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Since I haven't updated this in forever, here's a list of things coming up with Kat's Play.

July 18 - 20: Say hello to Hoshicon's new cosplay coordinator! Along with host/MC Headphone Mike, I'll be running everything related to cosplay! If it looks like I don't know what I'm doing, it's because I don't. Please be gentle!

August 8 - 10: You asked for it and you got it! Kat's Play is bringing back the Hellsing panel to Otakon. Day and time are TBA.

January 1 - 4: Ring in the new year with Ichibancon! I won't be hard to find as I'm now a GM for the LARP. Come by and play a little or just to say hi!

I'm still waiting hear back on panels for AWA and Nekocon. And September 7 - 13, I will be taking a second honeymoon with my husband to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I can't wait to go to Disneyworld again!
You may have noticed that the prices on my gallery have jumped significantly. This is because I have been charging $100 for every 10 hours (or "per day") of labor and then $15 for each hour after that. I did this to stay competitive with Chinese dealers and my fellow American commissioners.

However, I can't keep doing this. I have been agonizing over this dilemma for a year and I've finally come to the decision that I need to raise my prices. So, after my current batch of commissions is done, I'm putting an end to my "per day" ($100/day where 10 hours is a "day") rate and charging a flat $15 for each hour of labor.

For example, a 10-hour job will now cost $150, instead of $100. A 20-hour job will now cost $300, instead of $200. You get the idea.

Several factors are playing in this decision:

- At my "real" job, I make just over $17/hr, after factoring in shift differential. So why am I spending all my free time working for $10/hr, or 58% of my current pay?

- At my "real" job, if something breaks, they pay to replace it. If something breaks while I do commissions, I have to pay for replacements or repairs out of my own pocket. Likewise for supplies and fabric.

- I am making absolutely no money. Any profit I manage to make goes right back into my business to make may own personal costumes or to pay for business and travel expenses. And I'm having to dip into my personal account to keep supplies coming. I can't keep doing that and still stay in business.

- Not naming names, but there are people that have started taking commissions and are charging $8 - 10/hr. These people have just started sewing, whereas I've been sewing since I was 10. Given I'm 34, that's 24 years of experience, longer than some of these people have been alive. Given I have more experience, a bigger skillset and have more awards under my belt, my rates should reflect that.

- It's affecting my personal life. Due to the lower pricing, I get a lot of commission requests, especially in the summer. For the past few months, it's literally been sew-work-sleep, with no break. I had to give up on my "big" costume this year and pushed back my third-degree black belt test several times, just to get this stuff done. I rarely see my husband without the machine between us. And when I take my sewing machine and serger on vacation with me just so I can meet deadlines, something has to change.

- I'm reaching complete burn-out. My father's death last year practically killed my motivation and caused me re-evaluate my own life decisions. While I loved my father, his big character flaw was that his work came before his personal life. And I believe that is a big part of what drove him into an early grave.

So it's either close up shop because I'm reaching complete burn-out... or raise my prices to weed out potential clients and lighten the workload. For those that disagree with this decision, I'm sorry if I'm pricing myself out of your budget. But I'm not going to keep courting clients that don't value my time or work myself ragged for 58% of what my time is truly worth.

I appreciate your understanding and look foward to serving my fellow geeks in the future.
I just realized it's been forever since I updated my journal on here.

So here's the skinny...

- Volunteered for Funimation at AWA for the first time. It was a blast.
- Did my first ever panels at AWA, Nekocon, AUSA, Ichibancon and Katsucon.
- Won my first "best LARPer" award at Ichibancon as Dorothy Wainright from Big O.
- Found out during AWA that my father had a life insurance policy that neither his wife nor my mom could touch. Half of the $38K policy went to pay off my Citibank card and car loan. So now I only have my main credit card to pay down.

It's been a strange year since Dad died. But I'm looking forward to making this year an awesome one.
For those that don't follow my Facebook, I regret to inform you that my father passed last night. He had several strokes on the rear of his brain last week. The doctors at Wake Med did everything they could for him, but it was all but a foregone conclusion. His wife, Anne, made the decision to disconnect his life support yesterday afternoon and he passed right as my brother and I were pulling into the hospital. We have made our peace, thanked Anne for the 12 years she was with him, and are doing okay, all things considered.

We are still coming to Animazement, but we may have to duck out periodically for reflection and a cry. Until June 1, Kat's Play will be closed for business and I will not take any new commissions until after that date. Thank you all for your understanding, condolences and support.
STATS:

Photo Count: 111
FAIL Count: 5
Costumes brought: 6
Roommates: 5
Travelmates: 3
Autographs obtained: 2
Songs mixed at the last minute: 1
Awards won: 0
Lupin III manga bought: 2
Total manga bought: 5
Photoshoots attended: 0
Panels attended: 2
Jareths found: 1
People trolled as Kefka: ~20

SWAG:

pink petticoat
photoshoot CD from Frost Photography
Haruko fanart
Lupin III Vol. 2 and 6
Metropolis
Vampire Hunter D (first novel)
Gear School

Why is it that in the week leading up to a big convention that I have an absolutely horrible night at work?! Is that the lab's way of telling me that I can't take time off EVAR or what? Still, needed break was had, though I feel like I blinked and missed it.

First things first, I have established a new rule for myself. I will no longer work on other people's schedules. I spent part of the con trying to please other people and had no time to do some of the things I wanted. Once I blew off some of the more stressful elements on my time (like the poorly planned photoshoots), I ended up enjoying myself a lot more.

The watchword for the weekend was "full frontal". The reason was Friday morning coming into the convention center. I wound up on the back side of the Marriott and noticed a guy waving his arms and trying to get the cop in front of me to turn around. Then our poor, innocent 15-year-old travelmate noticed why: a woman was walking down the street completely naked. Somehow, I was able to stop laughing long enough to give the cop room to turn around and arrest the chick. So "full frontal" became our rallying cry.

Check-in and unloading was a breeze with 8 hands carrying stuff (mostly mine, though about half of it was to share with roommates for eating, sleeping and wardrobe malfunctions). We went to the convention center with trepidation because several people on Facebook mentioned a 2.5 - 3 hour line on the previous day to pick up pre-reg badges. However, we encountered no line at all and were able to dash up to unpack and change into our costumes for the morning.

Jouji Nakata's panel was a treat, since he voices main characters in two of my favorite series. (Alucard in Hellsing and The Count of Monte Cristo in Gankotsuou) And he loved Johnny, Stassie and my Hellsing costumes. (Pip, Seras and Integra, respectively) Since we had tickets for the ticketed signing, we went to see the Hiroaki Hirata panel and a ticket for his signing. After that panel, we went to see Nakata to get our stuff signed and a picture. And I was able to practice some of my Japanese. He asked (via translator) if I had heard the Gankotsuou sountrack and I said "Hai. Shii-di arimasu." (Yes. I have the CD.) He seemed pretty impressed with my poor Japanese speaking skills.

After the signing, I was able to dive in at the end of Hirata's signing to get my ticket signed. I didn't know he was coming, so I didn't have OVA 3 for him to sign. Next time, I'll prepare better. Derp.

After that, I wasn't ready to wear Rainbow like I intended, so I opted for my super-comfy Ponyo to get luffled on. I was free to wander around and get my manga, including the only two Lupin titles in the ENTIRE dealer's room. C'mon, people, it didn't go out of print that long ago. Here's hoping I'll have better luck at Otakon before I break down and destroy my gift card balance at Amazon. The booth I bought them from was running a 5 for $20 deal, so I was able to dig out a few more interesting-looking titles to fill out the deal.

As I wandered, I ran into Cha, who revealed an interesting tidbit: I was on Frost Photography's posters for their photobooth as Kefka! Apparently, I've gotten quite a following, since someone at MTAC told the booth staff that he knew me from another convention. On Saturday, I posed by the posters as Kefka.

