Category: Conventions

Hey Erica, What Have You Been Up To?

Wow, I haven’t posted here in forever! But, ’tis the CON season, and I was at Fargo CoreCon last weekend.

Erica and Brenda get horny with a priest.
Erica and Brenda get horny with a priest.
I got to wear on of my favorite outfits.
I got to wear one of my favorite outfits.
I danced with some Jack O' Lanterns (thanks for the pic Debi).
I danced with some Jack O’ Lanterns (thanks for the pic Debi).
And with Mistryl Shimmy Guard (MSG - bringing the flava!)
And with Mistryl Shimmy Guard (MSG – bringing the flava!)
There was a Furry Parade!
There was a Furry Parade!
And a marriage proposal (under duress? Darth Vader is, like, right there).
And a marriage proposal (under duress? Darth Vader is, like, right there).
Spiderman and Spider Gwen made it all the way from San Diego
Spiderman and Spider Gwen made it all the way from San Diego
And then this thing happened
And then this thing happened
But was defeated by this thing
But was defeated by this thing
And there was some comedy
And there was some comedy
And then we all had a nice nap.
And then we all had a nice nap.

Also Voltaire was there, which was really cool but I didn’t get any good pics. Same with Christopher Mihm, who did some great panels. Love his movies. The end. See y’all at CONvergence!

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CONvergence 2012 Highlights

Finn and Jake meet Fionna and Cake!

What a busy month! Kicking things off for July we went to CONvergence 2012 in Bloomington, MN. Super fun as always! In the above picture Finn (don’t know this guy, but he was a good sport) and me as Fionna from Adventure Time. This turned out to be a surprisingly popular costume as I had several people ask to take my picture and also ask me “what time is it?” Also, while I was walking back to the CON from the DQ across the parking lot I heard some guy yelling “Finn! I love you Finn!” and I realized he was yelling to me! I think that was a first. Since I talk about crafts and costumes on this blog, here’s my costume breakdown: Shorts, tights and shirt are all from JCPenney; hat from Etsy.com (I had to add some wires because the ears were too floppy, and sewed in blond doll hair because my hair is dark red/brown); shoes are Sketchers; Backpack and Cake made by me. It was really challenging making a round backpack, but I found that if I approach it like I would sew the shoulder of a sleeve it really helped a lot. Cake is one of my best creations. She’s just a huge feltie. I’ve had some practice with these, and I fashioned her from a picture I found online. I have to say though, I like how this guy made his Jake, because it was a lot less bulky and hot, I’m sure.

So on the subject of costumes, while at the CON I purchased a new corset, hat and sparkly scarf and wore it all on Saturday. This did not culminate in the costume I anticipated due to a very thick crocheted top and a large, yummy meal at India Palace on Saturday. So, what am I? Futuristic saloon girl? I don’t know. The skirt is from a thrift store and the boots by Lane Bryant.

Uncategorizable

I think we managed to get into almost all of the party rooms.

Par-tay!

Friday I think our big highlight was making it to the Jews In Space party room in time for the Shabbat blessing and matzo ball soup. Good stuff. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of Optimus Prime wearing his tallit. We also really enjoyed the Ochaya tea room, partly because it was comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, but also largely because we like to say that Paul has the T-virus.

The Ochaya

We also went to the Worship The Goddess room so that Paul could worship me, of course. We met a satyr there. He was cheeky.

Worship the Goddess
Cheeky Satyr

The Ghostbusters 911 room was pretty impressive with all of their gear, although I don’t remember the uniforms being this sexy.

Gonna bust some sexy ghosts!
Vigo and Paul

And of course we couldn’t miss the Burlesque show at Stand Up Records! They even had Boylesque by the Goblin Prince.

Jessica Rabbit
The Goblin Prince gets ready for the ball

My favorite of course would be Smiling Lune bellydance. Hourly shows all night Friday and Saturday!

Not your mama’s bellydance!

There were loads of fun costumes too:

Cap and the chorus girls
The Tardis
Dancing Robot
The two Moiras – they didn’t even know each other but showed up to the American Horror Story panel!
Jawa and Sandperson doing Yoga

And toward the end we all sort of felt like this guy:

Too much partying

So a fun time was had by all, and we can’t wait until next year, when the theme is the British Invasion. I’ll have to come up with a really good costume in my spare time.

BONUS – Test your geek cred:

  • Who is Optimus Prime?
  • What is the T-Virus in reference to?
  • What is a Tardis?

If you know the answers to these questions you should go to the CON next year. If you don’t, you should also go to the CON next year because it’s super fun anyway!

 

CoreCon 2012: Hosting a Con Suite

Boy howdy, have we ever been busy lately! Too busy to blog, apparently, but I will start making up for that now.

Karen with Jezebel and the Whore of Babylon
Karen with Jezebel and the Whore of Babylon

CoreCon 2012 was the second year of the KEEP con suite. If you are unfamiliar with fan conventions a con suite (or hospitality or party suite) is basically a party room, usually with a theme, that is open to the attendees of the convention. It may be hosted by the convention itself, or by fans who just want to throw a party.

