Pictures will be comming whenever it is that I own a scanner, a ways down the road. Don't hold your breath. Until then, enjoy my documentary of the trip, written partially while this event was happening, and partially soon after with help from diary entries.
Amazing. Sometimes, I think I have no luck and other times, I seem to lead a charmed life. Such was the story of A-Kon XII. I overcame. I oversaw. I ruled. Pure and simple.
Rise and shine… waaaay too early. Because of an unfortunate coincidence, my friend Scott’s car is out of commission, and I was up the night before trying to get us seats on a bus to get to Dallas, as well as trying to make sure we had someplace to stay when we got there, due to some last minute plan changes. We end up staying with my friend Rayven who lives near Dallas, and off we go.
(I sat next to a really cool girl on the way, by the by. She was going up to Alaska to work in the fish canneries! What an adventure!)
I had thought we’d be hanging out at her place for most of the day and had packed accordingly. I never expect her to offer to bring us to work with her. All she had said was that she worked at this place called “GameWorks” at the mall. I was thinking some kind of small little gamming store and thought something along the lines of “Well, we’ll hang out in the food court or something and talk for awhile and I can get some writing done”. Whoo boy… Turns out that “GameWorks” is this HUGE arcade where you don’t use quarters, you put credits on a card and stick the card into the machine- or pay for a certain amount of time where you can play anything you want. Rayven hands Scott and I two cards, each for two hours of unlimited play, and sends us off. We eat, then talk with her awhile, then hit the arcade for the first two hours. I have never played more racing games in my entire life! I almost got decent at it… almost. I suck at driving games. I play some new fangled version of “Gauntlet” and sort of get to relive my childhood a little.
Back at Rayven’s house, I make sure everything’s all together for the convention in the morning, say a brief apology to my feet, my face, and my hair for what I will be putting them through the next two days, and fall asleep.
I’m having some weird dream about trying to find Rayven a costume and suggesting she go as someone from Love Hina (which is funny, cause I’ve never seen it!) and then I hear music. Pretty music. Utena music. UTENA MUSIC! I’m out of bed in a flash as my mind remembers what today is! I get my makeup on (ick… I always break out when I wear it) while the other two shower, then I attack my hair. 30 minutes and several loud curse words later, my hair is in a braid on my head and curls and I’m well on my way to looking like Nanami Kiryuu. Of course… there’s always a bow. Always. And this bow is a pain in the ass and a half. Luckily, Rayven does a marvelous job with the pins, and we go to get her friend Jake. We make a pit stop at Kohl’s to get him a shirt- which I KNOW is going to put us in the registration rush, but I can’t get them to understand this.
Sure enough, we’re in a line about a mile and a half long to register. (Again, it’s a long story why we weren’t pre-registered. But that’s not important.) It’s hot and we’re still kinda cranky from being asleep, but soon we’re in- with our little badges and all. Not two minutes in the door, someone stops to take a picture of me- and my shoes!!!- and says she’s putting it on a website. Should have gotten her name, but I was too elated at having someone take my picture. I’m an actor- I love attention.
There were some incredible costumes on some people. An amazing Vivi, a sexy female Kuja, a cuuuute Garnet/Zidane couple (She really looked like Garnet!!!), a great Chichiri and of course, Ashton (more on him later). Others abounded, of course, but I can’t remember them now.
And then… I saw the table. There, in big letters, was a name. A very good name. And I realized that despite all the effort and all the running around, this convention would be well worth my time. P.N. Elrod was a guest. (if you haven’t heard of her, stop reading this and go get a copy of either “I, Strahd” or “Bloodlist” Read that, then continue reading this) Scott and I squeal about this for a moment (well, I squeal and Scott sort of stands there looking at me funny) and then we amble up and down the artists area for awhile, figuring the dealer’s room will be full. I see a picture of Utena and Anthy done Powerpuff Girl style and Rayven and I squeal over it for awhile. We talk to the artist and I look though her art and decide I like it very much. But I try not to impulse buy anything, so we wander off to our first panel- which happens to be with P.N. Elrod.
Let me tell you, this woman is a genius. She is one of the few writers who I truly admire, as well as read and enjoy. She’s just fun to be around and listen to and she seems like such a real person. I mean, it’s both “just a job” for her and a passion- but she doesn’t have an ego about either. The panel is informative and intimate- the room is tiny and not all the seats are full. We basically just sit around and chat with her and Lee Martindale (I think?) about writing for an hour.
