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Same deal as last year- free, minimal effort convention within driving distance of my headquarters. The same group from Anime Iowa is crashing with me- Jasmine, Theresa, Tyler, Spencer and Tiffany. Granted, one of the participants was unable to make the trip, but thanks to some creative casting, you won't even notice! Show us what you got, TV!

It's barely visible in the picture, but it's Dragon Half! They wanted something light and trippy, but they weren't ready for Mink. That, dinner at Ponderosa and a quick demo of Portal for Tyler and Jasmine kept us occupied Friday night.

I insisted that we get to the convention by 11:00, because one of the events I most eagerly anticipated actually came right off the bat- a screening of Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog in Main Programming. We pulled in just in time, and I ran upstairs the moment I got my badge. This was my first time seeing it and I am comfortable in saying that I'm a better human being now that I have.

Slight problem, however: in my haste to see what Joss Whedon and Neil Patrick Harris do on their days off, I had lost the rest of my group. Like last year, they had abandoned the convention and hit State Street immediately. That was a big problem because I was damn hungry.

Good thing I played through Portal the night before, otherwise I totally would have fallen for this.

The good news was that the con's proximity to everything and its freeness meant that I was bound to find somebody to grab lunch with. My top choice was Joe, who promised to buy me lunch after his last-second AI bailout. Couldn't find him, or any of the usual tertiary characters that populate these recaps. Desperate, I ventured south into new, unexplored territory.

According to the squiggly arrows, there was more convention over the bridge into this new building. Second year and they're already mocking ACen. Cons grow up so fast...

Anyway, this was the Video Game/RPG/Lan room and wouldn'tcha know it, there's No Brand '07 con director RedPracticeNinja and he's hungry too. After poking my head in and seeing a much-improved video game room (helped along by the same folks who produced the famous No Brand game room), we headed off to State Street.

There, under the shadow of the capitol building, we dined on sandwiches and Mr. Pibb and chocolate shakes and orangutans and breakfast cereals.

We also talked nitty gritty No Brand stuff. Since I'm never in a position to be on staff for any of these, but certainly have enough expertise, you know I love that.

The reason for all the drama over food was that I was on a timeframe- my fanfic panel was at 2:00. We expanded it to two hours this year, making it that much more imperative I have something in my belly beforehand. Thankfully, with that problem resolved I was fueled and clear for takeoff.

As the designated panelist, I got to sit up front, which was not such an honor in a very tight, very vertical lecture hall. Rather than craning my head up for two hours, I instead stood at the dais for two hours. Fun fun. Other than that, the panel went well. About fifteen on hand, including a published author who helped offer a bit more of a polished take on things, a role-player who had plenty of experience with characters getting a mind of their own, and a semi-noob that kept us honest by slowing us down and defining our topics. Good discussion, and we managed to use up all but the last fifteen minutes of our time.

Naturally, once that was over, that's when all the friends started coming out of the woodwork.

Konata cosplaying Haruhi. This is why you should never ask me for cosplay ideas. I have a penchant for meta.

For some reason, and I doubt that it was for giving her the idea for the costume, TEK here gave me a wall scroll she had been trying to sell. It's FMA, which was good, but it was also a wall scroll, which was bad. Not something I want to be lugging through the building all evening.

In the midst of all this, Scott and Slim were here as well, participating in the SteamCentury LARP-ish game. To get a token for this stage, they had to moo the Doctor Who theme for the OddCon folk. They settled for Gilligan's Island.

Scott reported that Whitewater Nick was present... in the gaming building, of course. I hadn't seen Nick since ACen and since I had to run to the car to return the damn wall scroll, a little detour across University Avenue wouldn't hurt.

At least you'd think that. I found Nick no problem. Since one of his famous hour-long conversations was inevitable, I at least managed to fit it in during the walk to the car. Problem was that while we were in the middle of this chat, we took the wrong exit. Instead of popping out on University Avenue, we ended up in the middle of a construction area that had no exit, despite stairs leading down (and for one building, down and down and down to a locked door). We managed to find our way back to the mainland, but fence jumping was involved on multiple occasions.

At the car, I dropped off the wall scroll and my convention bag. Yes, really, my convention bag. I had the rest of the day pretty much down and didn't have any major con supplies. Scary to be so unladen, I know.

Back at the convention, May and Officer Jenny prep us for the cosplay. The third girl in their group was dressed as Lorelei, but I didn't recognize her. Probably because Lorelei has one distinctive feature about her that the cosplay was lacking:

I'll give you a hint: her wardrobe and hair were perfect, but nobody noticed.

Ahem... anyway, on we go to the masquerade. Note that this makes four straight conventions where I actually went to the masquerade. I'm getting a little frightened here.

One of the No Brand staffers and his son, donning the Gardening Ninja garb. You can bet Trae got a kick out of that.

A ginormous Soul Eater group...

And look, they do tricks!

And so does these Pitaten cosplayers with a choreographed Mini Moni number. So cute, you can almost forgive them for going too long.

Rather than wait for the results (Kellin was one of the judges; we could just ask him who won Sunday), Nick and I headed out for more adventures. And believe it or not, this little recap's going to need another page.