Tuesday, October 7

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #24.

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#24 - "The Geek.Kon Aftermath."
(Originally Published October 10, 2007.)

The CDP Goes To Geek.Kon.

I had never been to a 'Con' before, and was honestly fearing the worst. I envisioned the sweaty, unwashed masses of overweight humanity, goose-stepping out of their parents' basements, throwing on their best ironic t-shirts or star fleet uniforms, and thoroughly embarrassing myself and my beloved city.

I was pleasantly surprised. I'm also ignorant and more than a little bit of an asshole.

For a first-year, completely free Sci-Fi/Anime/Gaming convention, Geek.Kon 2007 delivered the goods and offered a lot of promise for the future. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers and staff, I firmly envision Geek.Kon to be one of the premiere Cons in the Midwest in no less than five years. The weekend festivities were even featured on CNN!

I'm A Very Important Pansy.
(My VIP pass ensured that I didn't have to wait in line at the Mark Hamill kissing booth.)

Now that the organizers have earned clout, they can charge admission and gather more paying sponsors. This will generate more revenue to secure a better venue, better guests, better prizes and better ways to accommodate and please the ever-growing fan base. Over 1,800 people attended this two-day affair, and I'm guessing that number might double in 2008.

Furthermore, once the CDP is recognized as the funniest and dare I say, sexiest blog in Wisconsin, I'll probably be signing autographs and collecting hotel room keys like nobody's business come next year.

1800 Geeks In One Place.
(Amazingly, the line started forming at 7am on Saturday morning. During CARTOONS!)

My only two criticisms of the event had nothing to do with the Convention itself. The venue needs to be changed (they really had no choice but to hold it here this year), and a lot of the Geeks in question refused to bathe beforehand. However, don't let it be said that Sci-Fi conventions are nothing more than gatherings of pungent, dateless losers with fantasies that would crack even the filthiest psyche, nope! I spotted more cute Cosplay girls than an entire day spent in the Anime section of Suncoast Video. Believe me, I'm there a lot.

I Didn't Approach Them.
(If you were a semi-cute girl in a somewhat-cute looking costume, you pretty much pwn3d the place.)

Here are the details, from what I can recall. I should also mention that a lot of these photographs are not mine. The labeled ones were shot by Chris Norris for Dane 101. Please visit both sites so they don't get mad and make me remove all of them. I've only gotten into copyright trouble one other time, and I really don't want to experience it again.

People Were Getting Tazed Left And Right.
(This hallway was exposed to natural sunlight, so it was for the safety of the Geeks that they avoid it.)

I wanted to arrive right away at 8am on Saturday, to watch the MST3K episode Jack Frost, arguably the best Mike Nelson episode of the entire series. However, campus parking in Madison is a cruel joke, and the Missus had to actually drop me off at the door at around 9:45am while she continued to look for a spot. Had I been any later, I would have forfeited my place in the Guitar Hero II tournament, which was the main reason for my attendance in the first place.

I brought my own axe (pictured above) with its very own case. Considering that some folks brought robots they constructed out of old washing machine parts, I didn't think I was going to get stared at too much.

More Geek Merch Than Would Fit In Your Mom's Basement.
(The Geek.Kon vendors accepted cash, check or anything adorable from Japan.)

I found out that the tournament was going to start a little later than announced, so I did some walking around the convention grounds while my friends were in the process of parking 1.5 miles from the venue (seriously). There were three floors of geek goodness, from LAN parties to DDR to cosplay to Anime viewings to artists to vendors to movies...you name it, it was probably somewhere under the roof of the University of Wisconsin Humanities Building.

Walking around by myself, I lowered my jackass facade a bit and took in how much fun everyone seemed to be having. It was infectious, and it in tune made me happy.

Then my friends showed up, and I went back to making fun of everyone. I never said I was a strong man of character; next time, I'm coming alone.

There Were About 6 Different News Outlets On Hand.
(One of the few chances you can wear a skiing outfit in the Autumn without people thinking you're retarded.)