By this time, we’re really damn hungry, so we try to eat in the hotel restaurant. I need to try to get seen by the nameless costume judges still, so I leave Rayven and her friend Jake in the restaurant and go back upstairs and just wander around for awhile. When I return, they have JUST gotten their food. The service there was terrible- it’s obvious that the waiters were used to business people, not Otaku. Seeing this, I straightened up, and used my acting skills to their greatest capacity. For a short moment, I was not at an anime convention and I certainly wasn’t wearing a black and yellow dress with big orange bows. I was the daughter of some Senator who wasn’t used to being treated this way. I caught a waiter’s eye and gave him a rather haughty “Give me service or I’ll have you removed, because I have that kind of power” look. He took our order and our food came out shortly. Well… kind of shortly. It worked quite nicely. We finished eating and then decided that since we had some time to kill, so we thought we’d find the anime music video room early and get good seats. (insert hysterical, post-con laughter here)
And thus began the great Anime Music Video Fiasco. The short version of the story is that we had the wrong room, but didn’t know it, and missed half the videos there. The good news is that I still happened to see ALL of the winners in the short time I was there! (Including Lee Thompson’s video <3 - more on that later) After that, Rayven was tired and since she’s our driver, we leave. I missed a couple of good panels because of that, but I didn’t realize how exhausted I was until we got back, so it’s probably good I left when I did.
On the way out, I saw a guy dressed as Ashton from Star Ocean, complete with dragons. I’d been saving up my fan-girlness all day- trying to refrain from making high pitched noises and glomping things. Poor boy got the brunt of this. I literally SQUEELED when I saw him (earlier uses of the word squeeled are figurative) and rushed over to get a picture. You NEVER see people dressed as people from Star Ocean and I was soooo exicted! I love Ashton. It’s a pity you can’t get him and Opera, cause they’re my two favorites. But after that, we left, and I fell asleep on the car ride home and only woke up briefly to eat and shower before falling into bed.
Saturday ...the big one.
Remembering the order of events on this day is somewhat difficult. I know we overslept, but still made it in time for the panels. For whatever reason, I don’t have a schedule for this day, so I’m guessing on order here.
We wake up late and I fight with my hair and make-up, which doesn’t fight back, which is suprising. I got ready very quickly, but we’re still running late, and it’s one of those mornings where you just can’t seem to get out of the house.
We get to the Con late and I’m a little peeved- especially when we can’t find parking. My feet hurt and I’m hot, but Rayven’s in a much better mood than yesterday, and it’s Saturday- which is always the big day. We walk for what seems like forever from our parking spot to the Westin hotel but my mind is on “Saiko and Lavender” which I’d bought late Friday before we left. I want more! And I have a great idea for a commissioned art piece from the artist, Diana X. Sprinkle, who’s art is as whimsical and fun as her name. She’s got my sense of humor. So I buy some more of than, ask about her drawing me a piece, and then we head to the first panel- another writing session with P.N Elrod, Martindale and others. It’s just as wonderful as the first.
We hang out for awhile, then head to a session on making Music Videos. It’s led by… (drumroll please!) Kestrel!!! She’s made four out of five of my favorite music videos and her videos introduced me to October Project, which is one of my favorite bands now. I got to talk to her afterwards and she was very nice and talked to me for quite awhile, even though she must have been busy. Great session, and so nice of her to have a little packet for us to take with us to help understand later!
Two un-Kestrel/music video things happened in this panel though. We were sitting in the back so we could kind of half stand to see the music video samples, and people kept opening and closing the door- making all kinds of noise and generally being very rude. It was the first time I had ever been angry at fellow otaku during a con. While I sat there trying to pick out some of Kestrel’s words over the noise from behind me, from behind and to the left, I got a glimpse of a flash of grey.
Flashback to the last A-kon: I was wandering around, like a wide-eyed kid at a candy store, admiring my first ever con. I was marveling at all the stuff, and ogling people’s costumes, wishing I could do that, when I saw him… Seifer. No, seriously. For all that my rational mind knew that Seifer is a fictional character, after all the costumes I had seen, for a moment, I really though it *was* Seifer. Then, of course, I realized it was just a really attractive guy in a Seifer costume. I wanted a picture. I wanted a hug. I wanted… I don’t know. To talk to him… something- anything. I’m not quite sure what about him struck me, but something did. I managed to stammer out a “nice costume” at some point, but that was about it.
Flashback to the anime music videos (still last year): I had just seen “Hungry Like the Wolf” which I had reguarded as excellent. I can recall thinking that whoever had made that video was surely a genius. I also saw the coolest FF8 video set to “At The Beginning”.
Flashback to me at my computer (after con, last year): I was looking for some info on A-kon XII on the site when I decided to go on an image hunt for cosplay stuff. Thus, I found some diary of A-kon written by some “Lostboy” guy. And then it all came together. The wonderful account of A-kon was written by none other than the guy in the Seifer costume- who ALSO happened to be the creator of BOTH of my favorite videos. I was floored.
