We Can Dress Real Neat From Our Hats To Our Feet

“The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats
Safety!
Safety-dance!
Ah we can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind
Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine
I say, we can go where we want to, a place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind,
And we can dance
We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind
Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine
I say, we can go where we want to a place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance.
Dances!
Ah we can go when we want to the night is young and so am I
And we can dress real neat from our hats to our feet
And surprise ’em with the victory cry
I say we can act if want to if we don’t nobody will
And you can act real rude and totally removed
And I can act like an imbecile
I say we can dance, we can dance everything out of control
We can dance, we can dance we’re doing it wall to wall
We can dance, we can dance everybody look at your hands
We can dance, we can dance everybody takin’ the chance
Safety dance
Oh well the safety dance
Ah yes the safety dance
Safety
Safety-dance
We can dance if we want to, we’ve got all your life and mine
As long as we abuse it, never gonna lose it
Everything’ll work out right
I say, we can dance if we want to we can leave your friends behind
Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine
I say we can dance, we can dance everything out of control
We can dance, we can dance we’re doing it wall to wall
We can dance, we can dance everybody look at your hands
We can dance, we can dance everybody’s takin’ the chance
Oh well the safety dance
Ah yes the safety dance
Oh well the safety dance
Oh well the safety dance
Oh yes the safety dance
Oh the safety dance yeah
Oh it’s the safety dance
It’s the safety dance
Well it’s the safety dance
Oh it’s the safety dance
Oh it’s the safety dance
Oh it’s the safety dance
Oh it’s the safety dance
Songwriters: Ivan Doroschuk
171
I See What You Mean… Denver Pop Culture Con has grown into one amazing event for the Mile-High City!

Denver held it’s first Comic Con over Father’s Day weekend in 2012. Our first trip to the con was in it’s second year, the year after we lost our house in a house fire; it was tightly budgeted but we took the plunge because that was a very traumatic year and we were all touched with PTSD.  Since I had been in treatment for PTSD for many years already at that point, I knew making room in both the budget and our schedules for this kind of event was excellent therapy in the real world for us.  We spent a couple of months trawling thrift stores for cosplay elements in order to accommodate the budget and endless hours in family conversations happily inspiring each other.  Family time was spent poring over comics, watching old shows and movies, cracking jokes and telling each other stories, and our daughter begged constant tales of our childhood and hers with just one more anecdote.  Not all of those anecdotes are entirely wholesome.  My husband and I have been nerds since The Beginning, and nerds are not always wholesome.  He hacked into his rural Virginia telephone lines with his Commodore 64.  I was constantly coming up with sordid horror tales and making the little kids cry by mixing every single genre from Wonder Woman to Elvira (with dashes of V and Shakespeare) that my parents were convinced were Messages From Satan, which just made me go hang out with the hoodlums smoking behind the school.  Oddly enough where I found all the nerds playing Dungeons and Dragons because the librarians had kicked them out. They didn’t really mind, though, because they could play while listening to thrash metal and punk. And smoking.  The gangbangers and assorted other “actual” hoodlums thought we were a riot.  Some of them even tried their hand at a game or two, but just got frustrated with THACO.  Honestly, who didn’t get frustrated with THACO? One time in high school I remember trying to convince one of the tough black guys in my computer class, taught by Mrs. Hammonds (last I heard from my friend who was my former English teacher and best friend’s mom in high school, Mrs. Hammond the tough-as-nails but good-as-earth black mama is still teaching in the district, bless her beautiful nurturing soul) on those proto Macs to give it a go, but he just could not get over the fact that his preferred fighter type could not wear any armour to do his thing. He kept saying he would feel practically naked.  I had to stop talking and go back to doing my Mac thing because I got the giggles.  You can’t giggle and be appropriately gothy geeky in front of a serious tough guy and be diplomatic enough to get him to join your game, or you will ruin the whole effort.  I never did get him to come, though, and my times with that group of gamers was limited anyway.  Believe it or not, geekery is hard work.  But now that we have our very own Pop Culture Con here in Denver, we no longer have to work so hard to enjoy nerdom anymore.

My favourite part of conventions is the people; dressing up to go out is a human tradition in all of our various tribes throughout our entire history on this planet, and I love how we do it in all our various incarnations.  It is all beautiful to me.  And taking pictures of all of us humans in our various sorts of dress-up is a joy.  I always ask first.  The ones made by their wearers are especially joyful to me, and the ones parents make for their kids are doubly especially joyous.  Pop Culture Con is a place for kids of all ages to go and dress fun from their hats to their feet how they feel.  I got many chuckles telling people my dress was not cosplay when I was complimented, just my regular clothes; a few sighed wistfully that I had the privilege to do so. I assured them of my gratitude.  One does not take this freedom lightly after committing to wear our nation’s uniform, supporting a spouse who does so, or spending a lifetime being tortured for even thinking of dressing counter to code.  It’s one big Safety Dance.

