Stories From The Con

“Hey, look the Toyota sigil,” our boy says while we are standing in the advance ticket line that stretches to the horizon.

Fifteen minutes later, we are standing at the front door.

“I smell popcorn,” he says as we enter the snake like cue to turn our printed out tickets into a red wristband allowing us to enter and exit the con as we like

Ten feet later we are surrounded by people, this would affectionably be known as crowded, oh how we would learn what a crowd really looked like the next day. In front of us a sticker booth with Spongebob stickers. Yes, I was the first to go “Ooohh” and completely destroy our plans to walk the con first. In my defense the stickers were cool.

As a family we had two shopping goals, a few new posters, and comic books. You would think finding comic books at a giant comic con would be easy. Not if you are me and not if you didn’t feel like dealing with people who are collectors, as opposed to me who hasn’t collected in over thirty years. I really wanted some New Wolverine and some New X-Men, took me until the third day to find New Wolverine that was affordable.

In no particular order here are some stories from the con…

On Saturday, the adult costume contest happened. Now, at this point all of us were tired, a really shitty night of sleep (a story for tomorrow), had us sitting in a corner praying for our feet to recover and trying to figure out how we were going to last until the Wil Wheaton experience in 3 hours. As we sat there, people in costume gathered. Lots of people. Then John Snow fell asleep just as Godzilla’s tail arrived. Soon enough Godzilla’s body arrived and we watched as the body attempted to eat a boy trying to put the body on. Seriously, nothing else was more fascinating than watching this boy and his dad (assumed) put this Godzilla costume on before the contest.

“You collect organs from the other players,” and that is how I found myself purchasing Organ Attack the Family-Friendly Game of Organ Harvesting. This person knew exactly what to say to me and the family. Even better, next to the stack of Organ Attack a stack of Fowl Language. Barb was excited by that as she gets the cartoon on one of her social media feeds. Hilarious, if you can find it and are a parent or going to be one, get it!

The baseball sized illustrations were from an artist around the corner. Hundreds of illustrations of anything and everything popular media wise. He was cools sitting in his chair inviting people to look. That was something that stood out to me, way to many artists and other people did nothing than display their stuff. Those who engaged, they were the ones we stopped at and had fun with.

Which brings me to fun encounters starting with the kids…

Karen and Darrin (link is to their webpage) had a booth with children’s choose your own adventure style books, Myth Solver and many variations of the standard superhero posters, a favorite I am Goof: Goofy and Groot merged. They got our kids attention and then got our attention. By the time we left their booth the kids had picked up six volumes of Myth Solver (our girl is almost done with book one and LOVES it).

Sometimes all it takes is a name, which how our boy found ourselves in front of Donovan Scherer’s booth. Now I can’t claim to know most of what happened, I was on the other side of the aisle ogling artwork. What I can say is that our boy walked away a few bucks lighter, wearing a smile, and with his own reading material.

Tomorrow the Wil Wheaton experience and a high five.

Heed The Advice Of Elevator Anthrax

It’s going to be CRAZY!

-Super Excited Anthrax Homage Con Attendee

No, we did not meet Anthrax, but we did bump into a man with pizza in an elevator who I hope was attempting an homage to Anthrax with his most awesome facial hair and enthusiasm.

He was not talking about Day 1, Friday. He was talking about Day 2, Saturday. And his advice which was poo-poo’d by two of the three adults turned out to be sage advice which is why I always say…ALWAYS…“If a member of Anthrax or a person with high enthusiasm AND doing an Anthrax homage gives you advice, consider it.” Or something like that.

Before I get to involved writing about our GRAND adventure, some lessons learned:

Get there early. Spending time in line in exchange for a great parking spot well worth it. Friday we arrived at open and parked in the Himalaya’s. Saturday and Sunday, following Elevator Anthrax’s advice we arrived a half-hour early. We parked outside the front door, relatively speaking. Why park close, because you will have loads of stuff that you do not want to carry around.

Bring bags to carry stuff that you will want to dump off into your vehicle

Purchase, if you don’t have one, a poster carry tube…tube with cap and straps to stored rolled posters because not everyone will put your purchase in containers

Bring a water bottle and snacks…concession stands while nice see were stoopidly expensive, looking at you $4 hot dog

Wear your best footwear. Think comfort, not style (unless part of a costume), and protection as feet will get stepped on a lot

Pack plenty of patience. We did not meet or bump into any rude or mean people, the opposite. However, there are so many people that the simple act of looking at anything other than something hanging from the ceiling can get frustrating, especially for the kids

Unlike smaller cons where deals get better on the last day, not so much at Motor City Con

Walk the venue before shopping…or try…we made it 10 feet past the door before the first of many vendors who had stuff we “had” to have…any way, attempt to walk the venue before shopping to see who has what and who is offering the best deals

Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the crowd and vendors

Take photos or try to, between the three adults we have less than 100 pictures, there was so much to take pictures of and yet, so many people that taking pictures was problematic

Have a plan to meet up in case of separation or separate shopping. Do not count on being able to text: Friday, wifi good, Saturday and Sunday, wifi extremely slow (5 minutes to send a text at one point)

