and camera man approached our street team and asked Olivia if he could interview her for a segment. I only glanced at him and couldn't quite see his shirt to identify what company he was with, but I did notice he had what looked like a Fleshlight in his other hand. She immediately said yes and then he asked her what she thought about Fleshlights. (So it was a flesh light!) Her face drew a blank as she asked aloud, "What's a Fleshlight?" I immediately made some kind of face at Olivia who took one look at me and then told the interviewer that she changed her mind. I piped in with, "So that is a Fleshlight you're holding?" To which he responded yes, and then asked if I would be interviewed. To which I said, "Yes!" I was asked which superhero I'd have sex with (answer: Tony Stark), which superheroes I'd have a 3-way with (answer: Catwoman and Batman), do I own a Fleshlight (answer: no), would I consider buying one (answer: no, but if someone gave me one that'd be cool). He then mentioned Fleshlight/Hustler Magazine would be having a party that night and I should stop by. I said maybe, but I knew I wasn't going since I had a concert to go to that night.

I trekked back to the Cryptozic store with everyone to get picked up and then stopped in to check with H4773r and another friend to see how they were doing at Gam3rCon. I knew I had missed all the panels, again, but decided to head back to SDCC and into the vendor hall to pick up swag and maybe meet some more people. I did manage to find Adrianne Curry getting interviewed on the street and snag a photo, thanks to her awesome manager/friend.

Could I have more of derp face? (photo courtesy of  T1nk the C0n Fairy)
Honestly, I kind of forgot that getting swag at SDCC is it's own thing to do. You have to wait in line and run around from place to place hoping you'll make it before the line is either cut off or they run out of stuff. I managed to pick up a few things and make a couple of purchases for some friends who missed out on joining us. I also ran into/met Lili for the first time. She's one of my new hire for the California D20 Girls and has a great girls gaming group that she works for, The Mos Eisley Girls.

After running around all day I barely managed to pull myself away from SDCC to meet up with H4773r so we could attend "Nerdcore Nights." This was an event I wanted to attend for a few reasons. One, I absolutely love any chance I get to see MC Frontalot or MC Lars live. They're great performers and the concerts are fun. Also, I knew that Devil's Playground Burlesque would be performing and I wanted to network with people from The Gamer Girls. I had a great time for the time I actually spent there. Please check out this blog for my review on the show.

Sunday: Last day in San Diego

I decided to wear my costume, Alice from American McGee's Alice, on this day since I knew it would be a short day as far as work. I checked in with Gam3rCon and did my final day of street team work. There weren't any panels of interest on Sunday so I didn't feel horrible missing out on anything. And I did spend my last day back in the vendor hall picking up more swag, because really, that's all I could afford.

H4773r and friend playing Starcraft II (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)
After SDCC shut down I had planned a D20 Girl dinner meet up at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was a very small, but great event. I love when I get to meet other D20 Girls in person and just chat about geeky things.
The D20 Girls (Cryshayn, Leah Rose, and JC) at Hard Rock Cafe (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)

I ended the night back at Gam3rCon for their "Deconpression" event. It was a great day to end a long weekend.
At Deconpression as Alice (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)
Where we stayed
View from our room (photo courtesy of T1nk th C0n Fairy)
H4773r and I, in our old age, prefer to stay in hotels connected to the convention center. In this case it was the Hilton Bayfront. However, I honestly had no idea what price we'd be paying even splitting the cost amongst 6 people. In the future, I think we'll look into staying somewhere farther away and using the shuttle buses or the trolley to commute to and from the San Diego convention center. This year SDCC helped those out by extending the trolley running hours as well.

What we ate
H4773r and I usually try to be thrifty when it comes to food. We often bring our own snacks and items to make meals out of. H4773r has a huge preference to using MRE's. But we did eat out a bit. In general, the Gaslamp district offers a huge variety and pricing scale for places to eat. I enjoyed meals at Hodad's and the Hard Rock Cafe. H4773r ate at Cremolose. And then I did have an emergency meal at Papa John's pizza. There are also a few Starbucks around if you're in need of caffeine.

Veggie foods: I always bring vegetarian/vegan snacks with me. I also usually break my no dairy rule on vacations just because I have such a hard time finding decent protein sources. At Hodad's I enjoyed their veggie burger and fries (no cheese). At Hard Rock I had the Veggie Leggie (sooo good!) and enjoyed my side salad with a vinaigrette.

H4773r and I didn't have any problems with parking this year since we were hotel guests. We opted to pay the $27 per day to park at the Hilton Bayfront parking lot.