As much as we would have liked to attend the Con every single year, that’s just not practical.  We have managed to attend twice; this was my third attendance, and I got to go solo like a date with myself.  That’s a rarity these days, but I treasured this day out on my own.  Each time is a learning experience, just like it has been for the organisation that puts it on for us, the public.  I often joke that I have a Volunteering Problem, because throughout my lifetime I have extended my time and energies towards helping a wide variety of volunteer-led organisations.  I learned the value of doing this early on as a child in the Southern Baptist Church, and have carried it with me always.  Philanthropy is indeed a virtue, and humans have used it to further the betterment of their communities since we first lived together in caves.  Or the Garden of Eden, whichever theory of human development you prefer to ascribe to.  Personally, I prefer to assist my fellows wherever I go, and I don’t put value judgements on who it is I am nice to or assist before offering that niceness or assistance; I wait until I am rebuffed or treated harshly before I stop being nice or offering assistance.  It goes back to that old teaching of The Golden Rule.  As a teenager I branched out my volunteering/community efforts with Amnesty International and some environmental groups, but as an adult with a family I shifted focus toward more family-oriented things and community-focused stuff since growing a healthy family depended on teaching kids things about stuff closer to home.  And children need a lot of activities because holy smokes are they endless fountains of energy; my husband and I would often comment that if we could just hook our kids up to a stationary bike during time-outs, and have that connected to our home’s power grid,  we would never have an energy bill and would solve the world’s energy crisis and discipline problems in one fell swoop.  I’ve mentioned before that my kids and I both volunteered at our  local High Plains Library in Fort Lupton (it wasn’t so much volunteering as hanging out with our librarians; they gave us recognition as volunteers, but we just got our kicks out of chilling at the library all summer, and I let them teach my kids library sciences…my daughter just ran into the head librarian of that branch at work yesterday and they fell right back into jawing at each other), but I haven’t covered the volunteer hours I put in for Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, the Society for Creative Anachronism, or the reams of research I did for other organisations such as CampFire Boys and Girls or Venturing.  I started research on these groups while I was pregnant with my son.  I started volunteering for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science when their temporary exhibit Quest For Immortality:Treasures of Ancient Egypt came to town in 2004. I doubled up doing the temporary exhibit and working behind the scenes in Education Collections. I was in seventh heaven; it was just like being an anthropologist but exactly not.  I learned massive amounts.  Volunteerism is amazing; volunteer-based organisations depend strictly on the caliber of their volunteers as to how well the group or event is going to function, and how well the public interacts and responds to the mistakes those volunteers make.  I lost my position volunteering at DMNS because I became unreliable in my alcoholism.  I missed too many shifts and my managers didn’t want me back.  Because I have done the work the AA program demands of the sober alcoholic, I don’t have any resentments towards the fabulous people at DMNS.  In fact, I hold them in the utmost regard.  George Sparks, the President and CEO over at DMNS, is a delightful man whom I have met and I would thank him to this day for the integrity of his people.  The people who run Pop Culture Con have the same level of integrity, even though they get a lot of flack for their constantly changing rules and regulations and traffic flow updates.  I have watched them in action over the entirety of their existence, and although I don’t always agree with them I am skilled enough in the art of compromise to understand that I don’t always get what I want, but sometimes I just might get what I need.  And what I NEED is Pop Culture Con.  If I complain about everything I find bothersome in a petulant manner instead of a constructive manner, the glorious event that is Pop Culture Con is going to die away and Denver is not going to have a place to dance this Safety Dance anymore.  That would be a travesty.  Where else would we be able to see Deadpool photobomb Colorado Captain, give me an impromptu photo shoot after we accidentally bumped into each other, or engaging in a flash mob dance (it wasn’t to the Safety Dance, but since this was from a couple of years ago, I can’t remember the song, although my brain is trying to tell me it was “Cuban Pete”)?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The con is always learning from their mistakes, like me.  The second time we went to con we pre-ordered our badges and that was when they were mailing badges; the envelope came to our P.O. Box empty. We have a really great rapport with our postal workers, and Shirley at our post office was just as dismayed as we were over this (they know we are huge nerds: you should have seen them when I got excited over the Star Trek stamps).  But the folks at the con headquarters were also dismayed and simply asked if we could pop into the downtown offices and pick up fresh badges for everyone; this was not a problem for us since their offices were more or less on the way of some errands at the time, so we got to meet them and they got to meet us and problem solved.  They also realised a flaw in their system and adapted for the next year.  Because I understand that nonprofit organisations work a lot better with relaxed feedback as opposed to stressed-out feedback, I didn’t panic over my empty envelope.  And the Convention folks didn’t panic but did some troubleshooting instead.  Behind-the-scenes work isn’t glamourous or well-paying (volunteerism is not a paying gig at all, as a matter of fact), but the dividends are much more satisfying.  Colorado Captain, for example.

