November 20th-27th 2009 in Stevens Point, WI
It's been a while since I did a full text write up convention report. I've gotten lazy and done videos for the last couple of years, and frankly... it's turned me into more of a videographer than an attendee. Initially I packed my camera, and had it in my bag the entire convention... but I left it in the hotel room. Why? Because I decided to stop documenting and return to experiencing.
I'm glad I did.
So, this time around, I've returned to an old medium to communicate my experience: text. And since I did not take any pictures, I've decided to illustrate this write up with the next best thing...
...Terrible, terrible art. Why? Because I'm awesome. And in case you forgot what I look like when I draw these things:
And from here we begin on my trip to Daisho Con 2009.
Sadly I had to work on Friday, and didn't get off of work until 5:00pm. Everyone else from the No Brand Con
group I was going with (as I am No Brand Con's Director of Development) had left by the time I was done, so I was going to drive alone in my little hatch back. When I finished work, I stopped by home, packed, put Executron in the passenger seat, kissed Crysta goodbye (as she had a lot of work to get done that weekend and couldn't come with), and hit the road for Stevens Point by 6pm. Google Maps told me the trip would take three hours, and since I hadn't driven there since last year's Daisho Con, I believed it.
Google Maps is a god d@!ned liar.
Only two hours later I was surprised to find myself in the parking lot of the Stevens Point Ramada. This was a good surprised though, so I took it in stride. From there I quickly made my way to registration.
No, I didn't actually try to scam my way into Daisho Con -- I paid my (exceptionally cheap) registration fee of $20 like everybody else without complaint. After registering, I made my way to the rooms that No Brand Con was using for it's room party. I helped set up the room by hanging lights, and Paul (aka "The Herald") helped me unload the food for the party from my car.
Before the party started at 10pm, I walked around the conspace again, and caught up with Pink Ranger. I hadn't seen her for a while, so it was nice to get to talk to her. I probably ran into quite a few other people that I'm forgetting about in this time period too, but mostly it's a blur.
When the party started, I hung out for a while. One of the Kitsune Kon
staffers (whose name I have totally forgotten, and for that I'm sorry) stopped by and had a chat with me. I, apparently, am the guy people starting a new convention want to talk to it turns out... but since I co-founded No Brand Con, and being our liaison to other conventions is part of my job right now, I shouldn't be surprised. I talked with her for a while, and then she headed out. I decided I wanted to walk around the convention for a while around 11:00pm or so, and headed out into the big world. As I left the room though, I ended up running into another
Kitsune Kon staffer, a guy whose name escapes me as well sadly, and we sat down at a table by the viewing rooms and chatted for a while.
That hallway by the way is the perfect location for random conversations.
Other people stopped by here and there including some fellow No Brand Con staffers, and eventually Yushi stopped by the table with long time No Brand attendees Erik Lervold and Mike (who is not to be confused with No Brand Con/Geek.kon staffer Mike... so we'll call Attendee Mike "Pretty Boy Mike" from now on). Apparently they were invited to go hang out with voice actor Travis Willingham in his hotel room, but were going to go smoke first. Pretty Boy Mike had apparently almost accidentally picked a fight with Mr. Willingham, and in the process of almost beating each other found that the two got along quite well. Yushi asked if any of us wanted to come with. Randomly, I decided to join them. Laura, one of our newer staffers, also decided to come.
While hanging out outside with Yushi, Lervold, Laura and Pretty Boy Mike, Mike explained the story of his almost fight at least twice. Needless to say, he'd had a few things to drink at this point, and was quite verbose about the whole thing. I stopped by the men's room on the way to Travis Willingham's room, and Pretty Boy Mike followed me in.
And then that's when this happened:
From that point on, Pretty Boy Mike would not stop talking about Henry Rollins this, Henry Rollins that... and then he remembered the song Henry Rollins did with William Shatner... and he started yelling "I CAN'T GET BEHIND THAT!" every five minutes.
You can imagine how annoying that got. I love the kid, but he's got some impulse control issues.
We got up to Travis's room, where a bunch of people were hanging out -- about half of which I knew, including No Brand Con/Geek.kon Staffer Mike (this is why I felt the need to clarify the Mikes earlier). I spent a lot of time actually talking to Lervold, who has been coming to No Brand Con for quite some time and we have a lot of mutual friends, but for some unfathomable reason I've never had a conversation with before. I also briefly slipped out to call Crysta and say good night to her at one point.
