For the second year in a row I attended Dragon*Con in Atlanta GA over the Labor Day weekend. There were several similarities to last year and several new things that made it a wonderful time. Thanks to everyone, old friends and new, for hanging out with us.
Background info: Dragon*Con is a huge sci-fi/fantasy convention held each year in a number of hotels (Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Westin, and Sheraton) in Atlanta. I’ve heard attendance between 40,000 and 60,000 attendees – many in costume. Celebrities also make an appearance and are available for photos and autographs at a cost. The sessions are divided in to tracks (science, trek, alternate history, podcasting, etc.) There is way too much to do for any single human being so you’ll never get bored going again and again.
Similar to last year, my buddy Kreg from South Carolina and I did another live show for the podcast track. We changed the format from last year’s game show to be more like our regular Sunday night show. Let’s just say that it was not as successful as we would have liked and isn’t going to be released to the public any time soon.
We also attended the Parsec Awards for excellence in speculative fiction podcasting. While we weren’t nominated (we don’t have a category for what we do), it was great to see some of the recognized names winning as well as many new names. In some cases, new names won out over some stiff competition from the incumbents. Congratulations to everyone who won!
Unlike last year, Kreg and I went in costume. No Wookies or steampunk for us, we went as Men In Black. I already have a black suit, and it’s easy to travel in. Throw in a black tie, tabloid, and a neuralizer, and we were ready to go at little additional cost. (It also had an unintended side effect that I’ll talk about later.) My flight to Atlanta was delayed a couple hours because of weather in Chicago. Coupled with a 3 hour line (could have been 4 if I hadn’t gotten lucky and hit the express queue) to get registered, it meant we got to Thursday night’s “cosplay” (costume show off time) later than expected. Almost immediately people were asking to take our photos. It was an interesting feeling, but it also meant that we couldn’t take as many photos as last year. We also wore the costumes to march in the Dragon*Con Parade on Saturday. The latest estimate of parade attendees was 3,000, but I’m sure it was much higher by Saturday. The Atlanta streets were lined with thousands of people all cheering loudly. That was something to behold. Thankfully, the weather was beautiful. With three “Elvis” costumes in front of us and “Mr. Six” from Six Flags Theme Parks behind us, it wasn’t hard to convince people we had a right to “zap” them with our neuralizers. We were joined by Cian McMahon, host of View from the Quad podcast, and his lovely girlfriend Lizzie O’Malley from Ireland, as well as Clinton Alvord from Comedy4Cast. We appreciate them joining us in the parade and hanging out the rest of the weekend.
Clinton also joined us for a recording of commentary over the movie “Star Trek V – The Final Frontier”. If you have ever watched Mystery Science Theater 3000, you know the style of commentary. Kreg and I started doing this a few years back with “Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan” while driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles (Clinton helped us finish out that project last year.) We set our sites on a lower target and ripped up STV this past weekend. Kreg is getting me the audio to release to the Technorama listeners. It was a lot of fun and we’re already plotting for next year’s movie.
We also spent some time with Grant Baciocco this weekend. We had a pleasant surprise Saturday night when the magic show we wanted to see was full so we went to see Grant’s friend Tom Smith perform his music as part of the FILK track. We had a wonderful time experiencing some funny music and audience interaction. Thanks Grant and Tim!
One of our major objectives for going to Dragon*Con was to talk to the celebrities to set up future interviews for the Technorama podcast. We have not done too many interviews or site tours in the last few months so we thought this might be a good opportunity to start collecting contact names for future use. It worked better than we had hoped. We collecting about a dozen names/numbers of stars or their agents. We even got two in-person interviews with Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) and Edward James Olmos (Admiral Adama from Battlestar Galactica). Oddly, it seemed that when I wore the MIB suit, I got better results.
It was this “intelligence gathering” that prompted me and Kreg to re-think our podcast strategy. Long story short – we’re going to be doing future interviews in a new (yet to be named) podcast on the ChuckChat.com site. Stay tuned for future details. Part of the logic was that Technorama has two brands. One light-hearted and the other for interviews and audio tours. The actors or their agents/managers will want to check out the show before they book. If they listen to one of our silly shows, they may not want to be get involved. However, if they listen to a series of interviews we have done before (e.g. Gil and Edward) then they have no doubt what the show is about and what sort of interview we will be doing. We are very excited about this new project and the schedule for the next year.
Again, I want to thank all the people that we met (or re-met) this year. Special thanks to the TWiT people, Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont, who allowed us some space on their table to see a few books.
Goals and plans for next year are already in the works… it’s going to be even more fun. One of these days, we’ll take a vacation that DOESN’T involve work, but then we wouldn’t have as much fun if we weren’t working at least part of the time.
Hope to see you at D*C 2011!