120

If you did not check this young man out in the link provided, please do so.  He is a modern-day crusader, and his enemy is pancreatic cancer and the children who suffer from it.  He spends his free time as Colorado Captain raising funds for the pediatric pancreatic cancer societies and their families and you should give him your support.  He has pals that help him also dressed up in outlandish fashion doing funky things like exercising and teaching kids and other people that you should do scientific things such as eat good foods and make others feel better.  He has a marvelous sense of humour.  He is a nerd.  These are the kinds of people you miss out on when you scoff at all of us weird people.  We make fun of you too while we shoot magic missile at the darkness with pancreatic cancer kids and their parents.  And then we apologise for being mean to nobody in particular. Go get some, Colorado Captain!

Oh, but it isn’t just the costumes that draw us in to the comic book conventions, although the costumes are amazing.  I almost missed this stellar creation by local artist Drisana of Drizzy Designs heading out on Sunday, and missing one of her works is a huge bummer…I missed her Pennywise at HearseCon just this past Saturday, and from the photos that’s a major bummer. A lot of her creations are animatronic, like the wings on this beauty.  It is one of my cosplay goals to to HawkGirl, and Drisana has the wing design down!

 

The nerdiest thing about comic conventions are the endless supply of panels.  Put a conglomeration of geeky brains together and it’s inevitable that they will all want to sit around and talk.  And talk.  And talk some more.  About anything and everything possible, and mash the subjects all up together in as many ways possible, and encourage each other to do it as well so we have nerd philosophy soup.  It is glorious.  There is never enough time to do it all.  Because I have a rotten chronic illness and mental illness that gives me terrible anxiety, I cannot even do what a “normal” person would be able to do.  Fortunately for me, I am aware of my limits so I plan accordingly and do not have temper tantrums over missing out on things it is beyond my control that I miss out on.  I survived the toddlerhood (and teendom) of two children, and I really prefer not to act like one myself as a grown woman; it’s exhausting to throw tantrums anyway and I have to conserve my energy.  I managed two panels this year on my one day at the con.  When selecting your panels, you must begin with an idea of what kind of panels you are interested in, because the range offered is just too broad.  There are panels on specific subjects such as particular anime, panels with audience participation (I was almost an attendee of one of the Shakespeare panels; these were all completely full and people stood in the halls…security had to make sure no-one gummed up the works!), panels given by guest celebrities and authors and artists.  I planned my schedule out in advance so I was sure to see the people I wanted to see and get in some panels.  The first one was hosted by our State Attorney General Phil Weiser and run by Josh Gilliland of Bow Tie Law, who is half of the super-nerdy team of The Legal Geeks.  The panel was titled “Prosecuting Thanos for War Crimes: Law in the MCU”, and I was intrigued.  What a delightful thought project.  I had no earthly idea the people AG Weiser had on tap to do this panel would turn out to be the most alarmingly smart people I had the pleasure to share a room with and listen to in a very long time.  So sassy.  So funny.  So nerdy.  And half of them were in dress-up.  Litigating a fictional character in an alternate universe.  What kid from my generation doesn’t want to sit around and play pretend with professionals actually using their legal knowledge to try the big bad guy? It was heavenly.  The defense took all the right stances.  We adored ever so lightly mocking him.  We used our legal might to stand up for justice even though our universe couldn’t get to the MCU.  I giggled insanely to myself over Peter Parker’s permission slip to go to Germany with Tony Stark, should it be legal to thusly endanger a minor.  My son may not have superpowers, but even at 22 he still gets super cranky without adequate protein.  I’m pretty sure I do too.  I learned so much at this panel, but the most rewarding thing was that our fandom is alive and well, and composed of all sorts of people.  There were folks in that audience of every conceivable age, shape, size, and colour (and I do mean that literally, because some were painted).  And the questions posed by them were sharp…and I mean sharp.  Some of the complex questions coming from those middle and high school kids set me back on my heels.  And some of the questions coming from folks who looked as plain and ordinary as me made me proud as could be.  AG Weiser sure was proud of the time paradox question his son asked, and I can’t blame him; it was right in line with my husband’s own pet theories, and when kids pose questions that adults have been bandying around dinner tables for decades it should be something to be proud of.  It was a full room of happy nerds doing a ridiculous hypothetical thing on a Sunday afternoon for no good reason other than it made them happy and intellectually stimulated…and brought them together to share in it.  It was my distinct pleasure to meet our attorney general afterwards, even though I was shy.  And I’ll be damned if he didn’t recognise me and greet me warmly, and help me through introductions to one of the other panelists.  Her name is Bethany, and she had the greatest geekbounding nerdy clothes.  She works in DC in constitutional law.  I was enraptured by the things she said during the panel.  I didn’t get many photos during the panel because I didn’t have a very good seat, but I saw someone signing up by Josh at one point; I positively love seeing sign interpreters because I am learning sign myself since my hearing is going down the Eustachian tubes.  Mr. Weiser is a very down-to-earth fellow, even when he is being dragged around by an enthusiastic son who wants to go do everything at the con.  He permitted a shaky selfie, and Bethany let me drag her into it. He made sure I had a chance to get a group shot of everyone from the panel, even though I am much like Baymax: not fast.  Meeting everyone on the panel was a privilege, such as Ms. Nari Ely, who I swear was the smartest person in the whole room.  I could listen to her talk for hours.  She’s the one cosplaying Rey, and doing one heck of a job at it.  I came out of this panel with a bunch of new acquaintances to follow on Twitter, and the fortuitous and multidisciplinary in-depth resource that is The Legal Geeks.  If you love comics and assorted similar nerdy things and wonder about legal sidelines, they are your bag.  And you never know what roads geekery will lead you down; at the recent Gun Violence Awareness event AG Weiser and I explained to someone who couldn’t make the panel the multiverse theory of quantum physics, which is actually how the panelists tried Thanos in the first place.  We recommend Dark Matter by Blake Crouch for more introduction into the multiverse theory in fiction, and personally the Nimoy-esque titled In Search of Dark Matter by Freeman and McNamara has been on my To-Be-Read list for explaining things on the nonfiction end for much too long.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