Both Mikes, one of the Geek.kon Staffers Yushi and I have renamed Chris, Yushi, Laura, Lervold, and I headed outside with Travis so some of them could smoke after a while. Pretty Boy Mike and Travis re-enacted their almost-fight (and pretty much showed why Pretty Boy Mike needs to pay attention to what people are ACTUALLY saying to him and not what he THINKS people are saying to him).
After stopping back up at Travis's room, we eventually decided to call it a night around 4am or so. Laura, Yushi and I headed back to the No Brand Con rooms in hopes of finding open spaces to crash. When we got to the room, we discovered one of the beds was still open, so Laura opted for the floor while Yushi and I took the bed.
I should have totally chosen the floor.
Yushi snored, randomly elbowed me, and at one point really did try to spoon me in his sleep. Combined with a pinch of insomnia, I found myself unable to sleep. I managed to get about two and a half hours of combined sleep... but after a while I found myself unable to rest. I decided to give up, get up, shower, and just get out of the room altogether.
I walked around the convention center in all of it's early morning emptiness. I ran into Cheesus who informed me there was a McDonalds near by when I mentioned I was hungry. The entire area was covered in fog, but I decided to just go search it out. Visibility was almost nonexistent, so I decided to just go drive in what I thought was a logical direction.
I was wrong.
I went very far out of my way in the fog before turning around. I headed back to the hotel, and tried the OTHER logical looking path... and I found the place in just a few moments and felt rather dumb.
When I got back to con, I went to the Video Game room and played a bit of Rock Band with former-No Brand Con vendor head LeisureCat and a few other people. After a while I got up, and let Langland jump in. I headed back to the No Brand Con sleeping rooms and found that people were finally waking up. I grabbed a few sodas from the previous night's room party, and went back out into the convention.
Yeah... that happens a lot at these things. I should point out now, if you don't already know, that I get recognized a lot at conventions held around Wisconsin. Because I'm one of No Brand Con's public faces (and spend most of it on stage), people who percolate around the con scene usually know who I am. When I go places like Daisho Con, I also end up talking to a lot of people. The problem is, I am terrible with faces. They fall right out of my head. And on the chance I DO remember who you are on sight, I'm even WORSE with names. Thus, I spend a good chunk of conventions smiling, nodding, and desperately trying to figure out where I know people from.
I decided to head to a panel about how to "Find Money To Fund Conventions," which was being held Saturday morning. I had hoped that it would be about funding RUNNING conventions, but sadly it turned out to be about funding GOING to conventions. Next time I promise I'll actually read the panel description, seriously.
I must not have been the only person who thought that, because some Odyssey Con
staffers and the guy putting together NakamaCon
both came as well. The panel was actually enjoyable though, so I'm glad I went. Afterwards, the OddCon guys, the NakamaCon Guy and I all ended up talking about the current state of conventions, and afterwards the NakamaCon Guy and I decided to get lunch together.
At this point you've probably figured out I can't remember his name for the life of me...
...because I am Trae, and I am terrible with names.
We went to McDonalds because it was close by, and ran into No Brand Staffers Yushi and Kurtz. We sat down, discussed his upcoming convention, and ate. He has never run an anime convention before (coming from a media con and scifi con background), and wanted to pick our brains. Afterwards, we headed back to the convention center, and I hit the dealer room to talk to a few of the vendors who usually go to No Brand Con.
Yes, I admit it, I end up spending half my time at conventions talking about other conventions. It's what I do.
Yes. I did that. That's a real moment. Guys and girls, I think Kingdom Hearts is a good game too, but I've seen some of you wear the same Kingdom Hearts costumes for years and it has to stop
I tried to nap at several points during the day, but failed miserably. I was just doomed to not sleeping at all that weekend it seemed. Eventually, I got up. I ended up talking with SeanOrange in the artist alley (and tried my best to help him sell a Famicom Dojo
DVD). But the night was rolling on, and I needed to grab a few things from my car before the cosplay contest.
I grabbed my Gardening Ninja costume.
Now, for the whole three people who might read this write up and NOT know what that is, the Gardening Ninja is one of the supporting mascot characters I play for No Brand Con. I wear that costume when I co-host the No Brand Con cosplay contest, and I had a plan.
See, the night before I had told Nick Izumi (the guy who runs and cohosts the Daisho Con cosplay contest) that I was going to crash the cosplay contest in full costume. I also warned their Con Director Spittin' Wheelie that this might happen too. I was, of course, joking. I had no intention of actually interrupting anything.
