Let's Go Out to the Convention

Panoramic view of the PAX 2007 Expo Hall taken by Lord Moon

It's convention season again. Every weekend between now and Labor Day somewhere in this native land a large group of freaks and geeks are going to gather and celebrate whatever particular brand of geek/freakhood they practice. I'm a geek of the sort that attends conventions, and I help out at several. I have quite a bit of experience nerd-herding. With that in mind, I have a few bits of advice I'd like to toss out there for everyone heading off to one of these affairs.

Taking care of yourself is key. For a good general set of ideas, keep in mind The Four H’s:

  • Hydrate: It’s summer. It’s going to be hot. Getting dehydrated under these circumstances is a bad idea. Caffeine is a diuretic, so make sure to drink at least as much of something like Gatorade or just plain water as you do Bawls or Coke. Especially if you're trying to join the 1 Gram Club without giving yourself a heart attack.
  • Hygiene: You’re in a large building rubbing elbows and flux capacitors with a whole heck of a lot of people. If you're clawing your way to the top of the standings in the Warhammer tournament, the last thing you need is to be stuck downwind of someone who forgot a few steps from his toilette this morning. Showering and liberal use of deodorant is a necessity.
  • Health: Remember that large crowd I mentioned above? Even if they're not stinky, they’re not germ-free. Ditto for planes and trains and automobiles. Your immune system is your friend, so eat something real once in a while. Pocky and Ramune are not in any food group. And don’t forget to stay on any medication regimen you use in your regular life.
  • Hibernate: I know zombies are cool to see on a movie screen, but it’s not nearly so cool when you are one. If you haven’t slept for two days you’re going to feel pretty awful. And that’s not fun at all.

For a quick rule of thumb, at a minimum take one shower, eat two REAL meals, and get four to six hours of sleep per day.

Comportment:

  • No hitting. Samurai/ninja/pirates/futuristic alien soldiers need to stick to Rock-Paper-Scissors. If you're feeling the need for elitist accuracy get that girl over there in the abbreviated Gothic dolly costume to explain Jan-Ken-Pon. Maybe if you're really lucky she'll play, too.
  • Pirates vs. Ninjas touch football was an interesting idea, but the only winners in that sort of thing are the guys running the First Aid booth.
  • Cool Maneuvers are probably not. I understand how hard it can be to withstand the impulse that moves you to tempt the great god Darwin with all that you are. But you cannot do that here. Or, to say it most simply, "If you think you might need a landing pad IT'S A BAD IDEA!"

Participation:

  • Convention games like Assassin can be loads of fun, but play responsibly. Check to make sure of the local house rules. In games that are played in the wild on the convention floor, make sure your opponents are also signed up to play the game. Nothing pisses off the local populace like getting slapped on the back with a target sticker they didn't sign up for.
  • Co-ed Glomping is allowed, as long as there are no strikes that would be illegal in Judo. Both the glomper and the glompee should watch out for pointy costume pieces. Your bishie crush probably not going to get the right message if you put an eye out.
  • Waiting in line is a possibility if you decide to join in on some of the more popular activities. Tearing off your shirt and screaming, "Hulk SMASH!" will not shorten them. Nor will starting a filk of Henry the Eighth. The filker got a lot of points from the people around for creativity, though.
  • I've never promoted the death penalty for Queque Frogs. Keelhauling is much more appropriate to the offense. Do not cut in line, or you will face my wrath.

Costume Do's and Don'ts:

  • Don't get your cape caught in the intake. Or the escalator, the revolving door, or the pointy bits on that other guy's costume.
  • Wings and robot chassis must be no wider than the escalator.
  • Don't loose your cool, or anything else. Make sure everything that's part of your costume is securely fastened. Velcro and personal adhesives are a girl's best friends.
  • If you're staying in a hotel and you're going as Mystique, make sure to bring your own towels. Housekeeping will notice when the entire stack of white towels she dropped off yesterday is a thin aqua color the next day.
  • Let's have a little dignity here, folks. What looks good drawn on a 2d representation of an anime girl may or may not look so hot on a real human girl. And doubly not on a 30-something male.