-Cicero

I first heard that quote on a Celestial Seasonings magnet, of all places.  Celestial Seasonings got their start in Boulder, in case you didn’t know.  I didn’t believe it was true, that Cicero said that, so I verified it.  I wasn’t going to put that magnet on my fridge until I made sure it was bona fide. Sure enough, it’s Cicero. And it’s sound philosophy.  Books are mightily essential to life, liberty, and happiness…and everything that holds it all together and makes it worthwhile in the first place.  The entire reason I went to the con was books, and my love of books, and the reason it exists is because books.  The other panel I went to was the very last thing at the end of the convention, and I am so grateful for the panelists and moderator Sara Century for holding out and ending the day with such a great collection of people.  I looked forward to the panel “Writing Queer Characters Respectfully” all week not only because one of my favourite authors and human beings Gail Carriger was going to be on that panel but because I wanted to see what other authors were saying and feeling…and what my community was going to give them for feedback. I have been a front-lines, boots-on-the-ground activist in the LGBTQ community since the days when AIDS was called GERD and sperm donor told me hissingly through clenched teeth that if I was a bad little sinner I was going to get it from a mosquito that had bitten someone who was infected.  Only he said it in much uglier words.  I have no idea if he actually knew some of my friends were gay or if he was just so paranoid he thought everyone was secretly gay.  In that man’s world, if you were a woman and you wore pants, you were a lesbian.  I learned early on where to draw the line between fantasy and reality.  It was a very relaxed panel and I learned quite a few things.  One of the books was already on my TBR list (that would be Lillian Clark’s Immoral Code), but throughout the course of the panel I became increasingly drawn to an author I had previously never heard of: K.B. Wagers.  Which disgruntled me a bit, because they are from Colorado.  I have a soft spot for Colorado authors.  K.B. interspersed an awful lot of wry wisdom into the panel, and the camaraderie they brought to everyone there touched me.  People with an honest empathy for others really resonate with me, and can keep a room centered and on-topic.  With K.B. on one end of the table and Gail on the other, and Sara’s excellent questions prompting the discussion, the panel ended long before I was ready for it to.  In a big surprise, I got to take home K.B.’s book and chat with them a bit. And get another author selfie.  The inscription inside reads “Hope is the space between grief and love.” When synchronicity like that happens, it utterly makes my day.  The experience of these panels will be stored up in my heart and memories to savour when I can’t get out because my body keeps me down with the vagaries of chronic illness, or the ups and downs and anxieties of mental illness cause another “mental health day”; I am so fortunate that dedication and long practice have trained the budgeting know-how into shoestring budgeting and comfort in periods of isolation.  Being able to look back on the joys of the things I can do when I am able makes me look forward to doing them again…and patience when I can’t.  Resting is part of the Safety Dance; you have to look at your hands and make sure you aren’t whacking yourself or anyone else.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Most people think the best thing about conventions are the really famous people, and I will admit it’s pretty neat meeting those big names.  But I grew up in California, so Celebrity is not really an enormous deal to me.  What makes me anxious meeting people I admire is trying to figure out what the heck to say.  The irony is not lost.  I am fine at writing my words, but actually saying them to people I admire is not that fine.  I do just fine speaking in some groups because I learned how to do it in speech and debate classes in high school, and all those praise and mission classes in Christian schools, and still more in all those volunteer organisations.  I got the polished touch sharing over and over in hundreds of AA rooms.  But going up to people you want to say a hundred things to in a very short amount of time, because hundreds of other people want to do the same thing, is rather nerve-wracking; I alternate between tongue-tied and babblehead.  But  it’s also exciting, because you are playing dress-up at the same time.  So is everyone else.  The people you are going to see are happy everyone is playing dress-up, and they usually want to hug you.  George Takei grabbed my husband.  My husband will tell everyone he meets that George Takei touched his hip.  My son will tell everyone that Wil Wheaton cracked a cheesy joke with him.  I will tell everyone that Wil and I grew up within maybe two miles of each other and I never even knew it, which would have made teenager me moan in existential despair because I was in love with River Phoenix.  In California that degree of separation matters so much you just have no idea.  Thank the gods I never knew, for Wil’s sake.  I would have sat at the end of the street composing horrible poetry and chain smoking clove cigarettes.  He would have been so embarrassed.  That is the extent of my exposure to famous people during my life in California: casual passing observance.  Those people just lived and worked there.  And so did I.  Now I actually go out of my way to meet the people I want to meet, on their terms.  Seeing Kenneth Branagh having drinks in a neighborhood bar when I was goofing off on the roof of a city diner doesn’t really count, even though to this day I treasure that glimpse while simultaneously laughing at my teenage self losing her shit because she acted like a 1960s Beatlemaniac, dropping her pixie stix all over the place and then getting a bloody nose being so overly excited. When I finally did meet Wil Wheaton, I did tell him we grew up so close together, and we laughed about it.  Then he signed my TableTop Day Gloom Card.  Later he cracked that joke to my son.  I saw a few celebrities at this year’s con, but I really went to see some authors.  I couldn’t see everyone I wanted to see, and due to a snafu I missed seeing Mallory O’Meara, my newest nonfiction obsession. But I did get to finally connect in person with the deliciously delightful Gail Carriger, whose books I have been reading since she first published.  Ms. Carriger has gone from a small indie published author with cover art done by now-defunct Clockwork Couture (but Donna still hangs in there with Geeky Teas and Games in Burbank so if you are ever in the area please stop in and give them some dollars) to a veritable sensation.  The best thing about indie authors is the networking; the connections you make and build is like creating a second family of your own choosing.  Scattered all over the place, so wherever you happen to want or need to go, someone somewhere is available with something you can connect with.  It’s the modern-day Yellow Pages but more intimate and infinitely more practical.  Watching indie authors bond with each other is beautiful.  I thank the inestimable Neil Gaiman for fostering this sense of support and community.  Nerds multi-task on levels most people don’t grok at all.  And if you don’t know what grok means, you’re reading the wrong article.  Or might I suggest yet another book, the seminal science fiction masterpiece Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.  Authors are my type of celebrity, and I have been more excited over meeting them than most people are over meeting rock stars my entire life.  One of the proudest moments of my life is when Anne Rice complimented my hat when I met her as a teenager.  I had both the hat and the signed copy of Tale of the Body Thief until our house fire, by some greater miracle of life.  Not many things survived my childhood.  Since my trip to the con was a solo event, I had to get my photos with my real-life role models the selfie way, and I managed to snag them for every author I saw except the crazy talented duo of James S.A. Corey, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  I was turned on to the world of The Expanse by a family friend who is himself a grand storyteller, who introduced it as “one awesome space opera”.  