What shocked me above all was the large amount of press coverage this thing was getting. Every local network, and a few national networks were on hand to roll tape and ask questions. During the Guitar Hero tournament, for example, news crews were really starting to bother the participants while they were trying to play. These poor kids were just trying to win a contest, and some douche from Channel 27 was trying to get their name and information at the same time. Dude, Monkey Wrench is only a three-minute song; just give them a bit, okay?

Next Year, They Can Get Real Celebrities To Host These Panels.
(Yes, women outnumbered the men here. Yes, I have no idea how that happened.)

Since the convention was brand new and free, the organizers couldn't really bring in the Whedons and Wheatons and whatnot (hilarious), so fans and volunteers set up their own panels in which to talk about these people. Personally, I think they did a great job.

Being a huge fan of Japanese music, I was saddened to see that the entire auditorium for the J-Pop panel was standing-room only by the time I got there. On the other hand, I was satisfied that things were going so well. I knew what it was like to put a lot of work into something that nobody else cared about, so it always makes me happy to see a dream play out better than expected.

For example, when I was in High School, I wrote a pretty amazing song about a kid that used to touch himself in the library while looking at pornography on the school's computers. Imagine my shock when everyone was turned off by the whole thing. I thought it was brilliant, and could have rocketed our band to super-stardom. For the time being, "Library Jack-Off Boy" still sits in my filing cabinet, just waiting to be unleashed on the general public.

There Were Seriously Some Great Costumes On Hand.
(The auditorium was packed to the rafters when the CDP made his presentation.)

Being new to the convention scene, I don't know the deal with photograph etiquette. I mean, if I see someone wearing a neat costume that they put a lot of time into, is it polite or impolite to ask for a picture with them? Is it okay to approach strangers in this regard? There were more than a few people who deserved to be the center of attention (the lady in red up above, for example), I just didn't want to come off like a stooge or pervert every time I asked for a picture.

Each time I stared at a younger girl in costume for more than a second, I half-expected Chris Hansen to pop up and tell me to have a seat next to the plate of cookies. Eventually, I just put my head down and made a beeline to the Guitar Hero room. The tournament was about to begin.

Talk Nerdy To Me. Please.
(I don't know who this girl is, I haven't met her and I don't know her name, but I'm almost positive that I love her.)

There were 16 slots in the GHII tournament, and a packed room of about 30 in attendance. The folks who showed up early had the advantage of being able to warm up and get comfortable in the room, while I dashed in 5 minutes beforehand, clutching my guitar and a box of Lemonheads that were my only source of food so far that day. This already wasn't what I had planned for myself.

Nonetheless, I scoped out the competition and took a seat near the back. I stayed unassuming and went through my battle plan and strategy in private.

My strategy? Swear loudly to distract my opponents and throw punches when necessary.

I Was Dressed Like A C-List Local Blogger.
(Say what you want. Those are pretty amazing costumes. My t-shirt and jeans combo didn't stand a chance.)

The preliminary round eliminated the pack from 16 to 8 competitors, which called for everyone to play the same two songs, and cut the bottom 8 total scores. There were a lot of good players in the room, and I was feeling a little nervous before it was my turn to shine. Furthermore, my entourage and wife were late in showing up, and filed in halfway through my first song.

I played pretty good, though, and survived the cut from 16 to 8, ranking #2 overall. This allowed me to have control over what songs I wanted to play during the head-to-head portion of the tournament, excluding if I were to face the #1 ranked seed in the finals.

This did not happen. For, in that very room, my worst nightmare loomed. A sight so intimidating and nerve-shattering, that all who came before it were humbled in their presence.

Of course, I'm talking about the token Asian kid.

I Cannot Believe This Guy Has A Kid.
(Screw the robot, look at this dude's shirt! Raddest. Attire. EVER.)

You know who I'm talking about. At every arcade, in every video game competition, there is a token Asian kid ready to pulverize and destroy everything you thought you knew. He's going to humiliate you, embarrass you with his work ethic and maybe sleep with your girlfriend if he wants to. I don't know what it is about Asian kids that makes them so damn good at video games, but it's almost unfair.