Whew! This going to conventions seems like a lot of hard work. On top of all of this, make sure you remember to have fun!

Scott Ransoomair as Pantsman at PAX 2007 taken by Lord Moon
Naruto Booth, PAX 2007 Expo Hall taken by Lord Moon
Big Daddy statue at PAX 2007 Expo Hall taken by Lord Moon

Comments

Very good points all around! I hear some Congoers say things like "I'M NOT SLEEPING FOR THE FIRST TWO DAYS" and think "perhaps, but lets see if you remember most of that time, let alone function for the last two".

I thinkMan Fayeis a textbook case of your last point.

Don't loose your cool, or anything else. Make sure everything that's part of your costume is securely fastened. Velcro and personal adhesives are a girl's best friends.

I... I'm not sure I can whole-heartedly agree with you on that one.

Well written article, as always Momgamer! It almost makes me want to go to one of these events. But not quite.

Hand Sanitizer can go a long way towards keeping you healthy. It won't keep you germ free, but I've used it in the past when I was sick but couldn't afford to not go to work and no one at the client site or the other consultants got sick as a result. It's amazing how many germs are passed along by hand contact. I'd highly recommend carrying either a small bottle if you can or the little packets and using them before you handle any kind of food or drink.

vitamins vitamins vitamins

Ok if I get to PAX and ANYONE tries to "glomp" me they will surely die a painful death! As for Henry the Eighth.. I LOVE THAT SONG!

Cool Maneuvers reminds me of the fact that is someone says "Hey guys, watch this!" you may offer the service of being proactive and dial 91, and hover over the last key pressed.

Hah, that's great. Worth reading even if you aren't going to any cons.

Good shoes, clean hands, a decent backpack that isn't overloaded and a cell phone are all I need to survive. Nothing worse than crappy shoes on the convention floor.

I never saw any "glomping" at PAX. However, I must concede that momgamer was likely privy to weirder stuff than I witnessed.

It's not a league sport at PAX like it is at some cons, but it was there. Where it's endemic is anime conventions like Sakuracon, A-Kon, Connecticon, or Otokon. Was trying to keep things a little generic here.

The filker was at this last Sakuracon in line to get a signature from an artist. I would have put up some pictures for the last Sakuracon but I didn't have much but Red's dead Kirby that didn't involve my daughters or Dominic. I do have one of a very well done Fuu from Samurai Shamploo playing Rock Band I could have put up, I guess.

The Pirates vs Ninjas touch football and the Hulk were both at PAX, though.

momgamer wrote:

Don't get your cape caught in the intake.

Words to live by.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

I never saw any "glomping" at PAX. However, I must concede that momgamer was likely privy to weirder stuff than I witnessed.

Given the amount of strange jargon in the article, I'm going to assume she's privy to all sorts of stuff I want nothing to do with.

momgamer wrote:

The Pirates vs Ninjas touch football and the Hulk were both at PAX, though.

I don't think the latter was me, but I can't say for certain.

These conventions sound scary. Hold me.

wordsmythe wrote:

Given the amount of strange jargon in the article, I'm going to assume she's privy to all sorts of stuff I want nothing to do with. :D

The 1 Gram Club: A chemical version of Rochambeaux usually in the form of a dare within a group of friends. It's to consume 1 Gram of caffiene in an hour without actually snorting Vivarin. Yes this is extremely stupid and somewhat dangerous. If I catch you doing that I'll feed you to one of our EMT guys who is also a blackbelt. In small pieces.

Bawls: An energy drink marketed heavily at geeks in general, gamers in particular. To me it tastes like a compromise between Tab and Mountain Dew, with Tab winning on points.

Warhammer: Tabletop minatures game around in several editions and version. I played it a lot back when it was just Warhammer, but I think it's called Warhammer 40,000 now.

flux capacitor: Name of the key part in the time machine DeLorean in "Back to the Future". Implying that some of the denizens of the area might have parts glued/velcroed on in odd places at that time you may or may not recognize.

Pocky: The food of champions, especially in anime terms. It's a thin stick of cookie dipped in a coating sort of like frosting. Comes in a myriad of flavors, and also an inside out version where they've managed to fill a thin tube of cookie with the frosting. Delicious, but has no redeeming nutritional value whatsoever. You'd be healthier eating the box.