The KEEP consists of Karen, Eric, Erica (me), and Paul. This year, in following with the apocalypse theme, we decorated sort of like a fallout shelter/ossuary for the general room layout. Friday was “Puppets of the Apocalypse,” which included a puppet stage and 3 different puppet shows, each running twice. Saturday was “Doomsday Cinema.” If you are considering running a con/hospitality/party suite here are some things to think about, and how we dealt with them:

The KEEP
The KEEP

Decoration: We used Scene Setters wall coverings this year, which we attached to the wall with blue painters’ tape. We also had a gas mask and warning posters for that special extra touch. That part was not too complicated or expensive.
When planning for decorations consider how you will attach them to the walls. Do not use anything that will damage wallpaper or leave holes in the walls or ceiling. You are liable for any damages. Also, be aware of any impediments like smoke alarms, a/c unit, pictures that won’t come off the wall. You can’t cover smoke detectors or sprinklers.

Activities/Entertainment: Friday night was the puppet show, which also sort of falls under the “decor” category. We were able to borrow a puppet stage from the library, used a backdrop stand to help support it and hung up muslin left over from last year’s circus tent theme as a curtain. Saturday night we removed the puppet stage and set up a movie screen in its place, running apocalypse-themed films.
When planning for activities and entertainment think about if this is something you would like to see or do yourself, and if it would keep you in the room.

Refreshments: We had Kool-Aid, candy, and homemade cookies.
When planning for food and drink consider what is practical and if you have the necessary facilities to pull it off. You will probably be lucky to get a mini fridge and microwave in the room. You may not be allowed to have hot plates. Find out ahead of time. Typically plan to have a serving for every expected attendee of the convention. Yep, that’s a lot. Some people will not show up, and others may take seconds. It should even out. Chocolate goes fast.

New things we learned this year:

  • People love puppets. I was really surprised to find we had a full house for all six shows. Rock on.
  • People are less interested in homemade cookies than we expected. We thought we’d be bribing people with the cookies in hopes they would stay for the show. It was the other way around.
The cast of KDINO
The cast of KDINO

We did a panel at CoreCon 2012 on this subject, and I would like to say a big THANKS to Karen for writing the outline, and to House, Carrie and Kim for contributing. The following comes from that panel.

Top tips for preparation:

  • Plan way ahead.
  • Decide on your theme.
  • Find out what kind of space you are working with (talk to the con chair) and what is available – chairs, tables, etc. See if you can get room dimensions.
  • Find out what the Con expects/requires from you.
  • Determine who you can actually count on to help before, during and after the con. Plan for breaks for everyone involved.
  • Figure out your budget. If it will be extravagant consider spreading the cost out over the course of many months.
  • Look at all of your resources. What do you have around your home or work that already fits into your theme? Do any members of your group have talents for sewing, designing, building, etc that you can use?
  • Determine how you will transport and store decorations and props, before and after the con. Will it fit through the door?
  • Decide if you will have commerce (selling stuff) in your room. At some cons this is prohibited, and there may be tax codes or health codes to deal with. I am personally biased against commerce because I think of it as a party for your 500 closest friends, not a business opportunity. That being said, if you are selling something akin to a meal, I can’t really fault you for wanting to cover some of your expenses. Use your best judgement.
  • Decide if you will have alcohol. YOU CANNOT CHARGE FOR ALCOHOL. And I wouldn’t recommend selling cups and then “giving away” the alcohol. You, not the con, are responsible for checking IDs and badges so be prepared for that. Giving alcohol to a minor is a big deal. Plus it is expensive. But it is also a party and will get more traffic in your room, so choose wisely.
  • Test all recipes ahead of time.
  • If possible, practice set up and tear down, and a run-through of any activities.
  • Design an ad and fliers.
  • Consider drawings or prizes.
  • Consider a tip jar. You won’t make your money back, but it’s worth a shot.
  • Make a checklist of every single little thing you will need, like remote controls, batteries, lights, napkins, cups, serving utensils, doorstop, etc.
  • Make sure you know the check-in and check-out times of the hotel.

Top tips at the con:

  • Get in as early as possible.
  • Be aware of badges. Non con-goers should not be in your room. Check all IDs if you have alcohol.
  • If you have food and drink consider getting self-adhesive painter’s plastic for the floor. It has paid for itself in our suite for sure! As I said earlier, you are liable for any damages to the room. We bought ours at Lowe’s, but I can’t find it on the web site. It’s in the flooring section.
  • Make sure to schedule breaks for everyone involved so you don’t miss the rest of the con, and you can check out all the other excellent suites!
  • Get a contact for security in case you have any trouble, and do it BEFORE you open up the room.