That evening, I formally debuted The Ballgown, which I had finished that Wednesday. The wig and hair ornaments I finished on Thursday and the jewelry came right in time. EVerything coalesced to make me a pretty, pretty princess! They only misfortune was that I forgot my Fushigi ball, but that was a minor setback. People didn't come to see the damned ball! I got stopped quite a bit in the ballgown and couldn't resist twirling and being prissy. And several people threatened me if I didn't enter it into the Masquerade. I hadn't planned on it this year because I was so focused on finishing it, but I thought "why not".

Saturday morning was brekkie in the hotel. While people think I'm foolish for paying $15 for the buffet in the hotel restaurant, it's still a good deal for the awesome fruit bar alone. I'm not much of a pancakes and waffles person and prefer fruit with my eggs and hashbrowns, the latter of which the cook graciously made for me upon request. And the food isn't salty and greasy like McDonald's.

Saturday morning saw me in my obligatory Rainbow Brite and handing out the Star Sprinkles. I've gotten three good years out of her, but I think she is due for a re-make because the costume is starting to show its age. I'll probably do that once I get a lull in the commissions. Funnily enough, an older lady actually paid me $2 for the $.15 of sugar I gave her and her friend, which came in handy.

I wanted to use my cell's ringtone for my Masquerade walk-on, which is the first 17 seconds of "As the World Falls Down". I had brought my SD card adapter for a transfer, but the Masquerade staff insisted on a CD for the music. So I swung by the photo booth and got a blank CD from them and gave them the $2 as a thank you. Then dashed up to my room, pulled out my laptop and did a quick mix of the original song and burned it. Then made it back with time to spare.

Soon enough, I was ready to be in Kefka. Only a fraction of the Final Fantasy people from last year showed up, so I didn't feel as guilty when I finally decided to skip the Final Fantasy shoots. It was just as well, since it apparently started raining shortly before the shoot was supposed to begin, which is a Bad Thing for my satin- and make-up-heavy costume. For a few hours I walked around, posed for pictures and trolled cosplayers. Some of my favorite gems:

- Sailor Moon: "How's that thing with Mamoru going? Oh, wait... He DIES in Season 5!"
- Edward Elric: "So, Ed. How's your mother?"
- Rapunzel: "You know, Flynn will never love you. He's just after your crown. But your mother is QUITE hot. Imprisoning and mentally abusing an innocent young girl? What's not to love!"
- Finn: "Hey! What time is it? (Wait for "Adventure Time") No! It's 2:00! Get a watch, you idiot!"
- Random congoer: "Excuse me, do you smell rotten eggs? *sniff* Oh, wait... That's YOU! How dare you offend my delicate olfactories!"

Everyone was a very good sport about the trolling and even played along a bit. And there was a funny argument between a Sephiroth cosplayer and me as to who was the better and more virile villian, which got a small audience.

Soon enough, it was time to get out of the make-up and get back into Sarah for the Masquerade. My title was "As the Con Falls Down" and intro was as follows:

"It has come to our attention that many of the congoers are a little... young. So Kat's Play invites those old enough to remember a certain Jim Henson movie to show these kids what a true fan reaction is like!"

There was a collective gasp. As soon as I walked in the door, everyone over the age of 20 immediately started cheering. I had my 40-second walk-on and several people told me later that they didn't want the walk-on to end because of the supreme nostalgia!

My biggest reward, however, was two teenagers coming up to me after the Masquerade and asking me what it was about the dress that they were "too young to get". They had never seen Labyrinth, so hopefully I inspired them to pick up the movie. In fact, so many people told me during the con that they were going home after the con and watching the movie again. I think that's the biggest compliment I received this weekend.

No awards this go-round, but I expected that since it was such a last-minute thing. Perhaps I'll enter it on another year and have something planned.

Funnily enough, though they had us divvied up in our divisions, the judges only gave out three or four awards. I figured they decided to lump everyone together since there were only 15-16 groups, which is a REALLY low number. While I see the logic behind the decision, it kinda stacked the deck against the Novices. Some of the Novice acts were pretty clever and would probably have gotten an award if they had awarded according to division instead of just giving overall awards. I'm sure I'll see bitching on the forums when I check it later, but I'm not going to waste this space feeding the drama I'm sure will come.

After a brief break in the hotel room to eat and get Hobbs, I went back out on the con floor to show off the gown and several of my friends told me there was a Jareth running around. Then they started to help me hunt him down, ending with a search in the rave to finally find him.

The parallel of pushing through a mass of bodies to find the Goblin King was NOT lost on me, I guarantee you. I just didn't think it would be a mass of smelly ravers.

But we found Jareth, who kissed my hand and made me all shy. We stepped out of the rave to snap a few shots before Jareth dived back in to seduce women that weren't UFOs.

After a couple of more laps, I finally retired to shower and pack up.

Sunday morning was running stuff down to the car while people slept off their hangovers. Then I changed into Fujiko. However, Mike had a rare fail Sunday morning and misplaced some of his Lupin gear. As a way to make up for it, he escorted me down to the car and guarded me as I did my "quick change" routine into Ponyo. Then it was all pictures and love and last minute runs through the dealer's room. All too soon, the con was over and we unwillingly trudged our way home.

FINAL VERDICT:

I'm kinda sitting on the fence about my verdict this year. I had a lot of fun, but my lack of enjoyment probably stems from grossly overextending myself again. Perhaps my new "wha-eva, I do wha I wunt" philosophy will help to alleviate that. After I organize my thoughts better, I'll probably have more specific criticisms for the forums.
STATS:

Picture Count: 184
FAIL Count: 4
Trusting Souls: 5
Times Elevators Broke: 6
Times Oboro recognized: 2
Dresses made for Ball: 1
Signatures obtained: 1
Quick changes by the car: 2
Awards Won: 0

Swag:

Yoshitaka Amano's Coffin: The Art of Vampire Hunter D
Yoshitaka Amano's The Worlds of Final Fantasy
GrellxSebastian doujinshi
WilliamxGrell doujinshi
Yaoi flag
Ponyo plushie
InuYasha plushie
Final Fantasy Anthology

AWA was different for me on several levels. It was the first major convention in two years that I had not brought Integra (not because I'm growing tired of the fandom, but because I didn't know when I'd wear it). It was the first time since going full-time on 3rd that I drove by myself to a convention. And the first convention in a while where I didn't catch one whiff of con drama.

On to the review!

After getting off work, I headed to Atlanta and arrived at the hotel without incident. I texted everyone the room number and passed the hell out for about 4 hours. After picking up my badge, I decided to put on Ponyo and go to Cheesecake Factory while waiting for everyone to arrive. Once everyone arrived and got their keycards, I ran around and got loved on as Ponyo.

Around 11 or 12, I hung out in the room with everyone and we all watched Ponyo (which I still had in my laptop bag). Keila's giggling at the kyoot was all the reward I needed. I took my lappy down to the lobby after the movie ended and surfed for a bit until I was falling asleep while sitting up.

I woke up at 8 on Friday morning. I had brekkie and got into Rainbow. Registering for the cosplay contest took longer than expected because those running it thought the convention started at 12 instead of 10. So the registration started late. After getting my judging time, I was free to wander the con. I made my first purchase in the dealer's room in Black Butler doujinshi. The Yaoiland booth didn't have much that I was interested in and I'm not a huge fan of Kuroshitsuji, but the two I bought were pretty good and rather encouraged me to pursue making Grell once the fandom calms down. Other than that, I basked in Rainbow love and almost ran out of candy by the time it was time to change into Ponyo.