Ramune: A soda imported from Hong Kong in a glass bottle with a glass bead sealing it shut. Getting the thing open without wearing it is half the fun. If it wasn't for the bottle it'd be a forgettable knockoff of 7-up or Strawberry Ne-Hi.

Queque Frogs: Australian version of "line jumper", made famous by a PAX Enforcer named Macca. He flies in every year just to volunteer.

Mystique: Navy blue bad girl on the X-men. I know someone who actually moulded the silicon parts and did a decent fake on the paint job and went as her for a cosplay contest. It didn't win but it came out really well. She had the shape for it. She also paid $40+ in damaged towel fees when she checked out of her hotel. Ditto for someone else I know who sprayed his hair red for an Axel from Kingdom Hearts II, only he ended up with pink smears on the ones he used.

Did I miss any?

Ah, Con time. Yay~! I liked the article, and will make sure to have those with me for PAX. I think... If I'm going. I haven't really decided yet.

shihonage wrote:

These conventions sound scary. Hold me.

I concur. I went to a Trek con once and I have never been to anything since. Right now Lollapalooza or Austin City Limits are taking precedence above PAX or any other summer con.

momgamer wrote:

The 1 Gram Club: A chemical version of Rochambeaux usually in the form of a dare within a group of friends. It's to consume 1 Gram of caffiene in an hour without actually snorting Vivarin. Yes this is extremely stupid and somewhat dangerous. If I catch you doing that I'll feed you to one of our EMT guys who is also a blackbelt. In small pieces.

This used to be popular with coke heads in high school. One kid started loosing vision after having a redline. Its just stupid. Good call.

momgamer wrote:

Ramune: A soda imported from Hong Kong in a glass bottle with a glass bead sealing it shut. Getting the thing open without wearing it is half the fun. If it wasn't for the bottle it'd be a forgettable knockoff of 7-up or Strawberry Ne-Hi.

It tastes like bubblegum soda. Also, its delicious with vodka. And it is waaaayyyy to sweet.

momgamer wrote:

I know someone who actually moulded the silicon parts and did a decent fake on the paint job and went as her for a cosplay contest. It didn't win but it came out really well. She had the shape for it.

This thread useless without pics!

I'm so happy for myself that I didnt even get half of what this article was about.

Perhaps part of my problem is that anime, like music, started getting worse to me around 2001.

If anybody wants to listen to Soundgarden and watch Evangelion, you know where to find me.

Don't forget your trusty bottle of Advil... Before bed, 3 glasses of water, two advil and a piece of bread, helps with hangovers, sore feet, hydration etc....

That is very good advice, Mitts. I have another article I wrong long ago about packing for one of these; maybe I should pull it out of mothballs and see how relevent.

wordsmythe wrote:

Perhaps part of my problem is that anime, like music, started getting worse to me around 2001.

If anybody wants to listen to Soundgarden and watch Evangelion, you know where to find me.

Uhhh.... Chicago?

My daughters are having a friend over tonight and they've got a Full Metal Alchemist and/or Escaflowne marathon planned. Saints and ministers of grace defend me. At least they're taking a break from One Piece.

momgamer wrote:

My daughters are having a friend over tonight and they've got a Full Metal Alchemist and/or Escaflowne marathon planned. Saints and ministers of grace defend me. At least they're taking a break from One Piece.

XD Nice. The should watch Ouran instead. But seriously, at least it's FMA and not like... Sousei no Aquarion. That would be hard to explain.

Thanks momgamer! I feel much more confident going to the first convention of my life, coming up- Comic con '08.

San Diego? Way to jump in with both feet. That thing is huge.

Wear sturdy shoes, and double up on the zinc tablets and vitamin C. That's a metric bunchteen of people you're going to be roaming around with.

And pictures (please NOT Man Faye or any of it's ilk) would be a great thing, if you could post them.

I wrote an article for my school newspaper about SailorMan and Man Faye. Everyone loved it. And I had a picture of SailorMan as proof that I wasn't crazy. It was great.