When this friend recommends something with what for him is high praise indeed, I will run and not walk to said recommended item if it is in my sphere of delight.  I stole the book from my husband forthwith.  I thanked them profusely for being such pals with the likes of wicked good folks as Carrie Vaughn, who my family and I know by her alter ego in a fun OTHER game of dress-up we sometimes play when reality does not otherwise demand unyielding attention.  She always bought my daughter’s Girl Scout cookies and tried very hard not to snicker when said daughter seriously delivered them in her wagon at sundry events.  I think this is the only photo I have of Carrie in actual, normal clothing that we both wear daily.  To make up for not getting a shot of the brilliance that is James S.A. Corey, I managed this lucky shot of a gal sporting this hand-painted Pur Kleen coverall she had had signed by them.  She and her son were in line in front of me, and I got to witness her ask them to sign it and them glorying over her handiwork.  I ran into her later after lunch and she was happy to let me take a photo.  When I have a book signed, it means something to me, and each of the books I took to have signed had a bit of a story to them. We don’t buy many books since our fire, because of two reasons.  One, the firefighters asked us while they were putting out the fire if we had a lot of books in the house, and the answer was indubitably “yes”.  Books are terribly flammable, and since the fire we have been just a little concerned with household fire safety.  Two, we have downsized tremendously and like living a simpler life; being choosy about which books to fit into our smaller space makes which ones we keep in hard copy the Precious Ones.  And because they get toted everywhere, including camping spots all over the place in all kinds of weather, they are usually not that pristine.  Our stories have stories.  I was so happy to bond with the other Parasol Protectorate fans in line to see Gail; even though I had an ADA wristband and the volunteer queuing us up should have put me at the front of the line (and I know he recognised his error later, and felt bad about it), I didn’t make a bother because I was having a good time chatting with my fellow Protectorate fans, and I realised drawing attention to the volunteer’s error would be a broach of con etiquette. Exactly the wrong place to break etiquette, as the Protectorate is all about that etiquette.  And again, I was having a lovely time: who else should I meet in line but Molly, the seriously fun panelist from my earlier panel on prosecuting Thanos, cosplaying Agent Peggy Carter, who in real life works for the US Patent Office (Molly, not Agent Carter).  We sounded like ridiculous 1960s housewives giddy over the soaps talking about Our Gail.  She has fans across the board, though: behind me was the most dashing gent in green and a bowler.  I had to take his photo, because my son often laments the monotony in men’s fashions these days and when he goes out his own ensembles are an eclectic mix of decades and what he creates himself.  Wherever Gail goes, she inspires her fans to dress to the nines whether there is a convention on or not, and almost everyone is as obsessed with hats as I am.  Since I have missed all of her appearances and signings every single time she has come to town since she started writing, finally getting her to sign a book was almost a bucket list item.  Some might say meeting John Scalzi might be a letdown after all that buildup, but it wasn’t at all.  He was quieter than I thought he would be.  He is so quippy and quick-witted, I didn’t expect him to be such a quiet and mellow guy.  The Hawaiian shirt should have clued me in.  I thanked him right away for the Fuzzies reboot, because I snatched that sucker from my library as soon as I saw it with a gasp of nostalgic delight so loud I’m surprised my librarians didn’t come to see if I was ok.  Spending my time getting my books scrawled in by spinners of tales was the most fulfilling way I can imagine to restore my soul in preparation for what I have ahead of me I can think of.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Feeding my brain and the parts of my soul that my brain needs fed in order to keep going was what my day out was all about, but I really did need to just lark about as well, so I made sure to just indulge my inner child fully.  I do go to conventions with a list of the celebrities I would like to see, but I am imminently practical about it.  I start with a budget.  The bigger the celebrity, the more expensive their ops are.  Photo ops are more expensive than autograph ops, but at the autograph table you actually get to chat a minute instead of being farmed through the line, and sometimes you can get a phone photo.  It depends on the celebrity; you either have to do your research or be flexible on the fly.  After budget considerations I fit things into my schedule, and prioritise according to my needs and wants.  Staying flexible and adaptable is absolutely necessary because if I force myself too much to try and squeeze too much in, I will end up hurting my body and nobody really wants to call security for the crazy lady who fell down in the middle of the exhibition hall for not listening to her doctor’s orders like an adult.  Most of all me, since I am the one who would have to face the lecture from my doctor.  And the bill.  It is always a challenge to decide who to see, and going for only one day made my decision extremely difficult.  Previous visits to the con were always for the entire event; making a one-day trip was yet one more experiment in con-going.  I decided right away to forego any photo ops because of budgetary reasons, and as it turned out that was a wise decision since time dwindled rapidly due to my slow pace.  I used a rolling grocery cart I had purchased years ago on Amazon when we had lived directly behind a grocery store in Longmont right after our fire, for easy transport of groceries home since the store was within such close walking distance.  This cart was the perfect tool to not only hold all my items but served as a pseudo-walker for me.  It also let people know that I was not your average person and needed a little extra space and time, and I could pay closer attention to where I was going.  I had to find spots to pull to the side out of the way frequently to stop, but that was pretty easy; the gentle pace of traffic let me scope out a spot so I could get out of the way easily.  I ended up not getting to see everyone at Celebrity Summit I wanted to, but I figured that would probably be the case since cons are usually prone to at least one scheduling snafu and I myself need to rest more than I think I do.  I had made a list prior to going of who I wanted to see in order of priority.  My family and I had spent days hashing out this list, sometimes down to flipping a coin.  The process of choosing was fun in itself.  I didn’t end up seeing any really big-ticket celebrities, even though that coin toss was between Christopher Lloyd and Patrick Warburton.  Both had lines too long for my body to contemplate even with the ADA wristband, so I ended up spending the money I had set aside for that autograph on a truly unique birthday gift for my daughter…which had also been in my budgeting plan.  I went to the con with only cash, so I wouldn’t overspend my budget, and so my card wouldn’t be cloned anywhere.  I trust most vendors, but conventions are historically hotbeds of untraceable scams from visitors more than vendors, so I tend to keep myself within safe boundaries just in case (especially right now, during a particularly tight and tricky financial time where a mistake can be a dire hardship both in time and money).  This habit also protects parents from wheedling tweens and teenagers who promise yardwork in advance but don’t yet know the finer points of contract law.  Instead I spent some quality time talking with celebrities I admire greatly for layered reasons, and I got a lot more out of those experiences than I expected.

