Friday, September 05, 2008

The first of several Dragon*Con 2008 posts...

Note: revision below!
Dragon*Con has always been one of my favorite conventions. This year, I did have problems; a broken laptop, a friend's laptop whose PCMCIA card wouldn't connect worth a damn, a rush to get her a USB wireless dongle, too few hours awake in which to I'll be catching up gradually.
This first bunch of pictures is related to the comedy music performances.

In previous years, there was a filk track that also allowed comedy performers. This year, Dragon*Con was in chaos. The only explanation I could uncover was that some of the older, senior people on staff had shirked their duties or retired unexpectedly, and new people were thrust into uncomfortable positions. In the case of comedy, my friend Luke Ski was only told three-and-a-half weeks before the con that he'd be permitted to perform and run his own merchandise table.

The person placed in charge of filk was apologetic and nice, and Luke got along well with him, but the convention will have to do a lot to get filk performers to come back. They largely boycotted this year's Dragon*Con because of the indifferent treatment - and because last year's track director, Tom Smith, was livid with anger at the indifference with which the performers were treated.

Nonetheless...there were good times. This was the first time Carrie Dahlby and Luke had performed this particular song live. If it isn't obvious, it's to the tune of the famous Donnie and Marie song. The live performance was made extra fun because, using the only sound reinforcement they had, a small guitar amp, Luke's mike had an echo that couldn't be turned off. But as the Middle Earth Mountain Troll, it was perfectly in character. By the way, the song is available for free for a little while at and only costs 99 cents for a high-quality MP3 version.

Carrie also performed with her fellow Dementia Radio DJ Ken "Madman on the Loose" Sherlock in a "shadowcast" performace of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode "Once More with Feeling." Since I have a severe aversion to anything vampire, I had never seen this before. I was impressed in several ways. The big, Brooklyn-voiced Ken did a great job as Giles, and Carrie was wonderful as Buffy. Sorry, I don't know who the guy was who played Angel.

Revision: The fellow in the photo was not playing Angel, but Spike, and his name is Martin. If you need proof that I know absolutely nothing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this should be it. Thanks to Carrie for correcting me. Now, if someone can come up with a last name for Martin, all would be cool. (But I'm still not gonna be a fan of anything with vampires in it.)

Because I was on a panel (I did eight this year) I couldn't see the shadowcast of Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I hope to do so sometime. It seems that Joss Whedon has a talent for musicals that cut to the heart of their characters. I said before that Doctor Horrible is a Columbine High story in disguise, and I want to see if the downbeat ending (more incisive than Frank-N-Furter buying it at the end of Rocky Horror) is carried out in shadowcast.

Final photo note: Paul and Storm, the musical act mentioned recently on the Cartoon Geeks podcast, did a great show. It was great...and on the track...because it was being sponsored by a big media company. This company gave money to Dragon*Con to put on this show and to show a series of films they sponsored. Thus, they could get big-time guest Dana Snyder to come up and mess around with the crowd. Thus, they got the big room while the "free" performers like Luke, Carrie and the Brobdinagian Bards had to beg for space and attention.

While I can understand Dragon*Con wanting to get back some money, they are primarily a fan-supported convention. They are certainly more so than San Diego Comic-Con, which is more and more just a big advertisement for the media companies...that you have to pay a fortune to attend. Dragon*Con has always been a showcase for fan interests, but this year, a lot went wrong and many fan groups feel slighted.

For example, there is a goth-romantic singer (which to me is like being a romantic mass murderer, but that's me) named Voltaire. He and Luke have been less-than-friendly rivals in years past. This year, he sent people to Luke's table with his compliments. I won't go so far as to say that they have a "common enemy," but perhaps they have common interests in performing for their fans, which met too many hurdles this year.

Dragon*Con is a great con, and God and the bad economy willing, I will be attending next year. I hope by then that these problems will be resolved. I know I'm going to help the Animation Track director with her difficulties...and we'll be talking about that next time, when I talk about the animation programming I was involved with.