People watch, not just the people in costume

Have a “plan” for what you are looking for, there were so many things that someone in our group “just had to have” that if we had gone without a plan it would have been financially bad

Bring more than $40 (that’s only 10 hot dogs) and no matter what you see, if you have a budget, stick to it because overspending is way to easy

Celebrity row was a clusterfuck of epic proportions and expensive. Don’t get me wrong seeing Wil Wheaton’s head over the crowd was cool and seeing LeVar Burton’s head on someone’s cellphone as I walked past was interesting in a live-feed meta way, but the sheer number of people packed into one corner was not cool at all

Enjoy yourself

Tomorrow Stories From the Con

Our REAL Grand Adventure Teaser

We just got back from our first family vacation ever. Where did we go? To Wixom/Novi area for the Motor City Comic Con. I have so much to share, but taking care of business of unpacking and getting ready for the week must take priority. Plus, we are wiped out.

Instead I will share a few teasers and six photos:

Barb and the kids met Wil Wheaton

Shopping for comic books at a Comic Con is not as easy as you would think

When is a four-dollar hot dog a good idea?

So many wonderful costumes

Games We Play: Food Can Wait, We Are Gaming

We are a gamer family, you know this, but I like to establish some credentials first. 🙂 While home we play big games. Games that take time and space to play. Such as Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Warhammer, and Forbidden Stars. Between big games we play smaller gamers. Games that take little time and space to play. Such as Get Bit, Roll For It, and Tiny Epic Galaxies or Kingdoms.

Our boy, after watching Tabletop Star Realms episode, wanted a deck of his own to take to school. Awesome, he wants to teach his friends how to play and start his own gamer group. Fully behind this and secretly hoping traveling games would travel with us, I got him his own deck.

And that deck went to school the next day. My only guidelines, no playing class, no variant rules (he likes to make his own rules that ensure his victory and everyone elses dislike of his variant rule), and if you get the deck taken away from you at school you are on your own for getting a new deck.

Each day a new game report, mostly interrupted games-lunch ended, recess ended, the wind started, and so on. He is getting his friends involved. At home we already play Star Realms, so all this did was increase the frequency of games. Surprsing to me, he began to bring Star Realms with him everywhere we go. Now, I have tried prior to this to bring games and have had no luck engaging people, which is why I expected the same result.

I was wrong and I am glad to be wrong. Provided someone is sitting across from him he pulls out Star Realms and a game ensues. And because of these experiences we have started to amass knowledge on the do’s and don’ts of gaming at a restaurant.

For games like Star Realms, two sides with a central row of cards, figure out a way to layout the game to take up less space, in this case the explorer cards which are always available are stacked underneath the draw deck, still visible and easy to draw. In addition, loss the authority life counter cards, they take up too much space, a napkin and a pen more efficient and space saving.

Learn how dining works. This is more for the kids playing than the adults. Waitstaff have a rhythm, some are good, some are bad, most fall between that. They want to greet, take your drinks, bring you drinks, take order, bring food, and check out how things are going. Adults know this. Kids may know this, but when deep in a game could care less.

Thus, games have to wait until they know what they want to order. Thankfully ours have learned how to order. Games need to proceed quicker than at home. Nothing irritates waitstaff like having to wait for a game to finish or clear out before food can be served. Of course, if the waitstaff has already demonstrated they are screw ups, an extra minute of holding plates wont hurt them.

Be prepared to explain to the waitstaff they game. Some waitstaff has genuinely been interested in the game. Just don’t let you overeager children explain, take the time as an adult to learn the game (you should be a gamer) and explain to the waitstaff. Service goes up when the waitstaff are also gamers.

I’m sure we will learn more as gaming continues. 🙂

Puddles and Whiskers, WDB Three Days Ago


Three days ago…

As soon as he shuffled through front door looking pathetic and desperate in his disheveled tan wage slave outfit, messy short white hair, and unshaven face Puddles mentally nicknamed him Doctor Dan. No idea why, but nicknames for new people was a habit of hers.

“I need your help to find my daughters,” Doctor Dan mumbled.

“Please, have a seat and tell us more,” Whiskers said gesturing towards his side of their shared desk.

Puddles could not make up her mind what bothered her more his voice, his appearance, or his scent. After listening to him mumble and whine for five minutes, she felt her spine ache with each word. After hearing his story, she understood why Doctor Dan looked disheveled; still have some self-respect, especially when seeking out help. Doctor Dan reeked of desperation, a very sharp tang in the air. Yep, that was what bothered her more.

With a quick shake of her head to snap herself out of her current headspace, Puddles joined the meeting. Doctor Dan was a potential client and her feelings about the client, as Whiskers was fond of saying, was not important…or something like that. Whiskers elbowed Puddles in the ribs. She did her best to look attentive.

“…and where did you say your daughters are?” Whiskers asked.

“With their boyfriends,” Doctor Dan mumbled at Whiskers clean desktop, “somewhere in Tumbledown.”

“What?” Puddles asked a bit too loud; she was losing her patience with him.