Before changing in to Ponyo, I swung by the dealer's room to pick up Vic Mignogna's signature, which ate up 2 1/2 hours of wait time. A large part of the reason was that Vic showed up about 15 minutes late to the signing and was on his cell phone 3 seperate times during the signing while fans were waiting to see him. I could understand five seconds to tell his caller that he couldn't talk at the moment and then turning the phone off, but his conversations were at least five minutes in length. It was very rude and unprofessional. The only reason I stayed in line was because I had been in line so long that I had to see it through. Now that I have one FMA box set signed, I won't be seeking anymore signatures from him (unless I find another series that I like that he's in).

The delay caused by the signing caused me to rush to change into Ponyo and made me 15 - 20 minutes late for the Miyazaki gathering. It turns out that my rushing was for naught because there was a total of 4 of us. We still took pictures and enjoyed each other's company. I wandered with the awesome Fujimoto cosplayer and we basked in the love that we got. I ended up buying an InuYasha and Ponyo plushie in the dealer's room and retired to the room around 7 to rest up for the ball.

The Sunday before, I tried on my Integra dress to see where I needed to alter and repair it, but the zipper got stuck in a place where it wouldn't go up or down and I couldn't wriggle out of it. Worse, it was right on my diaphragm and cutting off my breathing. I had to cut myself out to save myself. I didn't feel like fixing the dress or altering the dress I bought for "formal" Fujiko. Upon my husband's suggestion, I made an emergency run to Jo-Ann to buy stuff to make a formal Ponyo dress and bought a cheap fluffy petticoat from Spirit. The result was a really cute party dress, made all the cuter by a find at Target in the girls' shoe section: a pair of sparkly red ballet shoes!

Around 8 pm, I put on my new Ponyo party dress. Funnily enough, I was allowed to carry my bucket in with me, which made my outfit more recognizable. I had massive amounts of fun running around in my new sparkly dress and shoes and pulling random people to dance with. My dress swirled around so much that I'm going to have to make some bloomers to go with the dress! It was also a nice change because the dress and shoes are much more comfortable than the Integra dress and bitch boots I normally wear.

After my sparkly fun, I retired to the room to change, shower and bring down the laptop to upload a picture of me in the new party dress to Facebook. I realized that I was about to fail and went to bed.

Saturday was a big breakfast and hanging out in the lobby taking pictures until it was time to put on Kefka. I gave myself an extra 30 minutes to allow for picture requests on the way to my judging. (Which was a good thing. It took me almost the entire 30 to get to the other side of the convention center.) My judging was short and sweet and I was free to wander the convention to threaten and terrorize the attendees. I made my way to the cosplay line-up and met up with awesome Leon, Locke, Celes, and Kuja cosplayers. We chatted and posed for pictures until it was time for me to get in line-up. AWA's contest is a craftsmanship-only deal and is similar to a glorified fashion show. No awards this go-round, mostly because I decided to not putter around on placement and put myself in the Master's category and my costume is more an amalgamation of Amano and Dissidia rather than a straight shot of either. However, no grudges, since the people that did win did amazing jobs on their cosplays and made me feel properly inadequate.

After the contest, I toughed it out until the 9 pm shoot which was scheduled at the last minute. Barely anyone showed up for it, which is understandable since I and most of the FF cosplayers puttered around on the time and location. I'll take most of the blame for it since a lot of it was my fault. But the few of us that did show up got a lot of picture requests because we were that epic. Finally the make-up and compression vest had driven me crazy and I took my leave to go upstairs and shower. I hung out with my roommates fully intending to grab the laptop to check email and Facebook after eating, but at some point I passed out and woke up around 2:30 am. I just rolled over and went back to sleep until 8 am.

My alarm went off Sunday morning and I did my usual pack and carry to the car. My costumes were mostly packed and ready to go anyway. I put everything I didn't need in the car and was mostly cleared out by the time all my roommates turned their keycards in. I put on Oboro and waited by the elevators for the Rare/Obscure shoot, only for no one to show up. It wasn't until I got home that I found out that it was supposed to be by the Dealer's Room! FAIL!

I went to the Laura Bailey and Travis Willingham signing, only to find out that the line had already been cut off. There went the only two reasons I wore Oboro! I went to the car to put away my boxsets and decided to put on Ponyo again, but leaving my compression vest in the suitcase because I didn't feel like digging it out and stripping almost naked by the car. Either no one noticed my boobies or I did a very good job of keeping my bucket in front of my chest so no one saw them. I hooked up with Madam Awesome Fujimoto and we cute-ed up the entire convention again. I picked up my FF Anthology game and Amano artbooks before I realized that 4 pm snuck up on me and I needed to allow for my 6-hour drive home.

The drive home was without incident and seemed to fly by thanks to my collection of FF6 CDs. I came home to my husband and calicos and passed the hell out, leaving all my crap on the living room floor.

Final Verdict:

My first foray at AWA was very underwhelming, mostly because massive con drama and nervousness about my first out-of-state convention soured my experience. This year, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, frustrations aside. My roommates were awesome. As were the new people I met. And the events I participated in were highly enjoyable. It was a nice change to drive by myself and be more or less independent, because I only had to worry about myself and my needs. (I only stopped once each way for food and gas, for example.) Not having to figure out how to cram 4 or 5 people's worth of crap in my car was a nice change of pace as well. The experience was reminescent of why I got into this hobby to begin with.

I just got coverage for my November dates, so I'll be seeing my friends in Hampton and Arlington once again! Until next time, kids.
Picture Count: 52
Newspaper Interviews: 1
Costumes debuted: 1
Entries in cosplay runway: 36

Swag Received: Librari-Con 2010 button

Another Labor Day weekend, another Librari-con come and gone. I took the previous night off to give me the opportunity to rest up for a deceptively busy convention day. I ended up staying up until 5 am anyway because I went to FNM, which was a full four rounds this week, most of which went to time. And I still needed to finish the bloomers for my Ponyo cosplay. It wasn't until I finished that I realized that I didn't have my handouts, notes or anything for my panel printed out. The past week had been so hectic that I never had the chance to print them. So I scrambled to print them, only to have teh toner cartridge on both printers crap out on me.

I finally went the "screw it" route and went to bed. After a three-hour nap, I headed to Fayetteville, only to realize 3/4 of the way that I had forgotten my camera. I ended up using my DS to take pictures, which taught me to never forget my camera again. The DS camera will do in a pinch, but not one that's meant for serious use.

After checking in and wandering around getting all kinds of Ponyo love, I took a break to go get lunch at the awesome pub a block away from the library. After lunch, I got ready for the panel. This year did not see the double-capacity occupancy like it did last year, but I'm chalking it up to the panel being scheduled against several popular panels this year. The attendees were treated to some AMV and Masquerade videos while I waited for people to come to the panel. I did the best I could jumping back and forth from the laptop to read my notes and rallied as best I could without having them in my hand to look at. The attendees asked a lot of questions after the initial speech and it seems like I've gathered some new "fans".

After that was more wandering and registering for the cosplay runway. I got a great reaction as Ponyo and screaming "ham" at the top of my lungs. Only to be scared away by the 501st, who cosplayed a bunch of villians from the Star Wars series. Why didn't I cosplay Rainbow Brite so Darth Maul could suffer the wrath that Darth Vader did last year?

After the Runway, I took some pictures of myself  in Artist Alley and received my complimentary button. I headed home, played some Archenemy format Magic as Ponyo (and was about to put my group's archenemy away before he pulled the scheme that killed all of us!) and passed the heck out.

