No Brand Con 2009

Friday | Fri/Sat | Masquerade | Sat. Night | Sunday

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Somehow, there was nobody else in the room when I stopped in. Originally, the plan was just to chill, plug in Blaine the laptop, then check Facebook and a couple forums before rejoining the con. Then I heard the Geek.Kon guys next door and realized they were in the same mode. Good opportunity to get everything from the room party into the room. Better opportunity to hang out without expending energy.

Friday Night/Saturday Afternoon
Steam Wars

Evan brought a clear board to use for notes, Geek.Kon promotion, or as a shield from any attack in the Steam Century game. He ended up using it mainly to draw badly-synchronized mustaches and beards.

The pre-party, if you could call it that, consisted of watching Cinematic Titanic while they attempted to eat Chinese food without silverware. They ended up using some plastic cups cut into spoons and ladles and something Evan called a spife which worked surprisingly well.

As midnight neared and the party was about to start, I wanted to wander through the con one more time to advertise and pick up more people. Evan, the con's PR head, is usually golden for shameless promotion but his domain is limited to the internet, so there was no chance of taping a flyer to his shirt and playing town crier. I, on the other hand...

With the help of some scotch tape, I became a walking billboard. Little did I know that a second convention would be requiring my service.

The moment I reached the bottom floor, con director Trae pulled me over and led me to the No Mercy Room. All of their volunteers were currently on duty and there was a decided lack of seating available for the Hanzo the Razor, the room's marquee event. Guess who got conscripted to move extra chairs into the room?

Yes, I'm still wearing the Geek.Kon flyer.

After about ten minutes, an actual staffer appeared and I passed the job to him. Then I roamed around the con for a while to stir up some interest before heading back.

Once midnight struck, people started rolling in. We even got a few pre-registrants, which is always awesome. With my room party playlist in the background, round 1 of Apples to Apples began.

This round set the ridiculous tone with an emphasis on trump cards and shock value. Every so often, something profound would come along, like San Francisco winning for Colorful, but mostly it was of the ilk of Boy Scouts winning Hot. The greatest sequence came, naturally, associating Touchy-Feely. First came Batman. Then Kilts. Then Fund Raising. They all lost to Going To Grandma's. Once that fourth card was down, I was on the floor laughing.

We played until we were out of red cards, then turned in for the night. It was about 3:30 when I took the short walk back to my room, where everybody was asleep. I found one of the few empty spaces on the floor and three pillows and tried to get some shut-eye. About fifteen minutes later, three more people returned from the convention and tried to find floor space. Stuck on the floor, unable to sleep, I counted eleven people in the room in total. It sucked.

After only a couple hours of sleep, I gave up and was awake at 8:00. Getting to my bag proved difficult as one of the later arrivals camped out directly between the bed and the inflata-bed, obstructing my ability to get to my bag. This was not fun. Somehow, I got changed and headed downstairs, not sure if I'd be able to make it through the entire day.

About a half-hour in I realized the con was dead. It was truly the middle of the night. Heck, even the trusty video game room had most of its monitors off and cooling down. That, and I was hungry. It wasn't that my stock of granola bars wasn't going to cut it, I just found no need to make so little food last when there were two hours to kill. This time, I didn't even bother rounding up a posse and went to Perkins solo for a manly breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and no less than four different pork products (bacon, sausage patties, sausage links and some giant pink thing that I had to cut with a knife). I didn't eat for the rest of the day.

When I got back, Mudkip was out! After the Ohayocon con run, Cassie retooled it and Mudkip 2.0 made its debut.

Not the first FLCL group I've seen. It is the first time I've seen someone hollow out an old television to use as Canti's head.

This would be the first Gargomon, yes.

In the Vendors room, I pulled out the No Brand Bucks and picked up the second half of season two of School Rumble. One of these days, I might get around to watching the first half.

Around 11:00, I moseyed over to the gaming room to check out the Steam Century setup. It's something Scott and some of the Geek.Kon staffers participated in at Geek.Kon and Daisho and looked interesting. Basically, it's a live action mystery game with a steampunk motif. Teams go through the convention looking for clues, investigating sets and questioning the crew of the HMS Badger. After peering in enough and reading the mock broadsheet newspaper detailing the death at last night's ball, I was hooked. Teaming up with Evan and a few of his friends, Team 1... 2... 5! got to work.

In the stateroom with Sgt. Dwyer (who bears absolutely no resemblance at all to one of the guys playing Apples to Apples with us last night) and Edward, the ship's cat. Note the clue tied to Edward's collar. A message from the victim's ghost appeared when viewing the paper with a spectral light. Yes, it was that awesome.

Our search for a computer to research a question (needed to get a page from the victim's journal) led us to the video game room, where Trae was trying to stay motionless for the motion cam. Gardening ninja indeed.

We got a good ways through until one of our crew members got a little too close to the victim's drink and was poisoned. While she went to get cured, I got my gear for Name That Anime Opening.

When high noon struck and marked time for my panel to begin, there was not a tech guy in sight. That was not good. Normally, somebody's there ahead of time to make sure everything hooks up properly and get a sound check right as we're ready to go. Not this time, even more problematic since the previous panel ran five minutes long. Worse yet, when they did arrive, they realized they didn't have any easy way to hook my laptop to the computer... as opposed to previous years where they handed me a jack and we were good to go. Fifteen minutes later, things were getting restless.

Scott was prepared, handing Nick Izumi a cutout of the caricature from his web cartoon, adding him to the collection of Scott's cutouts.

My contribution to the time filler was reading off the Opening Ceremonies script someone had left on the podium. We welcomed all the guests again, even the one who had just wrapped his panel.

It's hard to get angry at technical difficulties with an adorable Princess Serenity onstage, but we tried.

After about twenty minutes, we finally got rolling and the tech guys left. The first round went fine, although the audience stopped the teams' early momentum and took round one. Then the laptop grounded and suddenly we couldn't use the audio anymore. The laptop's output was too high because we couldn't turn up the room speakers because the tech guys had already left. They came back once they heard the feedback from the grounded laptop!

Thankfully, I keep a flash drive on hand with all the songs (or at least last year's) for emergencies. Otherwise it would have ended there. We hooked up Sarge's computer and somehow fought on. Granted, his audio program didn't have a random playlist, so I had to use the playlist my laptop generated and manually click on... oh, let's just call the whole thing a mess.

Congrats, Team Chrno! You win the very abbreviated three-round edition of Name That Anime Opening!

With that over and done, it was back to the mystery. My teammates were treated for the poison and were then cursed by the victim's ghost. In spite of all this, we managed to make some good progress, asking some of the crew members the key questions and checking out the autopsy results. Without going into too many details about the investigation (which involved brown widow spiders, African colonization and ruthless Germans), we started to piece things together, especially as a German telegram addressed to the murder victim literally dropped at our feet. We felt pretty confident as we reached the sťance.

This was just amazing. The ghost was channeled, answered our questions... lovely theatrics all around. We gathered together one more time, asked a couple more questions and turned in our answer- Sgt. Dwyer with the spider poison in the Ball Room.

Petting Edward one more time, I headed back up to join my normal group for the cosplay.

On to Phase Three!