When I woke up in the morning the sleep ninjas known as the Cadavers were already out and about. I don’t know how they did it. I’m a night shower person during the con because I need to wash the people and sweat off before I can rest comfortably. By the time I’d get out of the shower they would be out like lights. Meanwhile, I’m feeling good and clean so have to read for an hour before I can fully unwind. Since they didn’t go to sleep that much earlier than me they shouldn’t have been getting up that much earlier than me. Or been like normal people and slept as late as humanly possible because they could. Not the sleep ninjas though. They’d be out the door before I even woke up. And if I did happen to hear them it was only as the door shut on their way out. Then I was instantly asleep again. Like, did I even have roommates? Actually they were the very best kind of roommates there could be.
When I eventually roused myself (which makes it sound like I slept until noon. Really, I was out the hotel doors by noon) it was so that I could get ready for our Classic Video Game Hall of Fame panel at the American Sci-Fi Classics track room. This year was different because Dave dropped out of it completely. That left me to not only prepare and do everything for the panel, but also to host it. As this was my first time doing more than being on a panel I was nervous. The fact that normal panelist, Salena Balls, wasn’t attending con this year was sad too, but Rebeccah Wood filled in perfectly. We had a good premise, and everyone was well prepared for The Sound and Music. We were having a showdown of the best in classic (meaning more than 10 years old) video game music, sound effects, and voice acting. Normally we pick one topic, and go in three rounds. The audience picks their faves from each round to move on to a final showdown, and one audience pick (as well as a special selection from Joe Crowe) goes in as well. We then let the audience choose the ultimate champion. I got ahead of myself and tried to do something different this year. It was the same thing we did for our virtual panel last year where we had 4 or 5 categories, and I had several Dragon Con related Facebook groups decide the winners. What I didn’t take into account was how much longer talking to the audience would take, or how some people would try to take control away. Well, really just one guy. I’ve never seen anyone try to railroad Dave at his own panels before so I was unprepared for this older man to walk in and plop down in the front row and start telling me he could join us onstage or I could give him a microphone. Yikes! I was nice but firm. If anything I was probably too nice in general. There has to be a balance between getting the audience involved, and letting them take over. I do, at least, know part of the reason I lost control. Talking to the audience in between every round was very time consuming. I love that so many people are passionate about video games. I could talk about them all day, but at the end of the day getting 5 stars on the app isn’t worth letting a panel we worked so hard on descend into chaos. So yes, next year back to normal. The audience can get all their picks in at the end like we used to do. I did appreciate the mouthy jerk for owning himself though. He got onto us for not choosing the best theme song ever, and proceeded to play the title song from the first Mortal Kombat movie. I didn’t want to laugh in his face (I really did, but was playing the nice host) so thank you Ryan for calling him out and laughing for me.
Once that was done we got some lunch in the suddenly crowded food court. Guess everyone who couldn’t get Saturday passes went for Sunday instead. It still wasn’t any worse than a normal con Friday. Then we kind of bummed around, and I thought it might be a good idea to take a nap since we were planning on staying out for the Late Night Puppet Slam. I guess it seems like I spent a lot of time sleeping this year. Honestly, it was better than 2019 when I spent a lot of time trying to sleep. But other than Saturday it wasn’t excessive. There were no massive hangovers to sleep off or anything. It was just that I went into this year putting very few absolutes on my schedule. It’s also why I didn’t want to be on a lot of panels. There was so much uncertainty and anxiety that I figured a light schedule would be the easiest way to control my anxiety. Also, right up until the week prior I wasn’t 100% sure Dragon Con was really happening. I figured it was, but so much has been up in the air this year that by the time I really felt like this was really happening it was a little late to be adding anything else to my schedule. So I had planned on just hanging out, going with the flow, and getting back in to the swing of being around a very large group of people. The only convention I got to go to in 2020 was Days of the Dead, and not only is it small, it also isn’t as fun as it used to be. I got 6 to 7 hours of sleep every night, but masks really do seem to suck the moisture right out of your body during extended wear. Rehydrating and taking breaks (that may or may not include a nap) are the only way to keep yourself functional. And with so much added stress going in to this year I felt like if I needed the mental break of a nap the best thing for me was to go with it. I did something right because I felt pretty darn good all weekend. I didn’t get to do everything or see everyone I wanted to, but that’s every year so that part felt no different. That was the goal after all. To make this year feel as normal as we possibly could while protecting ourselves and others. I think we did pretty damn well.
Enough sentiment. I woke up from my nap just in time to get down to Meehan’s for dinner with my con buddies. The other plus of a nap, they waited in line for a table, and I got just walk right in. Then we watched the Masquerade on DCTV before setting out on one last people watching session at the Marriott. Little did we know that the Puppet Slam would reach capacity before we could get there. Disappointed, but understanding, we went out for more wanders. But by 2am I was ready to call it a con. While others went off towards more adventures or one last video game I went to pack up and pack it in. There was a Thrawn panel Monday at 1, but I’d already checked out of the hotel, and didn’t want to keep my luggage with me so I just figured Ryan would give me the details later. I do hate that I missed all the Star Wars stuff I wanted to see, but Chris Claremont was on my “must” list this year, and I got that accomplished so I’m happy. Overall it was a different Dragon Con, but one I’m happy with. And after the last 18 months it was needed and very much appreciated.
I may pop back up again to post more about Dragon Con. It won’t count towards the official coverage I have to turn in, but I usually have lots to say about things. I’m a little opinionated like that. Either way, it was fun getting back to this writing thing again. I’ll probably see you all again soon for Spooky Season. In the meantime, be sure to check out Execute Chapter 66 wherever you get your podcasts. Schweck met Timothy Zahn, and he gives you all the Star Wars info I missed at Dragon Con.