All in all, Librari-con is proving to be the only barrier preventing me from checking out Dragon*Con or "enjoying" the Labor Day holiday. For such a small convention, it's very energetic and easy to catch onto the kids' enthusiasm. As long as the folks at the library keep having me, I'll continue being a face at the convention!
STATS:

Picture Count: 17
Roommates: 2
Fail: 2
Celebs Spotted: 1
Autographs Obtained: 2

SWAG:

Luis Royo's Tattoo/Peircing
Luis Royo's III Millennium
Joker (signed by Brian Azzarello via Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)
The Killing Joke (signed by Brian Bolland via Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)

G.W. Fisher art of Joker, Harley Quinn and Catwoman
Laurie B. art of Rainbow Brite, Justice League, Chun Li, and Harley Quinn (x2)

Ugh, why did both Hero's Con and ConCarolinas have to be the weekend after Animazement? Not only did I have to make a decision as to what con was more important to me, but, by the time I had finally decompressed from Animazement I had to gear up for the con I chose.

In the end, my friends decided that Hero's Con was the better choice and there was marginally more activity of interest at this con. (No offense to the ConCarolinas folks, but they are usually the weekend following my busiest con of the year, so they suffer from the comparison and risk finding me underwhelmed by their programming.) Plus with all the kids wandering around, there was more chance that I'd get noticed in my costumes and, thus, more potential business.

I didn't want to take Friday night off on the heels of taking the previous Thursday and Friday off, so I worked Friday night, grit my teeth and waited for Sam and Ash to get to my workplace on Saturday morning. Turns out that I had plenty of time for a nap because they got turned around twice before even getting past Hillsboro proper. I'm still figuring out how that happened for them since they hadn't even gotten to where the Interstate splits. Once I straightened them out, I waited for them while watching YouTube videos in my car.

Once we got that squared away and on the road, we arrived at the hotel a little after 11 am. After throwing my stuff in the room, I put on Rainbow Brite and started walking the con floor.

The con was much more crowded from last year, so I only did a cursory scouting of the dealers and artists. Simply because I couldn't get in for a closer look. I discovered from Kurt while getting lemonade that Brian Bolland's line was currently underway and he just missed the cut-off. Well... balls. There goes my main reason for coming to the con. I've just had no luck this year with getting autographs.

I cut my losses and wandered the con, getting pictures taken of me by everyone. Annoyingly enough, people constantly tried to take ninja pics of me, in violation of con etiquette. People, if you ask me, I will pose for you! You'll get a much better picture! That aside, I was a big hit with the kids this year and had a lot of parents ask me to take pictures with them and/or their children. One little girl came up to me and said "You're beautiful!" D'aw.

One of the pictures I took was with a guy set up with a studio in one corner of the con and out of the corner of my eye I spotted someone that suddenly made the fact that I missed out on Bolland seem insignificant. MICK FOLEY was at the con! I have never dived for my camera so fast. He gracefully accepted a picture request with me and I gave him two fistfuls of the Star Sprinkle candy to take home to his kids. I didn't see him for the rest of the con, but the consensus was that I had successfully won the con.

Yes, I'm still fangirling over this.

I got bored, so for the next few hours, I stood at the entryway and made my own fun playing with my rainbow rope and fielding picture requests. As the con wound down, I texted the girls that I was ready to head back when they were only to find that they already headed back. After teasing them about abandoning me, I headed back myself.

While I waited for the girls to freshen up for dinner, I discovered my "When You're Evil" mix that I made for my Animazement skit had vanished. (Probably due to the emergency restore I had to do to my laptop earlier in the week.) Luckily, I was able to re-mix it relatively quickly and still have it sound roughly the same for when I (hopefully) reprise it at Otakon. Once I had finished, Olin joined us and I guided us to a nice Italian bistro tucked into a corner of downtown Charlotte. I devoured my spaghetti and garlic bread and enjoyed the wine I had ordered to help me sleep. I passed out around 10:30, waking up about 12 hours later. Tired Kat was tired.

Sunday had me as my ever-popular Harley Quinn, but the reaction was more subdued than it was with Rainbow. A lot of kids stared at me and waved back when I waved at them, but only a few actually wanted a picture with me. And Mistah Sledgey proved to be as popular as ever.

My favorite moment as Harley was when some frat-boy-looking dimwit asked me to hit his friend with the sledge. I told him I wouldn't do it and he asked why. "Because I'm a responsible cosplayer." Indeed, another major rule of con etiquette is: You don't freakin' hit people with your props! Even joking. Furthermore, the most important part of being a professional costume artist is being professional. Hitting strangers is not being professional. You wouldn't have asked Mick Foley to bodyslam your friend, so don't ask me hit him with my prop!

Really, the intelligence level (or lack thereof) of some of my fellow geeks is astounding.

I finally spent money at the con, buying some Luis Royo art print collections and a handful of nice fan and professional art. And I got Bolland's and Azarello's autographs thanks to a $55 donation to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

After successfully spending most of my cash, the girls and I head back to Greensboro to pick up their car and go home. Now I can relax for the next two months and gear up for Otakon!
STATS

Photo Count: 231
FAIL Count: 7
Trusting Souls: 5
Kefka Fangasms: Over 9,000~!
Awards Won: 1
Brains Broken: 2
Cards printed and cut before bed: 340
Commissions delivered at con: 2

SWAG

Alucard plushie
Edward and Bela "Sparkling. Ends. Now." shirt
Lelouch "Obey" shirt for Chris
CD of Kefka picture from private shoot


Oh, damn. Where'd I go just now and why am I missing my pants? That's pretty much been me this entire Memorial Day weekend. Animazement is typically my busiest convention, being my "home" event where I'm rather well-known. This year's even moreso because so many people were looking forward to see my Kefka cosplay. Since I was too exhausted each night to do my usual blow-by-blow account, I'm just going to give the most amusing highlights.

- Bedtime Thursday night was 4 am, due to literally cutting it down to the wire to finish a commission and still having to pack and cut 340 business cards. I only had 60 Star Sprinkle bags ready to go, so I needed 140 more and 200 Kefka cards. I finished the commission at 2 am and packaged it for delivery at the con. I don't know how I accomplished everything in two hours, but I did.

- When I checked in to the Marriott, the room I was assigned was 1408. This became a running gag throughout the entire weekend and a sign that I was going to have a great time.

- I got free swag. One was a rainbow cell phone charm from my roommate Alexis's girlfriend. Simply because she likes my Rainbow Brite cosplay. Another was a Shippo and Kirara keychain from a random couple of girls becuase they loved my Integra. It gives me warm fuzzies.

- Shibari in the hallway. Nope, not lying. A couple of teenagers were tying each other up in full view of congoers and staff. While I enjoy shibari, that's decidedly not "family friendly" and shouldn't be done in a public place during a time that children are sure to see it. I believe they were kicked out, since I didn't see either of them for the rest of the convention.

- Rainbow v. Stinkmeaner. Yep. It happened.

- The Black Butler shoot was an example of why you don't mess with things that aren't yours. We were fine where we were until someone had the brilliant idea that the barely buck-ten Finny cosplayer needed to pick up a nearby plant. Despite several admonitions to leave the plant alone, the mob ruled that the shot had to happen. At that point a staff member told us to either move it along or disperse because the shoot had become a fire hazard.

- I didn't manage to get any of my DVDs signed. Once I saw how huge the ticket line for Kappei Yamaguchi was, I was discouraged from trying for any autographs. If they are expecting a high turnout for a VA, perhaps AZ should allot more than an hour for signings. Just a thought.

- I don't have an Alucard cosplayer to call "mine", but I think my new Alu-plushie will make a great substitute. I was hoping to get my copy of Hellsing Vol. 10 in the mail before the con. It didn't come in until Friday. FML!

- I've been able to cut down my make-up and dressing time to about 90 minutes for Kefka. I still need to do a lot of washing when I shed him though. It was funny watching the confused and anticipatory expressions as I walked to cosplay registration in my make-up, Kefka undies, wig and boots.

- I can't wait to see Chiki's pictures of Marci and me. She makes such a pretty Terra!

- During the day after the con, I got 22 new friend requests on Facebook, including most of my fellow FF6 cosplayers. I think that's a personal post-con record.

