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Everything Important
I Learned from DragonCon

Jodi & Teri jpg.
Midnight at the Perk - Crescent Blues Assistant Editor Teri Dohmen whiles away the wee hours of DragonCon 2000 in the company of a friendly musketeer (Jodi of Swordplay Alliance). (All photos by Jean Marie Ward)

"Oh my God, will you look at that!" 

Crescent Blues editor Jean Marie Ward didn't even look up from her notes and styrofoam cup of hot tea. However, fellow Crescent Blues staffer Jennifer Matarese did a beautiful double-take as a young woman endowed with a bosom that deserved its own zip code trotted by.

Jennifer frowned. "There should be a convention rule against that," she said. 

I shook my head in amazed disbelief.  

It wasn't the size of the chest that caused the comment and the stare.  It was what -- or rather what didn't -- cover the young lady's gigantic…er, assets. In this case, two thin black leather straps valiantly strove to contain the uncontainable. A brave effort, but one doomed from the start. 

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Angelic - For months, Crescent Blues movie reviewer Jennifer Matarese endured comparisons to Gidget.  But upon seeing her DragonCon 2000 costume, her peers switched similes.  Fortunately for Matarese, no one on the staff can remember the theme song to The Flying Nun.

"There ought to be a list of 'don'ts' for a convention," 22-year-old Jennifer said after the tidal wave of flesh had disappeared down an escalator. "Like 'Torn fishnet hose, black boots and lots of eye-makeup don't a Goth make.'"  

"You've got that right," I agreed. 

At that point, something truly horrible happened. Jean Marie looked up. "Not bad," she said. Our infamous red-haired editor rose and tossed her empty cup in a nearby trashcan. "Teri, you can write the editorial for August. Make it a top ten list of things you don't want to do at a convention." Then, with an evil smile at the expression of dismay on my face, she wandered off into the crowd. 

"Oh maaaaaan," Jennifer said sympathetically. "I'm glad she didn't pick on me."  

"Gee thanks," I snarled.  

"No problem." 

After thinking long and hard about what to say, I realized I didn't want to write about things not to do at DragonCon. Costume craziness comprises a large portion of Dragoncon's charm, after all. The nerve needed to live your fantasy for four days should be celebrated and encouraged. 

Personally, I love going to DragonCon. Over the past three years, the Crescent Blues staff and I dubbed it a "summer camp for weird grown-ups." So in that spirit, and in the hopes of appeasing my senior editor, I compiled a list of a slightly different sort. I call it, "Everything Important I Learned From DragonCon."  

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LARPed Out - Crescent Blues games expert Anne Valliant reacts to daylight in true vampire fashion after an all-night Live Action Role-Playing session.  Her colleagues couldn't rouse her until sunset.  At dinner she ate red meat, lots of red meat...

Klingons are like cockroaches. While all other vestiges of the Star Trek universe have faded to an occasional image of the overweight Captain Kirk, packs of Klingons continue to infest every sf/fantasy con in sight. 

You cannot judge a person by their costume. Inside the scariest of monsters stalking the con resides a marshmallow heart plumping to do a good deed -- even if you're not sure you want them to do it to you. 

What goes down must come back up. And vice versa. Use this rule to survive "Elevator Hell." Leap into the last open space in the elevator first, worry about whether it's going up or down later. Jogging up 25 flights of stairs is not an option for most Dragoncon guests. (The inhuman energy of a certain evil-minded, red-haired editor does not qualify as normal, no matter what she claims.)  

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The Shadow Strikes - Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of DragonCon?  Crescent Blues staffer Doris Valliant suspects it's a deadline.

By the same token, be sure to give elevator priority to folks in wheelchairs or on crutches. They really need it. 

From the moment your plane lands at the Atlanta airport, you're on "Con Time." Con Time exists within no known time-space continuum and can have strange and far-reaching consequences. Side effects include loss of sleep, odd eating habits and the inability to distinguish day from night. 

Courtesy is always a good idea. The lady strolling around with electric tape covering her breasts or the gentleman standing next to you wearing nothing but a fur condom and a smile tonight might be in full battle gear and carrying a sword tomorrow -- A VERY BIG sword and the attitude to go with it. 

When in doubt concerning Art Show and Dealer Room purchases, buy two. There's always E-Bay if you change your mind later. 

If you share a room with other con-goers, bring a good pair of earplugs. Murphy's Law dictates that even if only two people share a room, at least one of them will snore and/or talk in their sleep. Loudly. All night long. (The editor mutters. Jennifer and I were profoundly grateful she didn't sing. She can't, even awake.) 

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Party Aliens - If a group of crows constitutes a murder, what do you call a mass of Klingons?

It's not the size of the weapon but how it's wielded. Ask any swordsman or woman. Then ask their significant other. Then run. 

Never eat at the hotel. After all, the hotel staff see the costumes every year. Spread the joy and take a cab to some nice, out-of-the-way restaurant. Think of all the lives you'll enrich when you arrive in full vampire regalia. (Addendum: Don't leave your fangs on the table while you eat -- servers consider that tres tacky.) 

And finally, NEVER let your senior editor get her hands on the camera. The blackmail material she'll get will haunt you for years

Teri Dohmen

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