But torturing Nick Izumi is just too much fun.
So I decided to get into full costume, and sit to the side of the stage where Nick would see me, in my mask and with my rake, all contest. The psychological torture was ready to begin!
The actual cosplay contest was quite entertaining, if brief, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Nick was cohosting it with a young-woman who named Sydney who I was convinced I hadn't met before... but I'll get back to that later.
After all of the cosplayers had crossed the stage, Nick asked if the judges were ready. I thought "Wow, that would be bizarrely fast, did they prejudge everything?" Apparently though I was not the only one who thought this was way too fast -- as the judges apparently needed much more time.
This meant they didn't have anything planned. This meant there were no plans to spoil... and I had already warned Nick I might do something and he didn't ask me not to
when I warned him...
This meant Trae could meddle.
I won't go into too much detail, but I got myself on stage, and repeatedly fake killed Nick. I also got myself off stage before it was time to announce winners. I got to get on stage, make an ass out of myself, and I didn't ruin anyone's plans.
And I got to pretend to repeatedly kill Nick Izumi.
After the cosplay contest, I checked to make sure the No Brand Con room party was getting put together correctly. It was taken care of, and I decided to wander around. I ended up hanging out with different groups of people throughout the night, from Gundam Cowboy and No Brand Con Co-President "Tall" Katie to Pretty Boy Mike and Lervold. On my way outside to call Crysta and say good night to her, I witnessed a few moments of a couple of Insane Clown Posse fans trying to pick a fight with Pretty Boy Mike and Lervold. I'll let them tell that story though -- and if you run into them at a convention, you should definitely have them tell you about it.
I was feeling tired, so after hanging out with Pretty Boy Mike and Lervold for a bit, I went back towards my room but ended up running into some Geek.kon people. I always like hanging out with them, so I sat down for a bit until I started to fall asleep in my chair. It was only 2:00am or so, but I decided to call it a night. We had to check out the next day, and I had a panel in the morning. I went back to the No Brand Con sleeping room and crashed.
I woke up fairly early, as did Tall Katie. My panel was set to end at the same time that we needed to check out, and because we needed to switch the rooms to my credit card I had to be there. We figured out that I should leave my panel five minutes early (I was one of four panelists), and I went to hunt down food.
I was hungry.
After eating, I got back to the room and packed up my stuff once everyone had woken up. I also helped take down the decorations we had placed on Friday night. After loading my car, I went back in to get ready for the "Con Veterans Panel." Okay, so that isn't what it was officially called, but that's because someone changed the name on us. Who? We don't know. Either way, it was what named what it was named.
On the panel with me was 1stAgent
, Cheesus, and the aforementioned Sydney who had cohosted the cosplay contest.
The Panel mostly consisted of us telling funny stories from our years of attending conventions. I had the most experience, with about 15 years worth of cons under my belt... which was slightly more than twice as much as any other panelist. I'm also older than the other people, except Cheesus, so that comes into play as well.
It was on this panel that I realized, embarrassingly enough, that I had
met Sydney before. I'd seen her at quite a few cons, just never out of her Axel costume. This cracked me up to no end.
At the end of the panel, I got over to the front desk where Tall Katie and I checked us out of the room. Afterward Katie ran off to a panel she wanted to attend, and I ended up hanging out with a mix of No Brand and Geek.kon staffers in the hallway.
That is a great hallway. Daisho Con, kudos for picking a hotel with an awesome conversation hallway.
We ended up talking about convention culture and half a dozen other things. What started as Sarah from Geek.kon, Yushi and myself snowballed into a good sized group, and most of us went out to Perkins for lunch.
When lunch was done, the Geek.kon people headed out as they had a meeting that night, and the rest of us headed back to the hotel. I spent the afternoon hanging out, and attended the Daisho Con closing ceremonies.
I want to take this opportunity to mention that the Stevie Musashi costume they've made for their mascot is epic. I mean, it's just great. I mean, sure, he's no Duct Tape Boy
, but it's still pretty great.
After closing ceremonies I still hung out for a while and talked with some people (as I was trying to charge my cell phone... that building hates my cell phone for the record), and eventually decided I needed to head out as I was exhausted.
I had to try every trick I knew to stay awake during the drive home, but I made it.
Yes, that actually happened.
So, in the end, Daisho Con was awesome. I repeatedly will say that Daisho Con is tied with Geek.kon as my favorite convention that I don't run. The staff did an excellent job, and I fully intend to return next year.
...just warning you is all.