- I didn't see much of the cosplay chess due to the shoots and picture requests, my tummy rumbling and having to help a client repair a cosplay, but what little I did see was enjoyable. Maybe I'll make it in next year. I'd love to put Kefka on the board!

- Thank you Waffles for being my pack mule while I was doing Kefka. You made the costume a bit easier to deal with by carrying my stuff for me.

- I got pre-love from a group of FF6 cosplayers. They had heard there was a Kefka at the con and spent most of Friday looking for me. I was happy to pose with them and they are wonderful group of kids.

- Holy hell, did Kefka get some love! It took me 20 minutes at one point to get across the lobby because of all the picture requests! And to top it all off, NOIZ liked me! After touching up my make-up, I rode the elevator down to the lobby. As I got off, NOIZ got off a different elevator at the same time. They all looked at me and one said, "Oh! Kefka! Kefka!" And while waiting in the cosplay line, NOIZ came out a side door and saw me again, going "Kefka! Kefka!" I was too flattered to remember how to ask in Japanese if they wanted a picture with me. Now that I remember: "NOIZ-sama, 2011, sashin shimasu ka?" (Literally: "Will you do picture?", but the gist is there.)

- Somewhere between the room the NOIZ concert was being held and the cosplay line, my badge went missing. It probably slipped through my fingers while I was walking. But a really kind soul turned it in and I was able to get it after the cosplay. I payed it forward the next day when I found a badge on the escalators. Thank you, kind soul!

- Why do I always get stage fright? The night before, I took my laptop down to an openish area and practiced my steps for my skit. I had everything down perfect, yet I felt like throwing up when I got to the Gorilla position. During the second verse of the song, I stepped on my cape as I was going for the bottle and almost fell on my butt. I was able to keep my balance, but I thought I had lost any chance at placing due to my bobble.

- 3RD PLACE?! Yep, after being bumped up to the veteran category due to my craftsmanship awards and almost falling on my butt, I still got 3rd place! Not bad considering I put the skit together about a week before the con and practiced at work or when I got home and was too wired to sleep. And the hugs and high-fives after the skit and then after the ceremonty made the award even sweeter!

- Craftsmanship was not as positive an experience. There were a lot of really good costumes this year... almost 50 entries by my count. When there's traditionally only 20 - 25 usually. And brand new craftsmanship judges and staff that looked just as lost as we were. What resulted was a disorganized mess where people hardly got any time to talk about their costume before they were ushered away. Hopefully, the next year's new "appointment-style" format, which is used by other cons, will prevent this right mess from occuring again.

- I was also the usual ambassador for the con. Several people at the Marriott for a wedding asked for pictures with me as Rainbow and one guy on Sunday came to the convention and people-watched in the lobby. He took pictures of my Kefka and we had a nice chat about the goings on of the con. It's so neat when "norms" take an interest in our little obsession!

- Raleigh needs to do a better job of labeling how to get to 40. This is the second year in a row I've gotten lost trying to leave the convention center.
Picture Count: 58
Trusting Souls: 7
SWag: 0
Roommates: 1
Feathers: 3

Another weekend, another small con come and gone.

The trip down was largely uneventful and I promptly crashed as soon as I texted Owen the room number. By the time I woke up, most of the FNM events in the area were already underway. But I settled on a Sunday pre-release event about 15 minutes away. After a shower and Owen's arrival, we went to get dinner at Mellow Mushroom. The salad wasn't much to write home about, but the yummy cinnamon pretzels fed me all weekend.

Saturday morning was an overpriced hotel breakfast because I didn't want to hunt down brekkie in an area I'm still largely unfamiliar with. I quickly Rainbowed up and walked with Owen to the convention. Rainbow got her usual reaction from the older attendees, but it was rather subdued because I believe everyone was looking forward to Kefka. Most of the morning was attending the costume panels, run by Morgan Skye. She gave a lot of great information on wigs and wig care, which I sadly have little experience in.

After learning that the costume judging was earlier than expected, I grabbed some lunch, made a couple of laps and hiked back to my room around 2 pm to get on Kefka. I wanted to give myself extra time to pin the scarves on my cape and paint up my face. I was able to do it with only one major screw-up and still get to the judging somewhat on time. However, the process of transforming myself into the FABULOUS court mage takes TWO HOURS! Yikes.

Once I made myself pretty, I walked back to the con, getting plenty of stares and the reception I was looking for. So many people wanted to get down with the clown. My judging was short and sweet, which freed me up to wander around the con to field picture requests, insult cosplayers and threaten people. The strangest thing was that I got SEVEN people to drink my poison (watered down Coke; won't kill you but tastes rather unpleasant). Such trusting souls in Columbia!

A couple kids posed for a "dead" picture, with me cackling over their bodies. I also did an angry pose while posing beside a "The Game" cosplayer. (That is the ONLY time I will encourage that stupid meme.) And I persuaded a Joker cosplayer to pay tribute to his god.

Then came the masquerade. I learned from Michelle that there were only two people in the amateur category, which was changed into the "Master" category when I wasn't looking: her and me. Neither of us could call ourselves novices and we had one foot out of amateur, so I guess they just changed the category to Master to make it sound cooler. Unsurprisingly, she got first and I got second. I can't compete with someone that handsews EVERYTHING. In all the contests we've been in together, I've beaten her ONCE, and that's only because she wasn't aware that we were being judged on performance as well as craftsmanship. That's why she's my rival!

While talking with Lauren (who demanded that I bring Kefka to Nashi and fangirled when she finally saw it), she told me that it almost came to a coin toss between us. That's how close it was. I'm pretty flattered because Michelle is one of the cosplayers I look up to. So if I'm considered on par with her, that's a huge ego boost.

After a few more laps, I finally retired to the room to wash off the make-up on my face, shirt scarves, wigs, the sink, the tub... Yeah, that crap got everywhere. Luckily, it's cream-based, so a little soap and warm water got it off. After hanging stuff up to dry and bathing off the con funk, I screwed around the net for a bit and passed the hell out, only to be woken up by Owen's cell at 7 am.

The second day was characterized by prancing around in Lolita and saying goodbye to the lovely Nashi organizers before dashing off to get some Eldrazzi pre-release action.

All in all, another great effort by my USC friends. Keep up the good work, guys!
STATS:

Picture Count: 22
Panels Run: 2
Hours Awake: 32
Travelmates: 2
Pokemon Gym Battles: 1
Swag: 0

Oy. I have proven several times that I can go without sleep for almost two days, but it's not something I am overly eager to make a habit of. If I didn't have the panel to run at 10 pm and two people depending on me for transportation, I probably would have ducked out early. As it was, I was tired when I finally got home at 2:30 am, slept for 8 hours, went to Olive Garden because I wanted spaghetti and slept for 5 more hours.

My "day" started with picking up two friends right after work, but trying to find A&T while the entirety of I-40 was shut down quickly ate up the window in which I planned to take a car nap so I wasn't a zombie for the entire day. (Did I mention that I hate Greensboro? I really do.)

Rainbow Brite didn't get the reception she normally does, but that was mostly because the vast majority of attendees were kids young enough to be my spawn, so they never heard of the glorified toy commercial. However, I did get a parent that wanted me to take a picture with her small daughter, which made me happy.

The con was tiny, as first-year cons usually are, and there wasn't much there to really occupy my attention aside from hanging out with my Charlotte friends to chat and watch the kids run around. By noonish, I was operating in a bit of a fog as the lack of sleep caught up with me, so maybe it was just me.

Around 3 pm, Owen mentioned that his usual running mate skipped the con to go out on a date with his girlfriend so I volunteered to help out with his martial arts panel. It was fun to watch him get all nervous while presenting his panel and I wonder if I looked that much like a deer in headlights when I presented my first panel.