Claudia Christian is most well-known for her role as Susan Ivanova on the series Babylon 5, she has a wealth of talent most people don’t even comprehend.  She’s a true Renaissance Woman.  She even had a voice part in Disney’s Atlantis, which as I’ve said is the most underrated Disney movie of all time.  The first thing I said to Claudia was a thank you for the work she does for sobriety.  And I did not expect her to come around the table and hug me.  It’s habit for me to tell people how long I’ve been on the sobriety road, because I so often get disbelief.  It is part of the program to be of service to one’s community and assist others who are in need, so I am very open about my struggle and journey on the path of sobriety; Claudia was very moved by my openness and when she found out I was also a veteran she actually went into her bag and gave me her business card from her Foundation.  The C Three Foundation is a nonprofit organisation aimed at getting a scientifically validated treatment method for alcoholism made more available to those who need it, while eliminating other cycles of abuse.  I was almost moved to tears by this, and when I stopped in at the Northern Colorado Veteran’s Resource Center last week to finally connect in person I found out that the Greeley area AA district is working with them to start meetings there after I suggested it.  This sort of networking between sober alcoholics and nonprofits is how we heal our wounds, and that hug from someone I admire was more than ample payback for simply using my words.  It is a hope of mine to connect veterans seeking sobriety to programs like Claudia’s Foundation, because all therapies with scientific veracity have a place in treating the disease of addiction. All I wanted was to get her picture signed for my husband, since he has had a major crush on her since the show was on the telly.  She gave me a hug and a rose, and a free photo with her…something she says she does for all active duty and veterans.  And her personal business card, which still floors me; I will be taking it to my next trip to the Veteran’s Center (which hopefully won’t be impromptu).