On a personal note:

  • Don’t take it personally if you don’t get much traffic. Some days are good, some aren’t.  Maybe nobody was in the mood, or another suite stole your thunder. It happens.
  • Taking into account the above, do this for yourself first and foremost. If nobody else shows up at least you will have fun.
  • Be realistic about how much time you actually have to dedicate to this project, both before and during the con. When we started out with the puppet show idea we were talking about doing a different show every half-hour all night. Eventually we got real and only did hourly shows that lasted about 5-6 minutes. Don’t burn yourself out.
  • As I said earlier, this is not a money making venture. We figured we spent around $700 amongst the four of us over the course of the year leading up to CoreCon 2012. Much of that expense was for things that we would have bought eventually anyway (portable movie screen, for instance). We had to pay for the room, decorations, food and drink. We also have a lot of puppets left over that we may never use again, and we had a prize drawing each night Friday and Saturday. We got $6 in tips. You do NOT have to spend a crapload of money on a suite! You just have to get creative.

Even though it was a lot of work we had a blast this year, and we won second place for our suite! That means we get a full-page ad in next year’s program! Now we have to figure out how to top this year’s success in 2013. I’m sure we’ll sort something out in our spare time.

Fionna and her Furry Friends
Fionna and her Furry Friends

Props to Puppets by Margie for our custom-made puppets! If you have any questions or suggestions please put them in the comments.

Hosting a Con Suite

After Decor
After decor, view 1
Before, view 1
Before decor

I’ve been trying to get some inspiration for running a con suite, hospitality suite, whatever you want to call it, for CoreCon 2012, but with little luck. When I Google these keywords I don’t get many useful hits. So in the interest of community service I’m going to blog about the suite that The KEEP put together for CoreCon 2011, in case anyone else out there is looking for ideas.

The KEEP (Karen, Eric, Erica, Paul) hosted our first ever suite this year and I think we learned a lot from the experience. And it was a total blast. We sort of went halvsies on Friday and Saturday nights. CoreCon’s theme for 2011 was “Myth and Magic.” In the spirit of this theme we chose “Tea and Tarot” for Friday. As the name implies, we served tea and did free Tarot readings. On Saturday we ran “Sword and Sorcery Sinema” which, once again, speaks for itself. Then again, after seeing Lou Ferrigno throw a bear into outer space, maybe it doesn’t.

We came up with the idea of a circus sideshow tent theme for the room decor. This required a lot of engineering. We ultimately built a rectangular frame out of 1/2 inch PVC pipe and draped it with muslin. We dyed the muslin (two 50-yard bolts) red and gold. It seemed to fit both circus and movie theatre ideas. We had originally planned to plant the upright supports in buckets filled with sand or gravel, but once we set it up another solution presented itself: we tied some supports to chairs and also used the loveseat in the room to keep everything sturdy and in place. Additional support was provided by masking tape. We had originally thought we’d drape very long lengths of muslin all the way across the top to make the room seem more tent-like, but the weight of the fabric was too much and we had to modify the plan. Half-inch PVC is very bendy. We draped two lengths diagonally across the top. I think it actually worked out really well. We also used a lot of large safety pins to keep everything in place. One of the best things we had was silicon tape, which we used to keep the pipes in place on the joints. That stuff rules! Additionally, for Friday we put posters on the wall that were printouts of vintage circus posters from circusmuseum.nl. Doing this on the cheap, I covered some foamcore boards with decorative wrapping paper (blue and gold, alternating) and then used double-sided tape to attach the 8.5 x 11 prints I’d run off with my Canon printer (which ran out of ink just as I was doing this of course!). On Saturday, Karen and Eric replaced them with movie posters. There are some really good resources online for that stuff.

Before, view 2
Before, view 2
After, view 2
After, view 2

To our surprise, we got the most compliments on our floor. At CONvergence 2010 we attended a panel about running con suites. One recommendation made was to buy self-adhesive painter’s plastic for the floor to protect against spills. As renters of the room we are responsible for paying for any damages. I think the plastic paid for itself almost immediately when, while having dinner before we opened, a slice of pizza took a dive onto the floor. Thanks to the great advice we received, it was a non-issue.

One issue we had to overcome was the shape of the room. Even when we got dimensions and a drawing we really had to check it out for ourselves. It was really a strange shape – I think it had 6 or 7 different angles, plus a small entry way. This ended up working out OK because when we made the frame a rectangle it left small alcoves we could use for private Tarot readings. On Saturday we removed one section of the frame and set up a movie screen in its place.

The CoreCon volunteers did a LOT to make our lives easier during the con. When we arrived the king size bed had already been removed. That was a huge help! Then they provided trash cans and bags and came around to empty them regularly. Less for us to worry about! We are very grateful for the support we got from CoreCon organizers.

Overall I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. The main thing I think we should do differently for next year is to have more variety of snacks. We mostly had animal crackers (circus theme) and popcorn along with our tea and Kool-Aid. I don’t think we’ll ever do alcohol. There’s just too much expense and risk involved in that. Besides, there are plenty of other rooms who already have that covered.
So next year’s Con theme is The Apocalypse. We plan on working within that theme, but are not sure where to go with it. So far our Friday plan ideas (nothing in stone here) are Thundarr’s Cabaret, or The Atomic Church of Vectron. The main problem here is that the only things I know how to do in terms of entertaining others are bellydancing and Tarot reading. Thundarr’s Cabaret would require us to recruit a number of other reliable people.
Any suggestions? Lay them on me!