Back to A-kon XII:
So I see this flash of grey from the corner of my eye and I turn to look, my eyes following the movement. And there he is. And for a moment, again, all I can see is Seifer. And then, the image resolves itself into a fellow anime lover who I just happen to like very muchly. I cheer silently that I’ll get to talk to him later on, but he leaves before the session is over. As mentioned before, I talk to Kestrel and then leave. We wander around some more- no sign of that familiar grey trenchcoat- then go to eat at Bennihana’s. The food’s great and they seat us with some other A-kon people- one of whom happens to be a middle-eastern dancer in the Austin area, so maybe someone knows her, or I’ll run into her again!
We finish eating, I apply fresh band-aids to my feet, who thank me in between cussing me out and screaming, and we head over to the Sheraton to see which anime music videos won the contest.
This was a big deal to both me and Rayven- to see the awards and the videos that won- but apparently, it’s not a big deal to a lot of people. I think we may have been the only people at the awards who didn’t have videos in them. It was still great fun to see the winners, though, and a great experience for both of us because we want to enter next year with something. But let me back up. We walked in the door, and as we did… flash of grey! Seifer dude! Seifer dude with empty seats beside him! Cool! I smoothly manuver my way into sitting two chairs away while making it look like it wasn’t anything. (if you’re reading this, Lee, I’m not stalking you, I just think you’re really damn cool, okay?) We watch the awards and I finally get a name to put with the face- Lee Thompson. He wins “Best Technical” (or something like that… I’m bad with remembering the titles of things) and rightfully so. The video was just as cool as “Hungry Like the Wolf”. The judges favorite was an amazing video of Shamanic Princess to “Master of the Wind”. I want to see the anime now! It was sooo beautiful!
Afterwards, I got to talk to Lee for a little bit and got a picture of him holding his awards and as Seifer. I don’t know whether he was flattered or annoyed- seemed a little of both- but I didn’t really care. P.N. Elrod, Kestrel, and now getting to chat with “Lostboy” already made the day worthwhile for me- and it was only about 5 in the afternoon. We still had the cosplay and a Vampire Live Action game to go to. Or… maybe not… Cosplay lines were already forming and if we wanted characters for the LARP, we needed to go over to the Westin right then. So we gave up on the cosplay (didn’t look like we’d get in anyway) and went for the LARP. I ended up with a Malkavian who thought she was Wonder Woman- which seemed quite silly to me, but was also fun. Four of us thought we were super-heros, but two of them were drunk as sin when they got there. The other guy, who was playing the Flash, was really awesome, though. We played off each other most of the night, and he was great to game with. I probably wouldn’t play the LARP next year- it was okay, but since playing Phillip’s game, my standards are higher- but I’d do it if I got to play alongside him again, he was great! We tried to go to a dance afterwards, but there were just too many people and we were too tired. So we headed home to get some rest.
Some random stuff during the day- Vivi costumes ROCK! And I really wonder how people usually treat people who want to get pictures of them. Everyone I took pictures of was really nice to me about it, but the few people who took pictures of me seemed to be almost… gushing… about how nice I was to them. People just caught me when I wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere, I guess. I stood around and talked to one little group for awhile and they seemed quite exicted. I felt like a celebrity. J
Ick. Sunday. At least I didn’t have to do my hair.
I don’t like the last day of a trip, or a con. Not at all. We overslept again and missed the one panel I wanted to go to, but I was too excited about the previous day’s adventures to care. We made it there, though, and the dealer’s room wasn’t crammed full of people, so we looked around for awhile. I snagged a Trieze pin, a Laguna keychain and a sheet of stickers for Teresa, who couldn’t come. I also won a small art piece in the auction, and found a very appropriate bumpersticker for the trip- “Anime. Drugs Would Be Cheaper”. I also picked up the next two issues of “Saiko and Lavender” and got an autograph from P.N. Elrod… who I now seem to keep calling “Pat” (her first name). We ran into Nick, another friend, who tagged along with us for awhile, but there really wasn’t anything left for us to do, so we headed out to go eat.
We found a TGIF’s near the bus station and ate. Then we just sat around and talked about the weekend for an hour while waiting for it to be time to go get on the bus. In the process, we came up with some great music video ideas, and we came up with one FANTASTIC comic idea. We’ll see if any of them turn out.
Then Scott and I went to board the bus and Rayven headed back home. There were delays and then they put us on the wrong bus and we had to get off and then back on another bus, and were over an hour late getting back. But we got to sit next to each other instead of strangers, so it was okay, in the end.
All in all, I'd say it wasn't the most fun I've had in my life-- there were bad parts and frustrating parts in with the good, obviously, but it was definetly one of my great adventures that I will be telling my grandchildren someday.