All in all, I give the con a C+, but the experience a B. I felt that I was meant to go because it just seemed so... obvious in a cosmic destiny sense. So I just kind of sat around and let things happen. If anything DID happen, it must have been subtle, and years later, I can say, "If I hadn't had gone to Anime USA in 2008... I never would have been a millionaire." I *really* tried to let things happen. I tried to keep myself out in the open, hung out with friends, and generally just "experienced" the con. And I had fun... but nothing wow-inspiring, "holy carp, my life has changed!"
Friday, I left work early and took the Metro down to Crystal City. When the Red Line stopped at Catholic University, a bunch of corn-fed, white bread teens with matching tee-shirts came on and surrounded me. They were part of some "Christ the Lord is Yo Pimp Daddy" group. Okay, maybe they had a different name. But they were loud and fairly typical teens until the train broke down at Rhode Island Ave, which is a stop where a LOT of inner city kids have a bus/rail hub.
Suddenly, these were some scared children. Quickly they circled their wagons and clumped into small tight circles to shield them from Jareel and Lawanda shouting in urban lingo filled with guttural street talk. Think those Children of the Corn were loud? They got nothing on the ghetto crew from NE. I just watched in amusement as I played a line in my head from the original movie "Hairspray," where Mrs. Pingleton said to Motormouth Mabel, "Get away from my daughter you... NATIVE WOMAN!!!"
After about half an hour where I got two possible pickpocket attempts and several solicitations for Altoids ("Kin ah have some of yo' mints, dude? Thanks, yo."), we finally got a train that let me off at Gallery Place where the station platform was so packed, it was difficult to get OFF the train. Luckily, those mint-mooching NE kids were not afraid to be rude, so I let them cut a path which I followed.
When I got to Crystal City, within one block of the directions the hotel, I realized the woman who gave them to me was trying to get me lost. In my attempts to find my way around, I must have passed the hotel 2-3 times, and according to my pedometer, I walked about 4 miles. My iPhone map was unhelpful, since it always said I was in Crystal City, but not which street. During this time, I somehow hurt my foot real bad, probably from strain. Eventually, I found a group of anime fans, who said, "Oh, yeah, it's right around that corner, you can't see it because the entrance faces the other way."
Yep, they were right. Later on, as an added stab, I found out the hotel had a shuttle to and from the Metro. Thanks for that, hotel desk lady. I hope you get a wart on your ass.
I hung out with loquesse and moliarty in the art show when I got there, and then had dinner with cheesy_reads and stodgycat at Matsutake sushi. Then I walked around with them when they went to CVS and the ABC store. Since loquesse was providing me with free lodging, I ended up closing with them when the dealers room and art show closed.
The art show was a niche in the dealer's room which didn't have any walls or any real feeling of a separate element of being an art show. We just looked like another dealer, and since we lacked the huge shelves and brightly lit displays of most of the other dealers, we looked like a sad, home-spun dealer. Paul and Venora were running the show, and loquesse and moliarty helped out.
I was so tired by the time we packed up, I just went to the house. And what a house! Damn! It looked like a cruddy old townhome on the outside, but it was like a TARDIS as far as space went. It was HUGE! Like 4 floors with an elevator. All the decor was very FAHncy and outclassed most of the McLean homes I grew up with. My room was the library with a fold-out couch that was more comfortable than most hotel beds. I even had a private full bathroom.
I am VERY grateful that I could stay there.
Saturday I hung out most of the day with friends. I got to see beta58 "video-spin," which is hard to describe, maybe he should make a Youtube video demonstrating it. He gave me a personal tour of his tech set up dig, of which I was amazed and grateful for. I hung out with cyaneyed during a security sweep, while we looked for the mysterious "I won't show my badge" woman with short dark hair and a black hoodie sweater (ten security people were looking for her after she escaped into the dealers room, and we never found her).
I went back to the house around 7 to get a nap so I could rave. Those who saw my blog entry that night knew that I did not rave. beta58 did his best to entertain the crowd waiting for the band, which I think there name was "Versailles." Even though they were supposed to be playing at 10 and ending at 11, they didn't start until 1am. I left before they played, because I had to be wake up at a decent hour Sunday morning. I was pretty pissed, and so were a lot of ravers and band groupies also pissed. It got worse before I left, because people were coming up to ME and asking "when will they start?" and "You should go up there and do something," and somehow because they thought I did Emcee work for other cons, I would do so for this one. Luckily, some raver girls got on stage and wiggled for a while. Like I said, beta58 did a little spinning, but he kept being interrupted, and couldn't do a light show for security reasons. The band may show up at any minute... what a pisser. There were some people playing techno from their laptops or car stereos outside, but it wasn't the same.
BTW: He has a great quote on his recent blog entry about this.
I went home, and found out later that day that the rave started at 2am. At 2am, I was in bed. listening to techno on my iPhone, dozing off and dreaming of raving.
Sunday I got to hang out with Beth (medical ops) and her kids, Brian and Kathleen, who are super awesome kids. One of those fannish parents who got it right. I fell in love with Kathleen, who is very gregarious. When she gets excited about something, she talks like she's gasping for air, it was very cute.
I left early, like at about 1. I got home, had dinner with takayla and then pretty much rested the rest of the evening.
My impression of the con was it was nice, but it made a lot of n00b mistakes for a 10 year old con. Notably staff suite, which people complained about all weekend. There also seemed to be a lack of volunteers, from what I heard. But there were no real disasters, so I guess that's good. I really liked the attendees, though. I kept hearing from security and medical how few incidents they had for a con this size. And the con is, after all, FOR the attendees. And I hung out with friends, and made some friendships a little stronger. I missed my wife and son, but I did okay. If friends go next year and it's in the same place and I have free or very cheap crash space, I'll probably go again.
I got some cheap crash space and a ride in the works for AMA next year, too.
Some candid photos here: