January 25, 2006

Chattacon 2006 Trip Report

AOME - ChattaCon 2006 Trip Report

by Bill the Pony

Thursday night, with Berg, Nadine, Maddy, Rosie and Daniel staying over, and it being Berg's Birthday, we decided to throw a little surprise party for him. Merry, Heather, Wade, Ariana, Anya & Foe also dropped by to join in. ("Happy Berg-Day to you...")


8:30 AM - Packing the Cars
Daniel: This is my secret treat. VERY Canadian.
Chris: What is it?
Daniel: It's a SECRET! Don't worry, I'll let you all try it. (Looks at Nadine) Oh, sorry, you can't have sweets, can you?
Nadine: Do I LOOK like I can't have sweets?

9:15 AM - On the Road
Rosie: I once cut off a piece of hair from my Rosie wig, when I forgot my foot hair. I used it on my Hobbit feet for two days before giving up. It got too gluey.

11:20 AM - Met with Foe @ Cracker Barrel for Lunch
Rosie: Okay folks, if my phone rings, everybody be quiet. My company's corporate HQis in Atlanta, and they don't know that I really came down here to dress as a hobbit.

11:31 AM
Mel: The first time I dressed as Frodo, I was so embarrassed to wear it anywhere.
Foe: Yeah, and now if you have to take OFF your costume, it's a hassle. 'Oh No, I have to change into jeans and a shirt to go across the street and pick up something. I'm so embarrassed.'

11:33 AM
Berg: Is that a costume, or just an old lady?
Nadine: Both. It's a very good costume OF an old lady.

12:15 PM - Getting the Checks
Berg: I was at Olive Garden one time. This waitress spills three full glasses...BOOM... in my lap.
Nadine: Oh no.
Berg: So my spaghetti was free, but I had to walk out of there looking like... you know, like I peed my pants
???: Hah. Peein' your pants is cool.
Foe: If Peeing your pants is cool... I'll be Miles Davis.

2:50 PM
Took an initial loop in the Dealers Room. We found "The Ear Dealers" (Aradani Studios) and the Pirate Artist (Studio de Sade). Mel is checking out some Katanas for her Samurai costume.

3:45 PM - The Hunt for Red Oktoberfest
Finally found the Con Suite. It appears to be an old USO Hall, or possibly a fallout shelter. It's about a mile and a half away from the front of the hotel. Damned map, not drawn to scale. (Damn you, Peter S. Beagle!) It took a while to find it, but I followed my nose to the sweet, sweet aroma of hops like some alcoholic Toucan Sam, and the rest just tried to keep up.

4:30 PM - Finished Unpacking
Chris: Maddy, you might want to put up the top on your car. 60% chance of rain tomorrow.
Daniel: Oh, that's not so bad.
Chris: You're right. I need to be Positive. I was thinking all "Glass-is-Half-Empty."
Mel: But if she doesn't close the roof, her CAR will be half full.

5:40 PM
Mel: Aaah! A Roach!! That's one of my worst fears. That and tornadoes.
Chris: What about a tornado of cockroaches? Wouldn't THAT be fun?

5:51 PM
Foe, Dressed as a Slytherin student, comes with me into the Star Wars room.
Anakin Costumer: Hey! Muggles only in here!!!

5:57 PM
Rosie finishes tearing a Star Wars fan a new one for saying "Stargate is sucking in all KINDS of new ways this season..." Then she turns to us.
Rosie: Sorry if I'm being a bit of a fan girl.
[Silence from the group of us dressed as Hobbits, Pirates and Wizards.]

6:20 PM - 4 Restaurants & Nothing to Eat
Chris: Well, we could pay $9 for a pizza here in an Authentic Dining Car...
Foe: ...which we can get in the Con Suite for free...
Mel: OR we go somewhere outside the hotel to eat. That's it. Stand up! We're going.

6:42 PM
Berg: (singing) Chim-chimney Chim-chimney Chim-Chim Cha-ree..
Chris: (laughs) Sorry, It's just...a pirate singing show tunes.
Mel: He's a Show Pirate.

7:12 PM - Conversation Tangents, Take 2
Mel: Look! There's a Klingon on the phone up there in that window.
Foe: Are you sure it isn't Gallegher? I think I saw a sledgehammer up there...

7:35 PM - Dinner at Q-Doba
Mel: Yeah, it's kind of like a "Moe's"
Foe: I like Moe's. I always get that 'WifeBeater' burrito.

7:42 PM - Punchline Overheard without the Joke
Foe: Yeah, he's Wade's personal nemesis. Like that baby with the uni-brow on The Simpsons.

7:52 PM
Passerby: (to Berg) Hey, why you dressed like that?
Berg: Ever seen 'Pirates of the Carribbean?'
Passerby: OH! You're supposed to be a DUDE?!?

8:52 PM - The Birth of a Catch Phrase
Berg: Dude! There's a rat in my toilet! *tsk* Small Con.

The phrase "Small Con" had already been uttered many times when people commented on certain shortcomings. Then it just became an excuse for ludicrous things. Our new scapegoat phrase, to be used in company with "Damn you, Peter S. Beagle. It's all your fault!"

9:50 PM - Meet up with "SurferDude" Daniel
Daniel2: Yeah. I dressed up as a geisha for Halloween this year. It was really hard to pee in that thing!

10:10 PM - En Route to the Con Suite
Daniel: Uh oh. (fart)
Jo: Eeew!
Guy walking towards us who was 30 feet away when it happened: Dude, did Frodo just fart?
[This happened a lot over the weekend, earning Daniel the nickname "The Canadian Muffler"]

10:35 PM
It's officially a Con now. (1) Two drunken 20-something girls just made out with each other on a dare in the middle of the Con Suite, making sure not to spill their beers. (2) Another girl stood up on a table and did a striptease down to her bra. to mixed reactions from the crowd, and left the room in tears 15 minutes later.

11:02 PM - Quiz Time
Half of this hall is set up with a DJ and a disco lighting rig, the other side is the "Free Beer" Con Suite. We've got a hotel full of geeks. You tell ME which side is deserted right now, except for a drunk guy dressed as a pimp swaggering to AC/DC, and an emo kid breaking up with his girlfriend.

11:?? PM
Not sure what I was thinking, but I have a doodle here of a magician pulling a hat out of a rabbit. It was probably the Free Beer.

11:10 PM - A Discovery
On the way back to the room, across the parking lot, I find a pair of pants laying in a tree planter. There must be a story there...

11:45 PM
Berg (Dressed as Will Turner): Ooh, I wish I hadn't had all that rum!
Chris: You're a Pirate, and you say you've had too MUCH rum?
Berg: I told you, I'm not a Pirate, I'm a Blacksmith!
Foe: He's a PieSmith!

12:15 AM - A Hotel Employee Delivers a Roll-away Bed
Mel: Look! The Murphy Beds in this hotel come with a GUY!
Guy: Ahaha. Not Really. (He dashes out the door in three steps, climbing over the bed in the process.)



9:12 AM - "Ain't Dropping No Eaves"
Maddy puts her ear up to the door to the adjoining room.
Foe: Are they up over there?
Maddy: Shh. (She listens.) The lights are on in there.

9:51 AM - Story Time
Deb: My son Justin came out of the bathroom one day putting his fingers together and pulling them apart like this. I asked him what he did and he said "Momma, I put spirit gum on my fingers." So I say why'd you do that? He says "Because I have dry skin." I asked him again why he did that and he got all huffy and said "Well Momma, it SAYS right there on the bottle, 'Apply to dry skin only'."

10:11 AM - Room Service is Delivered
Foe: Did anyone order the Peter S. Bagel?

10:52 AM - Room Service Part 2
Berg, Foe, Maddy & Nadine get their breakfast brought up. Berg cues up the Star Wars "Melancholy Theme" on Maddy's laptop.
Berg: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, The Force was strong. And it brought us...waffles. Free Waffles.

10:52 AM - Error #404
Rosie, the tech support guru, explains why we don't have wireless internet access this morning. It has something to do with IP addresses and she recommends they use "10-Dot" numbers instead, but I can't really transcribe the rest.

11:02 AM - Maddy's Upset
Maddy: I'm just a little ticked. Everybody keeps asking to [use my laptop and] get online, but the internet's DOWN!
Chris: What, the whole internet? Call Al Gore. He invented the damned thing.
Rosie: Well, what if the whole internet DID go down?
Chris: Then George W. Bush would make an Historic Tech Support call to Bill Gates' personal line. I'd pay a large sum of money to hear that.
Rosie: Yeah, "This call may be recorded for customer service..."
Chris: "--or Domestic Spying purposes."

12:48 AM - Jedi Maddy
Maddy needs some leggings to go with her Jedi outfit, so Foe decides to use the hotel pillowcases. Alas, they are too short. So the pillowcases valliantly give their life in the service of costuming, as Foe slits them longways with his knife.
Foe: [RIP] You hear that Nadine? It's the sound of the room deposit being swiped on your credit card!

Merry and Heather are dressed as Rag Dolls. Pretty well done actually, complete with seams that are showing a bit of cotton from the inside. Foe and Mel are on Hogwarts duty.

1:15 PM - Changing Sides
Melissa decides to go as Harry Potter, So she changes out her Slytherin tie and scarf for a Gryffindor set, and Nadine draws her a lightning bolt scar.
Mel: Well, this looks great! Oops, forgot something. Better get out of this skirt. If I'm playing a boy now, Harry's gone through some CHANGES!

1:27 PM
A Teenage girl passes a 9 year-old boy in a doorway.
Teenie: Oh my GAWD! Scott! I haven't seen you all weekend!!
Scott: Uh oh. (runs off the other way)

2:09 PM - Dietary Restrictions
Maddy devours a cupcake in the Con Suite.
Foe: What flavor was it?
Maddy: Good.
Foe: "Good" flavor? Really?
Maddy eats another cupcake and 2 Kosher Dill Pickles before the Con Suite staff tells her they just made some turkey sandwiches, since she couldn't eat anything else.
Foe: Damned Kosher Jedi...

2:28 PM
Two free beers into lunch, the bartender's iPod cues up "Come Sail Away" as performed by Cartman from South Park. And it just... gets... funnier... the more that we drink.

2:39 PM
Daniel: Are there balconies at the Marriott? For DragonCon?
Mel: Yeah, I guess so. Why?
Daniel: I was thinking of repelling down a floor, maybe, and surprising someone. It's not really illegal.

3:30 PM
There’s no room at the “Costuming on a Budget” panel (seats 20), so I hang out in the lecture hall next door and sit in on a panel about Carnivals in SciFi/Fantasy books. (seats 85, with 6 attendees)

3:41 PM
The Carnival panel manages to rouse me from a nap with a left-handed Lord of the Rings tie in. There’s an [http://savelibertyland.detourmemphis.com/index.html ] online petition to save the LibertyLand amusement park, and one of the oldest roller coasters in America, the “Zippin’ Pippin”

4:00 PM - ‘Jedi Mind Trick’ Practice
Panelist to Berg: Yes, do you have a question?
Berg: (Dressed as Anakin Skywalker, waves his hand at him) I don’t have any questions.
Panelist: You … Don’t… have… any questions. Ah. Moving along…

5:05 PM – Bad Dog
Chris: Hey Mel, see what that guy holding?
Mel: A dog!
Chris: Yes, but what KIND of dog?
Mel: A… Beagle?
Foe: Bingo!
Jo: Actually, that’s a Bassett hound.
Chris: Then… Damn You, Angela Bassett!!

