So, I just started doing this Drawing of the Day thing where I was doing a drawing based on the word of the day as posted by either reference.com or Webster’s. I did four of them and stopped. I haven’t given up, but I had a thought.
First off, doing something daily is a bit hard and actually detracts from my ability to do other things. Also, some of the words of the day are just odd to think of alone. It’s just a word with a definition, no direction, and what I wanted was actually a bit more of a directed exercise.
You see, I can always sit down and just make shit up. My problem has always been that when I return later to the work from the “make shit up” session, I find it hard to continue the work. So, what I’m really looking for is more like the writing prompts you can find all over the place where they give you a subject and a direction and you are supposed to write on it. But with drawing.
To that end, I’m changing the project from Drawing of the Day to something like A Picture is Worth a Week of Words. Instead of using just a single word, I’m going to take seven words, still using the reference.com and Webster’s sources (I’ll choose all 7 from one source, and either I’ll do one, the other or both), and I’m going to do a drawing. I may also do some writing to go with it. They’ll go up on Sundays and use the words from the previous week (Sunday to Saturday).
I’m excited. I was excited before but quickly became drained. This less intensive version should be exciting without the exhaustion.
I owned J.L. Bourne’s Day by Day Armageddon for quite a while before I read it. In addition to being a slow(ish) reader, I have a pile of books, a three shelf bookcase actually, of books waiting to be read, so sometimes books wait. After plowing through DBDA in March of this year, I picked up the sequel, Beyond Exile, which I just finished last night.
Both of these books are excellent. Written in the style of a personal journal, we follow the story of an unnamed Naval Officer as he notes his thoughts and experiences in a world quickly becoming overrun by zombies. Personally, I thought the journal style worked very well, the only drawback being that since things are always written after the fact, you know that no matter what is being written about the author has to survive or else he wouldn’t have written it down. This journal style, however, is also one of the complaints many people have about the books, so you have to know about it going in. They claim things like “I just read a guy’s personal diary and I didn’t learn anything about them.” I have to wonder if they’ve ever read anyone’s personal journals that weren’t fictionalized. Most journals, especially those started by men later in life (not as kids) tend more toward facts and what happened, and are not full of emotions and internal dialog about how they feel. Think of it less as a diary and more of an After Action Report by a military officer and it’ll probably work better for you.
Another common complaint on zombie stories is they seem to have a “right wing slant”. And while these critics might have a point, when flesh eating zombies spring up, who is more likely to have a gun ready to shoot them in the head, an NRA member with a right leaning political view or a liberal gun control supporter? Similarly, why are the survivors always military or people with training? I think that’s a question that answers itself. I mean, I go to Dragon*Con every year, and when I go to panels about apocalyptic themes I know every person in that room thinks they are going to be victorious if the zeds should ever start walking, but realistically most of them wouldn’t last a week, and probably not more than a day.
Anyway… back to the tales at hand. I found both stories to be very entertaining and engaging. I especially enjoyed the use of slower shambling zombies and opposed to having them all running and jumping and stuff. I highly recommend both books, and I believe there will be a third next year. The second book takes a turn at the end that I’m interested to see where J.L. Bourne goes with it.
Day Four is done, and the con has drawn to a close. The MMORPG Track’s final panels ran smooth, and it was great to have about forty people come by to tell us what we did right and wrong and looking forward toward next year at the Post MMOrtem.
Today, the day after, is about sleep and unpacking and staying off my feet as much as possible.
This year was my first on staff with Dragon*Con and the MMORPG Track, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Not only are the track staff a great bunch of folks, and it helps that I really enjoy the subject matter, but just being a part of the staff just feels great. I lost count of the number of times people asked me for help on where to find things or what was going on and I was able to help them out. (It is also a testament to my many years of attendance and that I’m a giant schedule/map memorizing nerd that I knew what to answer most of the time.) Plus, there are bonuses. Like, you know when you are walking through the tunnel and you see some people stopping to take photos even though there are signs that say not to and you can’t do much but maybe yell at them? Well, when I saw that, I just walked up, put my hand on their shoulder and said, “Hey, great costume, and you guys deserve to get photos, but you can’t do it in the tunnel. Please take it to one of the hotels on either end where there is more room.” And the best part? They listened and moved. Not once did anyone ever give me a tough time, they just said sorry, smiled and moved. Sure, a bonus like that doesn’t get you to skip lines, but it does earn you the gratitude of the dozens and dozens of people who were stuck in a slow tunnel thanks to the photo takers. It feels good to help make the con a good experience for the people who attend. I’m really looking forward to being a part of it again next year.