The night before the con I only napped, I didn’t really sleep; it’s not uncommon for me since my bipolar disorder often sends my manic cycles into insomnia.  With the right management I have learned how to live with this, although it’s not exactly the most enjoyable sometimes.  It’s a lot better than it used to be, and I sometimes console myself with the knowledge that when my brain switches polarities and goes into it’s depressive, slower cycle I will sleep better for a while.  So what I did while I wasn’t napping was watch the entire first season of The Greatest American Hero while I did assorted other things.  It was my husband’s idea; he knows how to set the scene.  When I found out William Katt was coming to Denver Pop Culture Con I almost ran around my backyard screaming and waving my arms like an excited Kermit the Frog.  When I was a girl, The Greatest American Hero was my own personal hero.  He was my guy.  The song was my theme song.  I used to walk out into the desert and sing it at the top of my lungs.  Everything about that show was perfection to me, because I was so sad and lost and lonely, and I so badly wanted a teacher just like him.  I wanted a bumbling hero like him.  I even wanted a sarcastic wise guy FBI agent like his partner.  Boy, it was the BEST.  And when the show was cancelled it was just another sad and bitter disappointment.  Later in life I grew to admire William Katt a great deal for some of his other roles, notably the animatronic masterpiece of horror House.  My mind never connected his role as the Evil Prom King in Carrie with my hero until I was a teen, but by then I appreciated a great dichotomy.  Getting to meet him was a childhood dream.  Chatting with other fans in line was like being in a candy shop only the candy was in the very air.  When I got up to him and babbled out some of my story, he smiled and laughed and ate it all up.  I shared some of my husband’s joy with him also, and had him make out the inscription for both of us.  How many times in your life do you get to meet someone from your life that made you dream about a better future?  About doing better things for other people, whether that’s helping someone in a parking lot when they need it, or doing something big someday because you were in the right place at the right time?  That’s the way The Greatest American Hero made me feel, because he was just a teacher who got stuck with this amazingly cool thing…but lost the instructions on how to use it…but kept going anyway.  Simply because it was an opportunity to do monumentally good things for the right reasons.