I won my quarterfinal match with ease, and faced the token Asian kid in the semis for a chance to go to the championships. I tried to keep my composure, but I couldn't help but tremble as I plugged my controller into the PS2. "Stick to the game plan," I said to myself. "Stay cool, you can beat this guy!"

It's a good thing the crowd was standing behind me, because I started peeing my pants pretty early into the face-off.

It's Not Really Her, But I'll Take It.
(Not Natalie Portman, but hey, close enough!)

It was a 2-out-of-3 match, and I got the honors of choosing the first song. Instead of my slow and steady, conservative style I adopted to cruise through the tournament, I decided to pick a hard song and see if I could rattle this kid. Of course, we all know that you cannot rattle an Asian kid at anything.

I was destroyed. Manhandled. Embarrassed in front of my wife and friends. Strike 1.

For Round 2, my opponent had the choice of song, and he decided to pick the one song that I absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt cannot freaking play. I was almost laughed out of the room, and graciously accepted my 3rd Place finish as the token Asian kid went on to win the tournament.

His prize? A key chain!

I Didn't Have A Prayer Against An Asian Kid.
(Here, I take on my quarterfinal challenger while Fidel Castro sits on my right.)

My friends were shocked at how reserved I was at the outcome, considering that I was just raped in front of 30 people. My opinion was that I played the best I could, and I only would have been mad had I choked for whatever reason. I was fine with the finish, and we were now free to roam about the convention in peace.

Eight seconds later, I grabbed a random dude, booted him right in the rod and threw him out of a third-story window.

Ranked Number 2. It's Better Than Duke.
(Geek.Kon was state-of-the-art, boasting a fully-functional 'chalked board.')

After some more roaming, we finally left Geek.Kon to grab some food. By accident, we wandered into Harvest Fest, which was a huge competing festival dedicated to the legalization of marijuana. I got concerned that I would be photographed and shown on the nightly news, which would assuredly lead to a frantic call from my mother. We hustled out of there pretty quick.

Oh, and to those who want weed legalized? Not going to happen. Ever. Sorry.

I PWN This City.
(I sure hope this sticker gets noticed more than I do. I didn't give away a single thing that day.)

In conclusion, I can't wait for Geek.Kon 2008. To the organizers and volunteers, you did a great job. My only suggestion is that you put a shower on sight for those who desperately need it. If you ever need someone to lead a panel on how to run a moderately successful and ego-driven local blog, I think I might be able to help you out. You have officially converted me.

It's A High-Quality Piece Of Vandalism, Right There.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Open for business again.
I totally know what you mean about enthusiasm being infectious. I enjoy stuff so much more if I'm able to set aside the cool facade and just enjoy things for what they are.

Did you make it to Geek Kon 2008? I had other plans both years and wasn't able to go, but it looked like fun.
Nice essay - didn't catch this one the first time around.

I didn't hear much hype leading up to the con this year, which was strange, but I'm told they had even more participants. I hope it went well, as I'd be curious to go to the next one.

Also - don't ever close your blog again! I nearly had a debilitating anxiety attack this morning. I needs me some CDP.
MICHAEL - Once we're all completely free of ego, we will truly be happy. Kids know how to do it, then we forget somewhere along the way. I blame commercials.

EMILY - Thank you, dear. Oh, and I'll try to keep the site from coming apart like it did this morning. It happens sometimes.
How did I not know such a thing exists! I am a geek magnet, and not one of my loyal minions mentioned it.

By the by, according to my students, you look like petofile (sic) and you are uncool with no life outside of your computer. And your name is Jerry Curly.

I swear to God I did not tell them anything about you.

Ben is William James King IV and is a midget wrestling referee.
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The only convention thing I've ever been to was Wizard World Philly earlier this year. It was great and I hope to go again next year as a cosplayer (hopefully The Comedian from Watchmen). Those Legend of Zelda costumes are awesome. I do agree that the one girl in blue is pretty cute.

-Mike, TAFKA izzy2287

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