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.
- 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!"
- 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!