The costume contest was short and sweet. I was a little disappointed with some pre-con debates that I indirectly caused. I wanted to enter Rainbow Brite, since it's been my major costume for the past year and the first one that I felt was competition-worthy. I also wanted to get a few more contests under it before it gave way to Kefka. But since it's already won several awards at larger cons, some of the staff didn't feel it was entirely kosher to enter it at a tiny first-year con like this one. Ultimately, the cosplay chair was going to allow me to enter it, since it wasn't actually in the rules that I couldn't.

After thinking about it for 10 minutes, I asked to change my entry into an exhibition entry. I had not considered the possibility that Rainbow's entry could be considered unethical. I didn't want to be the cause of drama for anyone or have any awards (if I won anything) to be tainted with accusations of unethical behavoir or favoritism.

While I can see where the argument was coming from, my final stance on the issue is that it's a little silly that the debate even occured. Ultimately, I do this for fun and view all contests as equal, no matter the size. While an award from Otakon may carry more "weight" than one from Animazement, I'll proudly display both awards side-by-side. I put a lot of work into my cosplays and any recognition for that work is welcomed.

That irritation aside, I still proudly posed in the exhibition category and got the BAWs I was looking for. I dashed off after my time on stage to gather my stuff for the cosplay panel and change into something I could easily move in to help Owen with his demonstration. It turned out that my dashing was also an exercise in futility because the entire contest only took an hour, so I missed about half of it. I fail!

Finally Owen and I got to the panel room assigned to us only to find that it was closed off. I wasn't sure if we were allowed to use it so I ran to ask if it was closed off for the night. It wasn't, so we set up real quick and got people in. The audience had some great questions and I was happy to help answer them. After the demo, I dashed off to my room, only to find that the dealers occupying it weren't cleared out. I expressed my confusion to a staff member, only to be told that I could "maybe" present my panel in Main Events after the Feedback panel let out.

???

O... kay. I have been awake for almost 30 hours and now you want me to wait until after the feedback panel is done? Um... I'll go with "hell no" for $100, Alex.

Since no one showed up for the Go panel, I commandeered their panel room and set up in there. I gave everyone a few minutes to show up, entertaining the handful that showed up on time with an episode of Rainbow Brite from my hard drive, taking advantage of the projector and screen in the room. I realized later that no one else was showing, so I dove into the panel. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and I got some questions that I hadn't considered and may include next time I present it. While a lot of my basic information is the same, I like to say that no two panels are alike. Because no two audiences are alike!

After that, I packed up, said goodbye to the few people still around and headed home. A stop for gas caused a small scare becuase a guy jumped out of his SUV and asked if his buddy could borrow my debit card to pay for gas and they would pay me back in cash. Which would have been fine and good if:

1 - They weren't both running their cars. If his buddy was so hard up for gas, why was he letting his SUV idle?
2 - He ignored my suggestion that he try the next exit down. There are a few 24-hour places about 10 miles down.
3 - He declined my offer to call AAA for him.
4 - He approached me three times before I could get the pump into my car, insisting that he REALLY needed to use my card.

My usual "ohshitrun" reaction was delayed because my friends were in the car with me, but the third request gave me the bad vibe I needed to put the pump away and get out of there and heed my own advice to find a 24-hour place. That was not fun.

Finally, I got the girls home and I had just enough energy to put my stuff out of the way and crash hard.

Final Verdict:

This was a fantastic first effort by UNCC's anime club and one I'm looking forward to seeing develop in the coming years. The convention seems to have a great leadership going for it and the con-goers seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. Once they get more reliable people to help with the convention and people interested in presenting more programming, this could shape up to be a great spring convention!
I'm looking for roommates for Nashicon! I'm planning on reserving at the Clarion just a block away from the con for Friday and Saturday nights. If I get 3 people to room with me, it's only $45/head.

Further information is here. Contact me through all the usual means.
Stats

Picture Count: 211
FAIL Count: 1
Con Fails: 8
Hours Awake Pre-Con: 25
Roommates of Awesome: 9 (spread out over three days)
Cosplay Awards: 0
Brains Broken: Over 9,000!
Lollipops Eaten: 1
Con Prezzies: 1

Doujinshi haul

Linda Project 1 & 3 (Naruto)
Issues (Naruto)
Kyousei Shuuryou (Hellsing)
Gankutsuou
Hoard (Gankutsuou)

Non-smut swag

KefkaxTerra fanart (much hotness)
Player Pin logo shirt from The World Ends With You (Chris's con present)
Fanart of Death the Kid and Liz and Patty from Soul Eater (friend's con present)

It was the best of cons. It was the worst of cons. Well, mostly the worst. Care to share in the griping?

I knew you would!


Day 0:

I have discovered a drawback to working 3rd. Come con-time, I need to take two days off my usual Monday - Thursday schedule or stay awake for more than 24 hours to drive straight from work to my out-of-state cons. And hope that my roommates will be considerate enough to let me sleep afterwards. Neither prospect seems very appealing. But we'll see how it works out with more cons. A brief turnaround notwithstanding (which was just as well because I needed gas anyway and the detour got us to a gas station), we arrived at the hotel without incident. My whirlwind of activity was rather frantic because I needed sleep. So my roommates left me alone to sleep while they got the lay of the land.

Unfortunately, I only got 90 minutes before the door opening woke me up and my roommates' talking kept me awake. I started getting whiny and wanted to cry because I was quite tired. I finally just got up and dealt with it because the other roommates were trickling in and went to get pre-reg badges.

Derp. The con didn't have the badges because UPS hadn't delivered them yet. Furthermore, the driver didn't want to bring them because he didn't want to drive on the perfectly clear roads. (The snow was piled up quite high in National Harbor, but off the roads.) FAIL ONE.

Not their fault here, but considering this is a winter con, I would think that they would order the badges well enough in advance to account for inclement weather. If they do and this was fail on UPS's part, I cheerfully withdraw this comment. At any rate, there went one of three of my reasons for traveling the day before. (The other two being having all day to travel and hang out with friends before the whirlwind of activity that characterizes my weekend at the big cons.)

I wandered a bit with Sam, Ash and Sandy until we got an invitation to eat with Johnny, Stassie, Zand and Amanda at Cadillac Ranch. The friends didn't want to eat at the restaurant due to budgetary concerns, so they left me to wander while I caught up with my buddies. Afterwards, I walked around to catch up with random con buddies... until Fory-san noticed I was literally dead on my feet. I then realized that I was kinda zombie-like, so I bowed out to finally sleep.

Day 1:

A day filled with frustration and disappointment and some awesome moments. I started the day as Rainbow Brite and stopped for picture requests on the way to get my badge, which was a voucher to get my real badge later, which STILL had not arrived. FAIL TWO.

So I wandered with friends and we all hit the Maid Cafe. While the maids were adorable and attentive as always, the food wasn't very good and was rather overpriced. But it was fun to watch me eat my green salad with chopsticks and play with the mini-zen garden like a five-year-old would. After dinner, I decided to do some scouting in the dealer's room for a bit, promptly blowing my entire dealer's room budget on $100 of doujinshi. But Gankutsuou porn is a rare and oddly alluring find. Especially when it's Rainbow Brite buying it. They carded me for formality's sake, even though I'm old enough to know who Rainbow Brite is.

While going to stash my porn, I stopped to chat with Issa. Then I heard over a megaphone:

"Attention Rainbow Brite. It is time for a re-match. Prepare to be crunched!"

I looked over to see the awesome Minamimoto from AUSA approaching me. I jumped up, rainbow in hand. We were unable to move for a solid ten minutes from our poses. But he faced defeat at my hands once again and he wondered why he keeps losing to me. My theory is that Rainbow's only five, so she hasn't learned math yet. Or you just can't beat the cuteness that is Rainbow.