5:12 PM – A Geek Father / Geek Son Chat
Geek Dad: Hold on! Before you take off. How am I supposed to find you again?
Geek Son: I’ll be around. Somewhere.
Geek Dad: Great. So you’re a Random Encounter. I’ll find you if I roll a Zero.

6:07 PM
We are brainstorming for a skit to put on at the Costume Masquerade tonight. The group wants to stay together, but the question is how we explain why we’re dressed as Pirates, Harry Potter, Star Wars AND Lord of the Rings characters. We were originally going to go with “Attack of the Clones” since we had three Frodos and three Eowyns, but that didn’t work. We settle on “The Real World: Chattacon:” [What happens when you put four fandoms in the same hotel for a weekend… When people stop being nice and start being real.] I write up a script on Rosie’s Laptop before we catch a bus to dinner.

7:10 – Dinner at the City CafĂ© Diner Restaurant
Jo: The way we’re seated, we look like a messed-up “Last Supper.”
Chris: Yeah. “This is my Lembas Bread, broken for you. And this is my Ent Draught….”

8:30 PM
Of course, the bus driver failed to tell us that the buses stop running at 7:30, and he was the last one out. So we start walking back to the Hotel, with Deb’s bad leg. The Diner was just slightly farther away from the hotel as the Con Suite, and that’s saying something.

9:12 PM
We’re late, but we head out to the Masquerade hall for pre-judging. On the way, we see Wade & Becky arrive, and they follow us to the theater. It’s all red velvet and padded rocking seats inside. The group goes up for close-up inspection of their costumes and we run the script a couple of times.

10:10 PM - Backstage, at the Masquerade
Guy with headset: Attention everyone! All right. Look ahead of you and see these two women here. These are your Fluffers. They will get you ready to go on.

10:23 PM – The Masquerade
  • Video of our skit: LARGE | small
  • The Transcript of the Skit (if you missed anything).

    11:00 PM – The Judges’ Verdict
    Michael Cook’s fantastic armor took Best in Show, to the surprise of no one. We got “Best Reality TV” for our “Real World – ChattaCon” skit, but it actually came with a trophy. Michael has agreed to create some artwork for us to use on the ArmsOfMiddleEarth.com website!
    We were announced second to last, so it’s like we’re runner up. That’s close enough to victory for us, so we head back to the room to celebrate. “Norrington” and “Elizabeth” join us for some Rum and Cheesy Poofs.

    11:17 PM
    I accompany Wade and "Elizabeth" on a smoke break, since I've got a key to the building.
    Wade: Dude! Chris now I know who you remind me of! Jim Davis!!
    Chris: You mean the guy who draws Garfield?
    Wade: Yeah! John! Arbuckle! The owner!
    Chris: Ah yes, the one who's a total loser and always striking out with women. You sure know how to flatter a guy.

    11:25 PM
    I return to the room to find my bottle of Rum gone. I thought it was safe, since I was out with Wade, the Rum Runner himself, but there were still pirates left in the room. I test Foe’s flagon and sure enough, you could strip paint with it. 90% Rum with a splash of Coke for color. And I have a feeling Berg was also in on it, because he’s suddenly become a giggly drunk since I left.

    In any case, the situation requires that I head over to the Con Suite to get the full value out of my registration fee. Timing is on our side, and a shuttle bus pulls up to our building, ready to ferry us over to the Con Suite. (Ever hear of a Con that required a shuttle bus to get people to the Con Suite?)

    We arrive 15 minutes later. (okay, two minutes) and are greeted by the sight of the guy dressed as the Burger King, bending over into the bushes, lifting up his plastic mask to vomit. The Mirror Queen was none too pleased with him. Inside, “Bob the Pirate” from the Masquerade was going around with a bottle of Captain Morgan Private Stock Rum the size of your head, pouring it in random people’s cups. A few sips of that stuff kicked what buzz I had going into high gear.

