Sunday, September 21, 2003

Get Your Con On

Holy hell was this a good weekend. Eleven art books, eleven CDs, and twenty-two figures later, it's all over. Since I didn't make it to Vegas this summer, the con was my substitute. Sure, it was no true weekend in Vegas, but unlike trips to Vegas, at least I didn't come back empty handed. Far from it; the prodigal son has tons of cool shit to show for the money dropped at these tables.

Day One: Friday
Fuck, what the hell happened on Friday? This was two days ago, and I can barely remember it. Despite all the money spent, only a handful of dollars were spent on beer, so that's not why I can't remember it.

Oh, yeah.

Things got fired up fairly early. Ended up at the hotel/convention center around 3, and got in line. While in line, I started taking in all the cosplayers, plenty of which would be seen all weekend long. Star Trek conventions had long since made me weary of people who dress up for cons. As such, I had been mentally preparing myself for quite awhile for the anime costume people. It was pretty much what I expected; some cool ones, some not so cool ones, lots of ones that would have been cool had the right person been wearing them, and some people who just should not have been dressing up in that outfit.

Speaking of outfits, I was naturally one of the best-dressed there, at least for us losers in street clothes. For some reason, I am more comfortable in clothes that are usually too dressy for others. Not a suit and tie all the time, but let's just say that I don't own a pair of jeans. Anyway, I'm dressed in my business casual, and everyone else is dressed like a normal person. Great, even amongst the freaks, I'm a freak. Thankfully, a couple of friends showed up, who were also well-dressed. Strength in numbers.

Once registered, priority one was to hit the dealer's room. I actually circled a few times before leaving without buying anything. That empty-handed feeling was not something I would be getting used to. I went and talked with someone, and he asked if I had bought anything yet. I said nope, but he was like "Well, better get stuff before someone else buys it." Fucker.

Shopping was pretty much the name of the game for the rest of the evening. Er, weekend. Although there were no "must haves" (something on the order of Perfect Asuka), there was naturally plenty of shit I wanted to buy. There unfortunately wasn't anything really special or unique - just lots and lots of shit that I had been ogling online but hadn't bought yet.

The only other thing I can remember was the art and model show, which was way less cool than it should have been. There were some cool dusty Lego ships someone had made, and a cool Mahoro resin statue and a decent Lain. Otherwise, it was mostly a bunch of ADV Monthly-worthy fan art. Oh, there was the row of Cowboy Bebop sketches, which were fucking sweet until we realized that they were actual production sketches. The fact that they were done by the real Bebop artists and not just some regular schmuck with talent kinda took all the fun out of it.

The weekend's video viewings were pretty much set at this point, in that we weren't going to actually view any anime in the video rooms at the con. Everything was either a shitty dub, something I had already seen, something in just Japanese, or something I could give less than a shit about seeing.

The only thing I didn't do that I should have was go hit the video game room to play some DOA: Xtreme Barbie Doll Dressup. That might have been fun, but I haven't played in weeks. I would have just gotten pissed that there weren't any cute shoes to buy, anyway.

Friday's shopping started what would become my nightmare for the weekend. One booth was selling these figures of characters from Shounen Ace Magazine. I made the mistake of noticing that one of the characters you could get was Narue, the main character from Narue no Sekai, this irresistibly cute anime series that was airing in Japan a couple of months ago that I (obviously) just loved. I have seen next to nothing related to Narue for sale, so I just fucking had to have her. There were seven figures available in the series, but of fucking course, you didn't know what character was in any particular box. Pretty much just a bullshit grab bag tactic to get shitloads of money out of people. And shitloads they did, but more on that later.

You know what? No copies of Megami anywhere to be found. God damn it. Why the fuck is it that only four gaijin have heard of this magazine, and two of them are willing to pay $100 for a back-issue?

After all that, a stuffed pizza and a beer at Old Chicago, then back home to open and tally up the day's loot.

End Day One

Day Two: Saturday
On Saturday I was actually up and at the con by like 10:30 or so. It's usually amazing enough to have me up at 10:30 on a Saturday, nonetheless to have me dressed and someplace besides home. Regardless, there was shopping to be done and assistance to be lended to those working their asses off.

Naturally, a sizable amount of time was spent in the dealer's room. That just couldn't be avoided. More of the same was purchased, including those bloody Shounen Ace figures. I ended up bringing my tally up to four, I think, but no Narue.