“What my associate meant to say, was could you repeat that,” Whiskers coached Doctor Dan.

Puddles let out an exasperated hiss, “Yeah that.”

Doctor Dan looked at both of them, desperation obvious, “Their boyfriends live in Tumbledown. Near the corner of 5th and East Kira. My girls,” his voice caught as he tried to contain his emotions, “left a week ago. I haven’t heard from them. The police…”

“Won’t do a thing,” Puddles interrupted eager to get him out of the office. “Familiar story. Okay, we’ll take your case.”

Doctor Dan blurted out, “You will?”

“Yeah. So let’s talk fees,” Puddles irritation pushing her past his surprise.

Whiskers put a paw on her arm, a sign to slow down or stop.

“Perhaps we should look into his case first,” Whiskers said in his calm, “I know something you don’t” tone that irritated the hell out her. Puddles cocked her right ear at him while flattening the left.

“Fine, we’ll talk bill later,” Puddles hissed at Whiskers.

“But…” Doctor Dan started.

“Yeah, we got this Doc,” Puddles interrupted.

“Some preliminary work and we will have a better idea what we can do for you,” Whiskers said in his business tone, “Is there any additional information you can provide? The more we know the better job we can do for you.”

Puddles loved listening to Whiskers in business mode. Doctor Dan shook his head no. Whiskers stood up gesturing towards the door.

“Allow me to walk you to your car,” Whiskers said.

A few minutes later, watching Doctor Dan’s tan flyer merge into traffic from their office window, Puddles looked at Whiskers, the end of her tail snapping back and forth, she was irritated. “Look into his case? What the hell?”

Leaning against their desk, one-half immaculate, the other half distressed, Whiskers calmly replied, “Did you even pay attention to the location he gave?”

“Yeah I heard, Doctor Dan said something about Tumbledown..”

“Doctor Dan? Another of your pirate nicknames?” Whiskers asked amused.

Puddles turned from the window waving off Whisker’s questions with a wave of her paw. Grabbing her favorite “Mother’s Favorite Kitty” coffee mug, Puddles began to make coffee, “Okay, so he said something about Tumbledown. Want some coffee?”

“A cup sounds great,” Whiskers followed Puddles to the coffee machine, “Name a part of Tumbledown not home to a gang, criminal organization, unregistered, ghouls, or about to collapse at a moment’s notice?”

“Oh that,” Puddles began trying to sound like she knew that all along, “we should look into his case first. I’ll call Chuck to pull data.”

And Now A Word About Dinosaurs

I do not control some of my minor urges, most noteably the “OOOHH look at that toy in the vending machine” urge. A few days ago walking into Meijers I saw a dinosaur skeleton puzzle with, if the display was to be believed, skin to go around the skeleton. I had not, up to that exact moment, thought a fucking thing about dinosaurs after all Jurassic Park mind fucked all of my boyhood joy of dinosaurs long ago and watching Jurassic Nonsense with my boy only reinforced that media was not to be trusted with dinosaurs and because of that, right up until that exact moment I had not thought about dinosaurs. Godzilla and other non-dinosaur giant lizards got plenty of thought just as an aside.


It’s a dimetrodon

So back to the toy. I had to have one. Thankfully Barb, saw a cat sticker in the machine next to the dinosaur wonder toy machine that she had to have. At times we can be worse than kids who are essentially lit adults thus we are large children, at times, and this was one of those times. A short shopping trip and a fist full of quarters later, Barb had five stickers (fuckin’ machine wouldn’t spit out the damn cat until it finished spitting out a unicorn, flower, rainbow, and heart) and I had a tiny four-piece puzzle of a…well I thought it was a dimetrodon, but after reading the fortune cookie sized information sheet learned it was a spinosaurs…or so the sheet said…

This is a spinosaurs, this is NOT the toy I got. I got a dimetrodon

What the sheet really did with stats like 12.19 m body length was trigger that boy inside of me who used to love dinosaurs. I had to have a dinosaur book. Plus I have kids and they too should see that dinosaurs are lizards always gray, brown, or green in color (more on that in a moment). Quest to find a dinosaur book took two stores, one very quizical clerk, and the same question asked and answered twice, “A book for kids or (insert pause) an adult?” The answer, “Whatever I find most amusing.”

Twenty happy minutes later I left with an encyclopedia of dinosaurs, a dinosaurs in 3D with an extra pair of glasses to share with a friend, and a build your own dinosaurs out of paper no glue required book.

Remember the lizards, gray, brown, or green in color comment from above? If not, I wrote it. I wrote it because when I was a kid dinosaur books were all the same and all dinosaurs were the same. They lived in the same time period because publishers had not figured out a child friendly way to explain time periods. They were one of three colors and that was that.

Have you looked at a dinosaur book today? There are colors, easy to read charts that explain why the stegosaurs was NOT eaten by a T-rex and feathers. Glorious colored feathers and did I mention the dinosaurs are in colors, not one color but many with designs and patterns looking like lizards and snakes do in our world. I haven’t read anything yet, but I hope I am surprised by the advances in paleontology and I have been with the advances in coloring dinosaurs. 🙂