Overall trip
This trip was a wash for me. While I did get assistance in get my SDCC tickets and got a share a room (albeit, very expensive room), this trip was highly expensive. In general a trip to SDCC is expensive. I had quite a few of my roommates spend hundreds, almost a couple of thousand on purchasing SDCC exclusives. And this is in addition to hotel costs, travel costs, food costs, and cosplay costs (if you're into that sort of thing). Also, because of my  obligations I really feel like I didn't get to enjoy either con as much as I wanted. I didn't game at Gam3rCon and I didn't catch a single panel at SDCC.

I honestly don't know if we'll be heading back to SDCC next year. We've already missed out on purchasing the passes and since my article was never submitted to D20 I don't know if I'll be eligible for a press badge next year. If we do go next year, I plan on making the most of it by spending my day at SDCC and then joining Gam3rCon in the evening as an attendee.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fanime 2012

Fanime has been and probably always will be one of my favorite cons to attend, and not just because it’s in my hometown. Fanime is known as the con by the fans for the fans and pretty much runs on just volunteer help. Yet it still pulls in thousands of attendees year after year and just keeps getting bigger.

T1nk & H4773r (aka Red Bird and Kotetsu) Photos belong to T1nkC0nFairy
Fanime started out as a small, free convention in 1994 at Cal State Hayward. As Fanime continued to grow in popularity it changed venues several times before finally coming to the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, where it still continues to reside today. There is no official documentation for overall attendance but it's estimated around 20,000 people attended this past year. (Info taken from Wikipedia.)

One of my favorite parts about this con is you can still "attend" without having a badge. There are several areas in the "concourse" that are free to the public. Here you can see some events at "Stage Zero" or just people watch.

Hotel accommodations: Fanime works with both hotels connected directly to the McEnery Convention Center, The Marriott and The Hilton. They also partner with the Sainte Claire and the very posh Fairmont. Of course favorites are the The Marriott and Hilton because they have direct opening right into the con center, but the St. Claire and Fairmont are within very short walking distance. There is also the DoubleTree which is farther away but runs a shuttle to and from the con. Of course, book early! I believe announcements for reservations went up in early February on both the Fanime twitter site and Facebook page and rooms were booked within hours. The hotels are very used to being invaded by Fanime and while it’s frowned upon I have known people to shove upwards of 6+ guests to a room.

Parking: If you’re staying at one of the hotels listed above there will be valet parking offered. I honestly don’t know what the rates per days are, but it certainly isn’t cheap. There is also parking at the McHenry Convention Center, but again, not cheap. For “cheaper” parking there are a couple of options. First are two lots on the west side of the con center. Both lots are available for about $7 a day and the lot on Almaden Boulevard also offers overnight parking. I ended up parking at a lot off of Azuerais Avenue near the Children's Discovery Museum. It was within walking distance and only $5 a day with in and out privileges. There are a lots on 3rd and San Carlos and 4th and San Fernando that have pay by the hour parking until 6pm and then it becomes a flat rate, but they are not overnight. And of course many parking lots for various prices in-between these streets.

Food: There is plenty to eat at very reasonable prices around the con center. I never recommend buying food at the con itself, but there are a few exceptions I make. One, Psycho Donuts! There is a location on 2nd and E. San Carlos but this year they actually set up a booth to sell Psycho Psushi and drinks. Within the con there was also Tengu Sushi (I think), which sold bento boxes, and Sweet Breams, which sold taiyaki. Within reasonable walking distance you can find plenty of fast food, favorites beings McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, and Pizza My Heart.  If you’re willing to walk a bit further not only will you find more great restaurants, such as Gordon Biersch, but also the local downtown Safeway. I can cannot tell you how thrilled I was that the Peet's Coffee within the convention center stayed open 24/7 all weekend long; it was such a life saver.
(Notes to my veg foodies: my favorite recommendations are Psycho Donuts, which serves vegan donuts, and  the Pita Pit, which has late hours.)

Psycho Psushi (photo belongs to T1nkC0nFairy)

What I did at Fanime this year: Fanime offers a wide variety of panels and I had promised myself I would try to attend more of them this year, alas my personal life didn’t allow me to. So I only ended up at three panels this year.

Viz Media: presented by Viz Media to discuss upcoming Viz Media releases. A very informative panel on upcoming manga and video releases and where to buy them as well as some nice prizes offered for answering some very simple trivia questions.

Is It Real?: presented by Armor-Geddon and the Twilight Knights. An informative panel, that I actually assisted in, hosted by my fiancĂ©, Tony “H4773r” Elfson Sales. He discussed what makes a knife/sword practical vs. non-practical, how to maintain your weaponry, and different styles of weaponry.