We were tapped to help out with the music video competition, which went fairly well. Pencils and ballots, pencils and ballots. And if you could bring back the pencil afterwards... That'd be great.

Watching the actual videos was fun, even though I'd seen most of them like five times each. I think there was one that I hadn't seen before, but that was OK, because the videos shown were mostly pretty good. Even the X video, despite the fact that I'm not really into wispy guy shows. Naturally, there was the beyond amazing Excel pop-up video. Oh yes, and a mountain of cocaine... Tons of cocaine.

After the AMV showing, more shopping, and a time out for food. Then, back for more shopping before the big event of the evening, the costume/cosplay competition.

"Helping out" started out with con director bitch telling us not to help. Some shit about cooking. Anyway, after awhile, the competition got underway, and it was time to go into action. I guess.

For us non-staff staff members, our main job was escorting cos[tume|play] groups from the staging room to the main events room, which involved traversing the winding corridors of the hotel. Well, "winding" is a little harsh, since it wasn't all that bad.

I have this huge phobia of always doing something to embarrass myself. Usually I'm afraid I'll fuck something really simple up, like walking. Or getting lost following a path that will require all of 4 turns. Don't ask why I'm so afraid of embarrassing myself, but it's one of the things that keeps me from wanting to go out places and meet people.

In addition to just being nervous for no reason for having to do something trivial like escort people around someplace that's not the Inferno, the first group involved me having to push someone in a wheelchair. Again, this is not a complex task, especially for someone over the age of five. I'm just thinking "please don't kill this person," which of course wasn't going to happen. Okay, except maybe on the part of the course that was a decline. I'm not a big guy, and it wasn't totally trivial to keep a human being bigger than me who was on wheels from getting away from me. In the end, no manslaughter charges were brought.

Naturally, I managed to survive the wheelchair and all the human interaction. And like fucking always, it wasn't so awful, and was actually fun. Except this one fucking kid. This kid who was dressed like Zell, called himself "Sparky," and was a moron. Some people found affection for this kid; I didn't. I could just totally tell that all the hyperactivity and acting out was just a plea for attention. You know the type; acting all "zany" in a horribly contrived and forced manner. Makes me want to kick myself in the nuts just so my screaming will drown out whatever the fucker is saying. Okay, not really, I like "the boys" way more than that. They should be kicking me for the lack of action I've shown them, but I'm digressing.

Anyway, this kid's cosplay group was also the biggest pain in the ass out of anyone ever. They're of course nervous about performing, which I can understand, but then there's all this fucking bitching along with it. Yes, I am bitching about others bitching. The pot is calling the kettle black. Anyway, it was one thing after another while we were waiting. "Do you know how uncomfortable these shoes are?" "How much time will we have? Will ours be too long?" "I can't hold this much longer... I have a bad arm" "I need to go to the bathroom." Jesus fucking christ, I was suddently running a daycare. Then, I don't know how many times I had to explain to them that I couldn't fucking take them to main events yet, because the last person hadn't returned yet. Based on how things were being timed, I wasn't to lead them down until the group in front of them was onstage, an event which was signalled to me by that group's runner coming back. That, however, failed to sink in.

I was glad to get rid of that group. Although after being with them for aall that time, I started to feel a special bond with them, like they were my kids. My whining, impatient, weak-limbed, obnoxious, pain in the ass kids.

Once that was over, I discovered the nightmare that was Pocky. Some volunteer kid bought some strawberry Pocky, then decided he didn't want the rest after eating a stick or two. For some reason, once I started eating them, I couldn't stop. The fucked up thing was, I realized they didn't even taste all that good. I just knew that I had to have more.

So, we sat around for awhile, me hopped up on Pocky and bullshitting with the goofy kid who discarded said Pocky. I don't know why, but sometimes when goofy people are around, I can just feed off that and start rambling off a whole bunch of odd shit, and last night was no exception. I'm sure being high on that bloody Pocky wasn't helping matters.

After some more standing and sitting around, and another full box of that goddamn strawberry Pocky, there was the "Bride of Fetish" panel, which was initially steered in the right direction with a suggestion to discuss "youthful" girls in anime. Since most of the audience people active in the discussion were morons, that broke down fairly quickly. There were some amusing comments made, but I just wanted to hear more talk about schoolgirls.