Well, maybe… on the last day, the wife and I got some Chinese food and I got quite possibly the best fortune ever.
click for full size version
Yep, that says I will be the President of a small country. So, I might be busy.
Day One, 8am post… Day Two, 8am post… Day Three? Not 8am. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Today I’ll be work the Guild Q & A with Vork and Zaboo and then I’m done. The track has a few nifty things for the MMO-inclined like a Global Agenda panel, EVE Online, City of Heroes, a session about guild management and more. Then of course, we have the Kingdom of Loathing party tonight, which was great last year so I’d expect it to be great again.
Now, let’s talk about Day Two… We had almost 600 people show up to see us show off Cataclysm. Then nearly 200 to hear Sandeep Parikh talk about The Legend of Neil. 180 came to hear about the best WoW Addons. At 5:30, we did the WoW Meet & Greet with fun and prizes, which I don’t have numbers for because I worked the camera instead of the door. This was such a blast, especially the dance content due to the insane guy who actually did the WoW Troll dance. Then we had over a hundred people for a second night of machinima. And then… At 10pm we opened the doors on our MMO Gathering of Heroes. I don’t have any final numbers, but I hear over 1,000 people dropped by throughout the evening. We danced. We drank. We danced some more. I stumbled back to the room around 3am. It was a great day.
It’s Thursday, where are you? If you are local to Atlanta and pre-registered for Dragon*Con, your answer should be, “Reading this on my phone from the line.” because pre-registration badge pick-up just started. Pre-regs get a nice solid 6 hour jump on everyone else this year, so hopefully that will help with the lines.
Preparation for con is always a big deal. You have to make sure you pack everything. Technically there are a few shops around, but mostly tiny stores with seriously jacked up prices. There is a Publix about 8 or 10 blocks away, but since public transit in Altanta is pretty crappy, you’ll likely be hoofing it, in September. ”Hot and humid” just doesn’t really describe Atlanta well enough. Long hikes in the city are uncomfortable at best. But in addition to packing everything, you also need it to be manageable. You don’t really want to be juggling a dozen suitcases. You’re best bet is to pack one case (with wheels) of regular clothes (shorts, t-shirts, socks, underwear and toiletries – deodorant, toothpaste, even soap and shampoo if you prefer your own over the hotel stuff), a cooler (with wheels) packed with food and stuff (don’t bring ice, all the hotels have ice machines – and unless you specified in your reservations that you had to have a fridge for medical reasons, you won’t get one, so you’ll want a cooler if you want to keep anything cold), and then a case (with wheels if possible) for costumes and stuff that can’t be packed into the regular clothes.
You might have noticed a theme there. Wheels. Trust me, lugging around heavy cases just isn’t worth it. Every year I see some poor schmuck hauling around a half dozen old no-wheel-having suitcases, or standing in line waiting for a bell hop, or leaving the cases at the front desk to have them delivered to the room at some point in the future. Meanwhile, the wife and I roll on by and head to our room. The cooler is even more awesome because of the extending handle means we can even stack a couple things on top of it (like sodas or a box of extra snacks) with ease.
And of course, if you plan to buy anything, make sure you have a way to take it home. (If you aren’t local, there are, I believe, a FedEx and some other shipping store in the hotels or close to the con, and don’t worry about them being closed for the holiday, most of the time you can leave a package with your hotel with shipping instructions and a tip and they’ll send it off for you on Tuesday.)
Anyway… enough about packing… you might be wondering, “If the con begins on Friday, what is there to do on Thursday?” Well, lots actually. Plenty of fan groups will have unofficial gatherings on Thursday night (this is why you should find the sites/forums for the various tracks and fans groups, and keep up with them throughout the year), and there are a few bands playing. Plus, the lobbies and hotel bars will be hopping with people, both out of costume and in.