H4773r educates (photo belongs to T1nkC0nFairy)

Geeky Networking 101: presented by Venus De Coy of Goddess Productions. Again, another informative panel, complete with handout, on approaching fellow geeks for networking purposes. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stick around for the entire panel so I don’t know whether or not her techniques were put to practical use at the end of the panel.

Costume Masquerade: I did not wait in the uber long line that went around 3 blocks this year. Instead I waited until about an hour after it started and then was able to just walk in and get seats, albeit in the nosebleed section of the auditorium, but seats nonetheless. I caught the end of the walk-on costume parade and the first 15 skits before I realized I need to leave and catch a panel. The masquerade is full of hits and misses as one would expect. Some skits are hilarious even if you've never seen the anime and others are just lacking. But I still enjoy trying to catch it for the amazing gems that show up. Also our MC was great at keeping the audience fairly occupied.

New Anime I Caught

Avatar the Last Airbender: Abridged
I've seen the entire Airbender series, which makes watching the abridged version that much more enjoyable.
 It's just absolutely hilarious, even if you've never watched the anime before. In general, I think the abridged series does well to summarize the episodes.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199
Fanime presented the first four episodes of this new series. I'd love to see the rest. I'm not the biggest space anime person, but I really got into the characters and storyline.

Revolutionary Girl Utena
I keep catching the first few episodes and really need to find the rest of the series. I find the plot intriguing and the implications of a relationship between Utena and Anthy so dreamy.

Things I missed out on that I hope to catch up on next year

Black and White Ball
The Black and White Ball is considered a formal, dress-up event. There are several dance classes held throughout the day that teach you the basics of such styles as the Waltz and Salsa, etc. I had heard from different resources that the enforcement for attire was hit and miss with con staff. Some staff members got super picky about certain outfit aspects and let other aspects slide. While the guidelines were very clear the consensus was that Fanime staff wasn't. Last year there were no in/out privileges; if you left the ball you had to wait in a very long line to get back in. I'm not sure if they had this same rule this year. Perhaps next year I'll actually be able to attend and enjoy a few dances. The ball was also scheduled the same time as Cosplay Spectacular. I'm not sure if this was done to prevents both events from being overcrowded, but since I usually attend the Spectacular I decided to pass on the Ball.

The Raves aka Fanimecon Dance
Fanime brought back their raves with a vengeance. In the last few years the raves had fallen to the wayside with very light attendance. This year Fanime brought in several D.J.'s and rotated them throughout the weekend so there was something new every night. Again, long lines to get in and I heard staff was being strict on things like bag checks. I haven't been to the rave since my first Fanimecon, and back then it was quite so-so. If Fanime continues to bring in the rave D.J. rotation I'm going to try and make time to go next year.

Gaming Room
I didn't stop in at all this year. Fanime does a great job of offering several different gaming platforms and the room is staffed 24/7 throughout the weekend. As well as offering a few tournaments. I just didn't have the time or desire to go in. But I will hopefully be learning Magic: The Gathering soon and be able to join in the fun next year.

Every year I tell myself I'm going to at least stop in and maybe one year convince myself to participate and yet never get around to it. Although I can usually hear them as I wander the video rooms area. The great thing about the Karoake contest winners is they get to perform during the Masquerade. I caught this year's winner, a sister duo (Astro Ninja Fruits) that did an excellent job.

Here they are performing at the Masquerade.

Fanime association with Clockwork Alchemy
This was something very new for Fanime this year. San Jose normally has a small steampunk convention hosted through Nova Albion. Nova Albion was cancelled this year and I heard that Fanime had agreed to host Clockwork Alchemy as a way to still celebrate a steampunk con. It was an interesting sort of setup. Clockwork setup at the DoubleTree Hotel and a shuttle ran between the two cons to transport attendees. If you bought a pass to one con you were able to get into the other con with your pass. I was unable to attend the Steampunk con for various reasons. I heard that it was fun and everyone I talked to who attended seemed to have a good time, but there was an overall complaint on the lack of organization. Fanime puts out a convention guide with summaries of all the panels and main events as well as a pocket guide with all the times of events. The Fanime Guide also doubled for Clockwork Alchemy. However the Clockwork side seemed terribly lacking in panel descriptions and the pocket guide was very late to upload onto the Clockwork site. I'm very curious to see whether this partnership continues.

Of course despite the fact I missed out on much of the con due to being a theatregeek I still had a great weekend, and as always, plan on attending next year. In fact, my goal next year is to not be a theatreg33k during Fanime and actually enjoy the entire con. Look for me and H4773r panel hosting next year.