20190602_111706

  When we came to the con previously, Sunday was our day for wandering the exhibit hall and browsing the artists and the wares.  Even setting aside one whole day to just putz around the tables and stalls is not enough time to truly absorb all there is to see.  There are just way too many vendors to possibly select from a top ten.  There are so many talented artists I have to limit myself to buying something from a finite number of them, and this year that number was one.  The sheer quantity of quality art that caught my eye was overwhelming, and I quickly had to narrow down what I was in the mood for.  I was able to let my shopping desires be a little more selective, because shopping for my daughter is challenging.  She tends to move things around a lot, and although she has a wide range of tastes, within those tastes she is very particular.  But the exhibit hall of the con is like a nerd’s shopping mall, and I found what I think she will love from a vendor who came from Maryland.  They travel all over selling their wares, but I can’t let the cat out of the bag about them yet.  I collected several business cards from vendors whose wares I found tantalising, but since I focused mainly on panels and authors and the few celebrities I wanted to meet, I didn’t really dawdle along the vendors.  I wanted to see how I would do at the event by myself, too, since this is the first time since my fibromyalgia diagnosis I’ve done any really major events, much less solo.  The only thing I really need to work on is better snacks, more water, and a portable seat.  I would also like a time-turner, but I have been asking for one of those forever; I am consistently about fifteen minutes to five minutes behind.  In this case, it’s probably because I kept stopping to take pictures all the time.  I’m completely unapologetic on that count, because there is always something to take a shot of.  I’m not the greatest photographer by a long shot, but I have fun doing it, and it seems like the people have fun with me.  That’s really the point of the Safety Dance: have fun, be safe.  Unabashedly exchange your ideas and goals and help each other be empowered to get there as long as everyone is safe.

Leaving the halls of the convention center I was very sore and very tired but very full of information and sights and stimulation to last me the rest of the year.  I had business cards from loads of people: artists and authors and thinkers and doers.  People with ideas and all of it on the internet waiting for me to look up and explore between the daily grind.  George had reams of data on his memory card and I couldn’t wait to see what I had captured.  I was excited to show off my surprises to my husband, because I hadn’t told him I was getting things signed for him as well.  Pop Culture Con has brought quite a lot of flavour to the Mile High City.  John Barrowman has been a guest twice over Pride Fest Weekend now, and whenever John Barrowman and Pride and geekery mash up together all sorts of fabulous sparks fly.  The indie author scene in Colorado and the Metro area specifically has flourished in a way Arthur C. Clarke, Issac Asimov, and L. Ron Hubbard would have been flabbergasted but overjoyed over if you had told them about it when they had that infamous chat in Boulder all those years ago coming up with Dianetics. (It’s an urban legend for nerds, and that’s the version that was told to me by a SuperGeek in the mid-80s)  But the real purpose behind the con is Pop Culture Classroom and literacy for kids.  All proceeds from the Comic Cons fund this nonprofit, and it is run by artists and educators with the specific goal of educating kids through literacy and art together.  It has been wildly successful in a short period of time, especially among more disadvantaged and disabled kids who need a less traditional approach to learning.  And of course libraries love it.  Every year I see more library representation.  And this year I saw several Ms. Frizzle cosplays.  My kids have been begging me to do a Ms. Frizzle cosplay for about fifteen years, and now she’s getting her time in the limelight.  I couldn’t be more thrilled.

art by IHSQUARED

microstory about lost and found tail on my Instagram @rowennalunamoth #concarnage

Published by: The Science Witch

Witchery is science, and science is witchery.  My journey through this mortal coil is nothing more than transforming myself from one state to another.  Through that transformation I transform others; I also transform the world around me.  I do this through various means that can be considered arcane: my thoughts transform my very brain by way of electrical currents and chemical signals.  My hands transform my world through the actions of physics and chemistry by way of the magic of cooking and the application of the arcane potions of makeup and hairspray.  My actions nurture or destroy by way of kindness or apathy or discipline.  Of myself or others.  This blog is all about that.  And the story behind how I found all of it out...

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s