    Foe and I are stopped at the exit of the Con Suite, and asked to finish our beers before we leave. No problem. While we’re waiting, a drunk man with no shirt passes by. Foe and I notice he has a large tattoo covering his entire back. “Ouch!” we say. Then the guy turns around and we see that his Con Badge is pinned through his right nipple. The bouncer knew, a man who likes pain that much, you just let him take that beer wherever he wants.

    1:40 AM
    Foe, the Pirates and I return to the room, all of us three sheets to the wind from free Shiner Bock and expensive Rum. The others won’t let us in, despite our knocking, and they all enjoy seeing us all flustered and drunk outside the door.

    Becky (the future Mrs. Wade the Pirate) says “Ok, let me see, let me see!” and runs up to the peephole to look. Then she realizes that even on her tip-toes, she’s still shorter than the peephole. “And, I can’t see anything…”

    1:45 – 3:00 AM - OFF DUTY


    11:30 AM - Hair of the Dog
    Wade, Foe and Merry allegedly stayed up until 5 AM. Berg is having a hard time getting up this morning. Oddly enough, the hangover from very good rum is not so bad as one from the cheap stuff. Have to remember that.

    Berg: You know, they say the best way for getting over a makeover is…
    Chris: Makeover? How about HANGover.

    12:42 PM
    Last Lap around the dealer’s room. It’s Deal Time! Maddy picks up a pirate bandana and “Pirate” tank top, Melissa gets that sword from “The Last Samurai” at her requested discount because of the frayed handle. She drives a hard bargain.

    2:00 PM
    We postponed our goodbyes by agreeing to met at the Cracker Barrel a few exits down for a farewell lunch. We took up all the rocking chairs in front of the place, and the other guests are a bit disconcerted by the long, rippling wave of people across the entire porch. Then the waitress calls for “Beagle, Party of 14.”

    3:17 PM – Slytherin Stories
    Maddy: My dad found a really poisonous snake one time, and he beat it over the head with a board? And when he went back later to make sure it was really dead, it was GONE.
    Chris: You have to watch those snakes, because they can really hold a grudge. One day, your dad will open up his mailbox and that snake will jump out and get him – BAM! And he’ll lose that hand.
    Foe: Yeah, when he least expects it, that snake will pop out of the toaster. Cha-Chink! POW!!!

    3:40 PM
    Rosie has a plane to PA to catch, and since the food was slow, she takes most of it to go. I missed most of the big farewells because I was rearranging some baggage in the cars. But I don’t feel bad. We had a great time, and I know I’ll see everybody again soon. Heck, I’ve got the Canadian Muffler in my house for the next week.

    7:28 PM – Pit Stop at Bag End
    Maddy Berg and Nadine stop back at our house to repack the cars. Mel’s parents drop Matthew off with – joy of joys! – a bucket O’ Play-Doh! They stay for sandwiches and we watch the old Rankin-Bass animated Lord of the Rings on VHS. Everyone seems to get a kick out of Matthew’s energy. He puts all of us to work, rolling the Play-Doh into balls to make clay “Snowmen”.

    After teaching Matthew everybody’s name, she points to herself: Who's this?
    Matthew: That's Maddy!
    Maddy: (points to Berg) And who is THAT?
    Matthew: That’s BOOGER!!!


    As I’m writing this: wrap your mind around this communication fubar:
    I am on Yahoo Messenger with Melissa’s ID, because Rosie can’t see mine. But I’m invisible because I’m typing up the report. Rosie is sending me the 30MB video of the masquerade skit. Meanwhile, Melissa is on Daniel’s computer talking to Foe, who is relaying info to Dustin, who is on AIM, while she is holding a conversation with Nadine. And Daniel is talking to Jo using our home phone. Got all that?

    See The Pictures
  • 1 comment:

    1. Sheesh! Do you have an extremely photographic/audiographic memory? Or did you have a personal stenographer recording everything?