Speaking of schoolgirls, I was hoping all weekend to see a really cute girl in one of those sailor outfits. It didn't happen. There were some OK, and some not so OK, but no "wow...." moments. Damn. So much for the "finding a hottie at the convention" goal for the week. The other goals were to "go carte blanche on buying shit" and "get a job." No sailor schoolgirl hottie, but shit was bought, and maybe I'll get to manage that pro team after all. Two out of three ain't bad, but we'll see.

Speaking of women, as promised, there were some there. More than some, there was a decent mix. However, most of them were pretty much what you'd expect at an anime con, since "attractive women don't need escapism," according to someone who (believe it or not) isn't me. There were a few running aound who were decently attractive, but again, no "must have" Perfect Asukas.

One great result of shopping on Saturday was that we proved that time really is money. What's the exchange rate? Well, if operating at peak efficiency, about $13.33 a minute.

Imaginary TV show theme lyric of the day? "Single Female Lawyer... Having lots of sex."

No pizza and beer after this night, mainly because we ended up getting out of there well after midnight. Fortunately, we were in a college town, and there was an IHOP nearby.

End Day Two

Day Three: Sunday
I woke up after like four and a half hours of sleep, and wasn't feeling super. At first I thought maybe it was because I didn't get much sleep, then I thought I had a shopping hangover. Then I remembered all the Pocky from the night before.

Day three was pretty much already set as a "tying up loose ends day." It ended up being a "blow a bunch of fucking money to get Narue" day.

I bought four more of those fucking things at first, and still no Narue. God fucking damn it. I was ready to give up, but I'm sure you can guess how long that lasted. I realized that I was suddenly collecting baseball cards again. More specifically, I was going in and out of Willie's Dugout at the Pueblo Mall, buying one pack of Upper Deck 1989 at a time for like $5 a piece in the hopes that I would score the elusive and expensive Ken Griffey Junior rookie card. Well, I got Griffey's rookie from those efforts, and I got Narue from today's. After buying thirteen of the fucking things. I also got the thigh-high girl, so that made me happy. Wait, except for the fact that I should have fucking had her before that, instead of four Kurumis. Look, Kurumi is adorable, but I don't need four of her. Time for eBay.

I realized that this truly was a Vegas substitute, because I was essentially gambling with these damn figures. However, each $8 purchase at least got me a worthless piece of plastic, which is more than I can say for most Vegas outings. Oh, and the figures are all good quality and really cute, so they're not worthless. Especially the frog girl.

It was like I was at Cheetah's, because I was fucking out of control. However, once I had my $8/$104 holy grail (depending on how you want to look at it), I was finally satisfied. About the only things I held off on not getting were a Love Hina art book and some Hitler manga. Umm, I think that Hitler thing might need some explanation. At one of the booths, I came across these books entitled Adolf. Apparently, it's the telling of WWII through the eyes of three guys named Adolf, one of whom (is "whom" the right word to use there?) is Hitler. When I saw this, I was like "Wow, this is just so fucked up that I might have to get it." Well, apparently it wasn't quite fucked up enough, but I think I'll get ahold of at least one book someday to check it out.

End Day Three

So yeah, good con. Spent some money, had lots of fun. I'm sure I look like a fucking braggart talking about the money I spent, but I'm really not trying to be an asshole. For once. No, the whole point of this post is mostly just for the amusement of anyone who was there with me, because most likely no one else will give a shit. Apparently, my shopping vice is amusing to others, as I had spectators on wave 7. That's how sick I am; I am a professional.

Yup, had lots of fun, even with all the stuff I complained about, since, well, few things are as much fun as those that eventually give me something to bitch about. And yes, there were plenty of things that I didn't end up complaining about that were fun in their own right. Didn't really meet any new and interesting people, and as you know, failed to land myself a girlfriend despite my non-efforts (and, well, non-selection... because, yeah, that's been the problem all these years). The only people I talked to were either morons or people I knew already. But that's OK, because it was like the best fucking weekend in awhile (which will tell you how my weekends tend to go).

Here's to hoping I wasn't too much of a pain in the ass to the people doing real work there at the con, as opposed to my simple tasks which of course I drama queen to epic proportions. I kept getting asked if I'd be back next year to work as "real" staff, but it's more like is anyone going to want the cranky misanthrope around to be utilized in interfacing with people? Okay, I'm actually decent when it comes down to interacting with others. I don't treat people like shit to their face automatically, and usually don't at all unless they've done something that really warrants it. Otherwise, I just talk about them behind their back, like a real man.

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