2012 DragonCon Fun Fest final act

Because nothing says Happy Dance like the dance that comes from destroying a bit of cultural detritus.

So...DragonCon. Like most years, it descended upon Atlanta and our lives like one of those motherships out of V. And like most years, our sense of time and place was devoured just like Diana from V snacking on a guinea pig.

The strangeness of that pair of similes is testament to the slow road to recovery that all DragonCon survivors feel. Just for the record.

Other members of Need Coffee might have different stories to share, but here's mine:

We started with Make the Bad Men Stop, our traditional opening panel held at Leigh's X-Track. The podcast version is forthcoming, but suffice to say we spent a great deal of time talking about Marvel movies, DC movies, plus a bit about The Dark Tower among other things. As I warned the audience, Need Coffee panels meander from topic to topic until guidance comes in the form of input from the audience. And if you're thinking that perhaps our regular podcasts could use such influence, remember that these audience comments form suggestions. Our chaos cannot be reliably channeled.

Then I did a live reading that afternoon--barely making it in the door after running the final bit of shuttling in preparation of the Fun Fest. Debuted a new short story and read one at the Con for the first time, and basically just paraded a bit of morbid whimsy around. Among the topics were shape-changing rabbits, cockroach cultists and islands that come and go as they seemingly please. Had a great audience and I'm grateful to all of them for showing up. Since I don't do stagework anymore, reading has become one of my outlets. My therapist says it's harmless, too.

Then it was Fun Fest time. Our third year of bringing games to the people of DragonCon, along with Fabulous Prizes. Big thanks to Real Deal Brazil, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, Comedy Central, Random House, Paramount, Brain Toniq, Yamato Toys, and many others for sending us things to throw at people. Some amazing things happened: we saw a musical performance by a group of people so young they neither knew the theme to Sesame Street nor how to hum; we saw a choreographed yet spontaneous dance routine during Dysfunctional Family Feud; we also saw an entire room of people go apeshit in response to having food launched at them. Memories I will carry with me for all time. And we somehow survived.

Our Eardrum Wasteland panel for the Apocalypse Rising track, starring the cast of The Sound Board, went quite well, as we went all up and down the musical dial, tackling eschatological tunes from classical music all the way up to the present day. In between laying out what would be the most awesome end of the world boxed set in history, we delved (no, really) a bit into the evolution of apocalyptic music in general. Yes, we actually educated in a panel and didn't make people cry. It was a new experience.

Unnamable VHS

We went straight from there to the Brit Media room for our BritPop panel, joined by official Tuffley wrangler Kim and official foreigner Aaron Poole. Once we had established the jurisdiction of the panel (don't worry about spoilers for the podcast version--we didn't really) what followed was a lively and diverse bit of chat about the state of the union of British music. Rob pointed out the panel has been going for a decade now, which is enough to make anyone feel old. Except Aaron.

Following that was a panel for "Lovecraft at the Movies" that I participated in. The most startling revelation there was that somebody actually really enjoyed The Unnamable. And then later, a panel on the films of Stephen King, in which, among other things, we briefly touched upon Children of the Corn XVI through XXXVIII. Maximum Overdrive was most definitely the elephant in the room but it was addressed in due course.

Later, Need Coffee took the wheel of yet another panel and addressed British Crime Shows in the Brit Media track, tackling everything from the beginning of the genre to demanding that everyone watch Luther to addressing the kindler, gentler, slightly sillier side of things with Midsomer Murders. Panelists included Doc Ezra, Rox, Tuffley and Cosette. Interesting points were raised about American vs. British entries in the genre, especially the bit about repercussions and the role of victims in the plot of shows. Bonus: Rox critiqued various villains from the shows in a detailed Powerpoint presentation showing where they went wrong.

On Sunday, I moderated a panel about 2012 featuring an astrophysicist, a rep from the CDC (the real one, not the fake one), a horror author and Bad Astronomer Phil Plait. Various and sundry fake potential ends for the world were discussed as well as bath salt zombies. But in all seriousness, they covered pretty much everything from rogue planets to killer viruses to black holes to supervolcanos...and somebody did ask a question about actual threats to life and limb. Phil brought up one of my personal favorites--the false vacuum collapse--and then proceeded to counter it with a reason why he thinks it won't happen. Which was nice.

From there, we tackled the Whoniverse panel and the room collectively decided not to discuss the first episode of Season 7, since it inconveniently premiered that same weekend and everybody was so busy Being at Con they hadn't had a chance to watch it. We spent a lot of time talking about the problematic use of companions in the series and I got a room full of dirty looks when I laid down my argument for why Season 6 didn't work for me. Oh well. We also touched on the audios, Torchwood and classic Who...but most of the time was spent on the recent series. And Rob hinted around a lot of 50th Anniversary stuff.

Solve This Live: Jon Boutelle, JJ Hawkins, Aaron Poole and Rox of Spazhouse

L to R: Jon Boutelle, JJ Hawkins, some guy, Aaron Poole, Rox of Spazhouse

And then it was off to the first ever live recording--with an audience--of Solve This. I admit I was a little nervous as to how the whole thing was going to play out, but in the end I managed to do what I always do and stay out of the way so that Jon Boutelle, JJ Hawkins, Aaron and Rox could go nuts and be hilarious. Which they were. The audience was into it and even the people who admitted up front that they had no idea what they hell they had showed up for enjoyed themselves. That'll be going up as part of Series 2 and I wish to hell there was a way we could record a live one before next year. So much fun.

Reichenpoole Fall

Closed out Sunday with a massive Sherlock panel. While I stated that we could talk about any version we wished, we stuck to the new BBC version pretty closely. Damn near everybody was on this panel and though we were legion the audience was huge. And juggling the questions coming from the audience just proved why the staff of Need Coffee keep me around--because somebody has to moderate the chaos and they're too smart to do so. Seriously. But the panel was great--lots of discussion about theories and scheduling, capped off with Aaron demonstrating--with the help of a Molly from the audience--the "Reichenpoole Fall."

And then Monday we ended with another round of Make the Bad Men Stop. Again, we had a full house and we discussed remakes, movies based on board games, Blade Runner, Highlander and I tried to defend Ryan Reynolds against being labeled The Next Nic Cage. I don't know that I was very successful. As always, we ended DragonCon on a note of regret, sadness, recrimination and cries for revenge against Hollywood, which is exactly like we like it.

And throughout all of this, we had the first issue of the zine that Rox and Rob produced, Derelict, going batshit crazy. More on that later. We had The Night of the Thousand Fistbumps. We had Zombie Fred Rogers. It was Epic.

Thanks to everybody who came out to see us this year. As I was saying on Facebook earlier, there is a veritable crapton of choices of stuff to see and do each year--and five-plus hotels to see them in--so the fact that so many of you choose to come hang out with us is a great compliment which everybody here appreciates. And of course, my extended Need Coffee Family (along with the army of Unique Geekers who show up and pitch in like you wouldn't believe) is the reason we can do events like this and they're the reason we're a bigger success year after year. Already thinking about how to be bigger, badder and smarter for next year. So stay tuned. And seriously: thanks.