What will I be doing on Thursday? Well, for one, since I’m staff this year, the MMO Track is having a little party where the director lays down the law, people can swap shifts and we can let our hair down a little more than we’ll be allowed to during the con itself (not to say we won’t be enjoying the con, but staff is expect to not show up for shifts completely plastered). Check out our schedule from this nice rundown provided by Krystalle over at Massively. I’ll be wandering around the hotels pretty much all day, though when not with the MMO crew (or perhaps even with them) I tend to be in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis, not only because it is the hotel I’m staying at, but, in my opinion, it is the best hotel for seeing and being seen. Perhaps I’ll see you around…
Just as aside… in previous years, I posted at the end of the day with what I did. This year I’ll be posting in the morning with my plans for the day and my reflections on the previous day.
Skipped last week because, oddly, nothing opened on New Year’s Day… anyway, onward!
Youth in Revolt:
Just as I’m getting tired of seeing Michael Cera play Michael Cera over and over, it looks like he finally decided to take a project which might prove he can act. Sort of. As Nick, he’s Michael Cera as usual. But from the bits you can see in the trailer, when he’s Francois he’s actually not Michael Cera. The movie looks entertaining, but as surprised as I am to see him acting, I’m not about to drop money at box office prices for another Michael Cera film. I’ll see you on DVD, Michael Cera. Perhaps I should revise this review, because I don’t think I said Michael Cera enough. Michael Cera.
Amy Adams in a romantic comedy about two people who are wrong for each other turning out to be right for each other. The wife deserves a date night every now and then, and I can use it as an excuse to feed my addiction to chick flicks. Yeah, I’m in.
It is really nice to see someone do something interesting with vampires now and then. Hush, you Twilight fanatics… vampires who sparkle like diamonds in sunlight are many things, but interesting is not one of them. Now, Daybreakers, on the other hand, takes us to a world where vampires run everything, and they hunted humans down nearly to extinction. One vampire is looking for a way to make high quality synthetic blood to save his race. But a group of humans have stumbled on something else: a cure. In addition to just sounding cool, the movie looks cool, and it’s got Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe, all of whom I enjoy watching work. I think this followed by The Book of Eli next week are going to be a nice one-two punch of awesome at the theater. I’ll be there.
I recommend, if you come to Con, plan at least one morning to eat breakfast at Sear, one of the restaurants in the Marriott. Yes, its expensive at $22 for the breakfast buffet, but it is the best buffet ever. Worth every penny, in my opinion.
And what does one do after a hearty breakfast? Why, you watch a post-apocalyptic movie, that’s what! 20 Years After is about people living in a world after nuclear war. Its not a big action film and it doesn’t have mutants or zombies or anything. Just people, some who are crazy, trying to get by. It wasn’t a great film, but for a low budget indie film, it was pretty good. The Q&A with the guys who made it was decent too.
The best thing in the world about Star Wars trivia… is the heckling and sarcasm.
The best thing in the world about the Masquerade, the Con’s big costume contest… is the heckling and sarcasm.
And again, one of the things that makes the Con, are the parties. A few years back, a friend, Wade, couldn’t make the Con, so a hand and rod puppet of him was made to attend in his place. Puppet Wade was very popular with the ladies. This year, Puppet Wade made a comeback. He donned a pirate hat and a condom patch, and he was again popular with the ladies. The Pirate Party was great, as was the wandering around and meeting strangers.
A better day of panels… I got to see SOE demonstrate FreeRealms, which, in the simplest terms, is Puzzle Pirates on steroids and crossing genres. It definitely is something I am going to look into, and at the price (free), why not?
Force of Arms, a mechanized armor fighting MMO being built on the Multiverse system, has a lot of potential. However, right now, potential seems to be what it has the most of, and everything about the actual game play seems to not be nailed down just yet.
On the other hand, Champions Online, looks like it is going to be City of Heroes squared… at least. The two gents who showed off the game left me feeling really good about this one.
I took some time to go through the dealers’ and exhibitors’ halls… and it was pretty much the same. The same dealers with the same stuff for sale, the same exhibitors with the same products. Oh, there were some new items here and there, but nothing really to blow one’s shirt up.
And then the nightlife began.
The planned events by the Con were fairly normal… and like normal they were hum-drum. The Colonial Fleet party for Battlestar Galactica was alright, with it’s 80′s soundtrack… it got better when some of the cast showed up. The Shindig for Firefly was boring. But later in the evening, the BSG fans had a party of their own on the 10th floor of the Marriott, and those cats know how to throw down.
Yeah, the day is for panels, but the night belongs to the parties… its what the Con is all about. It would be a shame if they ever tried to move to a convention center and lost the hotel party nightlife.