I went to do one last lap before changing and finally caught up with the con friends that kept promising to do Moonglow and Stormy for me. We got to posing and were loved on comepletely for being awesome. Getting constantly stopped for pictures afterward kept me from returning to the hotel in a timely manner, so I scrambled to get into Integra and make the Hellsing shoot before cosplay chess. I arrived 45 minutes late, but got asked for pictures from Eurobeat King. I can't wait to see them!

Next was cosplay chess. I don't know how to phrase my assessment. It was a little too... militant for my liking. While you do have to be firm about an event as deceptively complex as chess, you don't have to be borderline rude. The excessive directness aside, I had fun as Pawn Integra Hellsing. I was killed by Ryu and died gallantly about three moves in, but not before taking ribbing about JF, who was cosplaying Arystar Krory from D.Gray-man (a vampire), slowly approaching me.

Cosplay chess ended right at 9 pm, so I rushed off to change into my ballgown. It turned out that my rushing was an exercise in futility. The ball started an hour late. FAIL THREE.

We also had to be checked that our costumes were formal enough, where the decisions were as spotty as last year. While I got in okay (since my dress was merely a modified prom dress), both Adam and Sam almost didn't get in because Adam wasn't wearing a tie and Sam was in a suit. Never mind that several people ahead of them were tie-less and/or girls wearing suits. Then we had our hands stamped, to further make us feel like a group of teenagers. FAIL FOUR.

Furthermore, they stuck us in a room with no decorations, nowhere to sit, no water, and music completely inappropriate for a ball. A ball calls for slow music like waltzes, fox trots, etc. To complete the feeling that we were being treated like 7th graders, they played music that was one step away from rave music. I don't know if it was the con's fault or the DJ just didn't get the memo, but: FAIL FIVE.

I look forward to formal balls because I like to dress up and actually dance instead of dry-humping a near-stranger in day-glo fishnet while dodging flailing glowsticks. While I don't begrudge those that like that sort of thing, it's not for me. I take full offense when I have to go through the whole dog-and-pony show of making sure my gown is formal, triple checking my makeup and practicing my waltzes, only to have what I consider "my" dance to be turned into Just Another Rave.

After a rather cathartic bitch-fest with JF, who was equally pissed about the ball, I went back to the room to change into Fujiko Mine. While I brought Bondage-card, I didn't feel like putting on all the straps and suffering when I only planned to wear it for an hour or two before giving up for the night. So I just put on the leather pants and jacket and tried out my spiffy new wig.

Matt and Agnes came up and invited me to come drink with them. However, they didn't think to bring their usual liquor smorgasboard and there were no alcohol stores nearby. The only on-location bar open was on the top floor, so we went there. I had a lulzy when the man checking IDs did the double-take when he looked at my birthdate. As he handed it back to me, I said, "Yes, I'm really 30." He shook his head and said I didn't look it.

The bar was quite loud and the Guinness I bought didn't taste all that fantastic. I only had about half of the beer before I felt too buzzed to finish. I tried to wander a bit and found the Minamimoto again, who discovered that Rainbow Brite actually has an impressive rack. I started to feel the lack of sleep and food, so I went back to the room. I attempted to write my review and check my Email, but falling asleep while sitting up meant I needed bed right then. I gave up and let sleep take me into her loving embrace.

Day 2:

More erg.

I dragged myself out of bed at 7 am to brekkie up and get into Integra for cosplay rehearsal. While we didn't have to be in costume for it, I thought it was just as well that I be in costume. It proved to be a good decision because when we got on stage, we had no audio. When I realized what kind of audio setup the tech crew had, I made cracks about how Johnny fails at making CDs. Our fail, but: FAIL SIX.

So we dashed to my room to make use of my lappy to convert his WAV file to MP3 and burn another disc. Chris already had the program that Johnny needed, so we converted on his. But his lappy is rather old, so we transferred my harddrive to my lappy to make with the burning. Then to make sure that it worked, we went down to my car to test it in my CD player, since it's rather picky. If it plays on my car CD player, it will play on anything. It worked, so Johnny dashed back to the convention center while I sent out the APB that we had audio.

We got our tech stuff done just in time and a bunch of us decided that lunch would be beautimous. Indecision as to where to go, how far we wanted to walk, and some of our lunch members stopping every ten feet (or so it seemed to my food-and-sleep deprived and stress-filled brain) made me a whiny, unhappy kitty. I wanted food! And sleep! And the stress to stop piling up! This was supposed to be my relaxing weekend after topsy-turvy world at work and it wasn't! BAW!

When we got to the hotel en route to Cadillac Ranch, Matty came up with the brilliant suggestion of pizza. I did not know why I didn't think of that before. I made the order on the celly and had to repeat myself no less than three times because the guy taking my order was a rude, incoherent idiot. After I finally got off the cell, Bitch Kitty finally broke the surface and I had a nice little rant about the stupid pizza person. After Bitch Kitty left the building, I laid on the bed to combat dizziness and passed out for about an hour.

Pizza finally came and I was happy, smiley kitty again after I had food and apologized profusely for letting out Bitch Kitty because I felt completely horrible for letting my new con friends see her. We all went back to the con to actually enjoy it for a while before going to the Masq.

After some wandering and catching up with friends again, we went to go to the Masq. This was the first time I had ever been in a skit and I was quite nervous. Not only did I have "first skit" jitters, but the content of the skit was still making me giggle. To reiterate Big Danny T's assessment, we were dancing right on the line. During the skit, I caught myself getting giggly and bit down on my lollipop to keep from completely losing it. Which worked, because it looked like I was... ahem... really enjoying the lollipop. I couldn't see what my skit-mates were doing on the other side of the "door", but I could hear the raucous laughter coming from the audience.

Ash showed me the video she took of the skit, which had the reactions of my skit-mates. Their expressions and Johnny's reactions at the end SOLD it. And according to Sam, we had a standing ovation. I stuck around to watch the other skits and chat with friends and heard comments about how I'm still sucking the lollipop. (Hey, I had been waiting for three days to eat my root beer lolly!) I didn't pay much attention to the skits because I was trying to listen to my friend Fory-san. After the skits were done, I went to wander the dealer's room with friends, being told to come back at 8:30 for the awards presentation.

I came back early to get a good seat, only to find out that they were already handing out the awards. Perhaps they meant that everything would be done at 8:30 and we just misinterpreted, but: FAIL SEVEN.

I sent out the APB to my skit-mates to come NOW. We weren't called up and Johnny went backstage to double-check to see if we won anything and just missed it. Nope, no awards for us. We were all a little disappointed, but the purpose of the Masquerade is to entertain your fellow con-goers, not to feed your own ego.

And entertain we did! For the rest of the night and most of the next day, people stopped my skit-mates and me and praised us for making them laugh and entertaining them. It's good to know we were the People's Champ, which I believe is the most important award of all.

I went to change into Rainbow Brite and make the non-anime shoot. But before we could get started, we had to have a confrontation and FAIL EIGHT. Some jackass on the top floor was shining a laser pointer down on the atrium and some hyperactive teenagers were chasing the light. While it was annoying, we didn't say anything until they bumped into a guy trying to take pictures of our group and almost causing him to drop his rather expensive-looking camera on the brick floor. One of our group dashed to the front desk to get security on the laser pointer jackass and I grabbed the kids and asked them to stop running around since we were trying to take pictures and they were creating a safety hazard.

We started to pose again and the laser pointer appeared again. This time the kids multiplied and they were running all over the place in a rather tiny area. I ran back up and raised my voice to Drill Sargeant level to ask them AGAIN to please stop running around. If they didn't, I would happy to get staff to make them stop. While I wasn't mad and not quite in Bitch Kitty mode, I needed to make myself heard above the general din of the area and the screaming teenagers.

Here comes Angry Mom. They were here first! How dare I yell at her precious children for playing! I'm not staff and don't have a right to yell at them! And here comes another Angry Adult Parental Person to gang up on me. I tried to be diplomatic and explain to them that I had already asked them once, nicely, if they would stop running around. (Which they of course didn't see.) And running around like they were was against con policy anyway. (Which sparked the "are you staff" comments.)

My shoot-mates jumped in to rescue me and were FAR more confrontational. One of them got right in Angry Mom's face and questioned her parenting skills, reminded her that the place wasn't a day care center and wondered aloud if she would hold the hotel liable if one of her kids fell and hurt themselves.

I was horrified that this was degenerating into a fight. So I dived in to make another attempt at diplomacy. I told my shoot-mates that we would move to the other side of the fountain and the kids could resume running around on the side we were on. I apologized to Angry Mom for yelling at her children and tried to explain how the running around was a safety hazard. Angry Mom effectively spit on my olive branch.

I looking over at the kids, a couple of whom looked like they were about to cry. I felt completely evil and horrible. (I don't handle crying children well. And if I'm the cause, I feel 10 times worse.) Was I a bad kitty? My shoot-mates assured me that I wasn't a bad kitty, but I just wanted to get the shoot done, go off into a corner and cry. The jackass was still harrassing us with the laser pointer, so a guy that captured the jackass on film and I went up to the front desk to expedite things. They caught the guy while we were talking to the lady at the front desk.

The confrontation knocked me right off the cloud I was on after the Masquerade and was the frosting on the shitcake that was my mood the entire weekend. I felt completely horrible that I didn't handle Angry Mom and Precious Children better. I needed to go to my corner and have a poutfest, if not a cry. Ash found me, talked me down and assured me that I was a good kitty. Then we walked down to the fountain to have some shots of me making the water shooting out of the fountain into pretty rainbows and video of me being retarded and BAW-dorable.

I went back out to wander and the Rainbow love I received helped elevate my mood somewhat. Around midnight, I went to the gazebo because I was thinking about having some shots down there. But the gazebo was overrun with Black Butler cosplayers. After rolling my eyes (the costumes are gorgeous, but I tend to avoid popular series until the fandom calms down somewhat), I recognized several friends and went to join them. I had Amanda as Grell reprise the Rainbow Guts picture and asked to crash the shoot for a crack shot: Driscoll controlling his Rainbow Brite dollie to kill Ciel, with Sebastian coming in for the save. Then a guy attending the military ball in another wing of the center came up and asked to take pictures with us, grinning all the while. It was quite awesome and made me a happy kitty again.

As the shoot winded down, I wandered to the rave line and hung out with Matty and MerMer in the line and we got crack shots of us. Agnes and Matt joined us later and we got more shots. As the line started moving into the rave, I bid them adeiu because I needed to wash off con funk and do my pre-emptive packing. I promised to come back to hang once I had changed, but the bed was calling to me so seductively that I sent a text to apologize for being a bad friend and answered the siren's call.

Day 3:

MUCH BETTER DAY! Probably because I knew it was the last day and I was going home soon. I was missing my ChrisChris and I wanted to put all the bad, evil, frustrating experiences behind me.

Because almost everyone at the 5 pm Hellsing shoot wanted to see the Hellsing skit in the Masq, they rescheduled for 11 am on Sunday, so I chucked my plan for making Fuji-cakes my chill costume and donned Integra again. Much cracktastic shots followed that will probably make my parents disown me if they ever see them. After wrapping up, we migrated back to the room to check out, change and clear out.

I got to see Matty and Mary's Joker and Harley cosplays and promised to bring my Harley-kins to join them at some point in the future. And, to make me feel better about my less-than-stellar weekend, Mary bought me a Harley Quinn patch as a present. I don't know where I'm going to put her, but I'll find a place. Finally, the time came to go home, which I didn't want to happen because I was finally enjoying myself.

Final Verdict:

Let's face it: I didn't enjoy Katsucon as much as I could have. There were some great and truly epic moments, but from bell to bell, I was tired and cranky and halfway miserable. Add that to the horrible communication from the staff. (No one got confirmations on panels and/or skits until a week or two before the con.) And general MRR due some roommates' more annoying habits. My relaxing weekend spiraled into a huge stress-fest.

There were a lot of issues with the con. Most of which I've already addressed elsewhere. I hate giving bad reviews, but this year's Katsucon was poorly planned and had little of the awesomeness that made me fall in love with it last year. I'm willing to give it the benefit of a doubt and chalk most of it up to the mass exodus of the staff and the usual screw-ups that come with moving to a new center with different rules and policies. We'll see what next year will bring before I get all ragey.

Next stop: Stellarcon!
Picture Count: 15
Rainbow Fangasms: 3

Swag:
Inu-Yasha T-shirt
Angel, Devil and Princess pins from The Devil's Panties
"When did everyone get so young?" magnet

Not much to tell about this year's con. What the Hell? Con characteristically has a lot of downtime and I was only there for six hours, due to coming home stupid late from a midnight Magic draft (where I scrubbed out due to drafting with my head up my ass) and rushing to leave around 6 pm for a sealed Magic event (where I did surprisingly well considering I only had 3 minutes to build my deck and went through the entire tournament half-asleep).

So I'm departing from my usual format and just giving highlights.

- carrying around my Rainbow Brite doll and my newly acquired Twink doll, which got almost as much attention as my costume
- being recognized almost immediately by students on GTCC's campus and attracting more con attendees just because they liked the costume
- Jennie Breeden fangirling, squishing my poofy sleeves, posing for a picture with me and grabbing my Rainbow doll at almost every opportunity to play with it
- reconnecting with the Mary Jane cosplayer I met at Hero's Con and hanging out with her a bit
- pwning the handful of people playing DDR in one of the gaming rooms, despite wearing a costume that limited my movement (jumping too much caused my wig to fall off and I eventually shed it, my wig cap and belt to be able to move and breath properly) and playing on a pad I wasn't used to (I'm used to the thicker pads with raised buttons)
- one guy giving me the most epic fanboy reaction of all time, screaming "Oh my god! It's f*ckin' Rainbow Brite. You are the most awesome person ever!" and jumping up and down like a kid at Christmas
- explaining to an exchange student in the campus cafe about Rainbow Brite

All in all, What the Hell? con was a nice break from the chaos that I've been experiencing lately with switching to 3rd shift and full time and getting bombarded with commission requests now that con season is starting up.

Also, I think my friend Mike was correct in his assessment that I've found my "trademark" costume in Rainbow Brite. While Integra and Harley have made quite an impact, the one that's always requested is Rainbow. I don't think I can ever retire it now. I guess that's a very comfortable problem to have, but it strikes me as strange that Rainbow Brite, who is a polar opposite to my IRL personality, would be my trademark.

Next stop: Katsucon! Until next week, kids.
Picture Count: 124
Rainbow Pimp: Lupin III
Roommates: 1
Predictions confirmed: 3
Times macked on as Fuji-cakes: 3
Interference ran: 1
Con Stalkers spotted: 0
FAIL Count: 1
DVDs signed: 1

Swag: black and white kitty ears

DAY 1:

I was able to drag my ass out of bed shortly after Chris left for work, did my beauty routine, packed my last few con pieces, dressed, and played Animal Crossing while waiting for Mike. Shortly before 8 am, he called to tell me to go ahead without him and he'd meet me there, due to minor fail on his part. Funnily enough, he arrived at the hotel roughly 15 minutes afer I did, even after I warned him about the speed traps. XD

I Rainbowed and he Lupined up and we hit the con. Almost immediately, my first prediction of the con came true: the con area was TINY. Two panel rooms, a main events room and tiny lobby. The anime viewing room was a TV and some chairs set up in the lobby. The video game room was an alcove in the hallway. To say that the GWL is not intended for anime cons is an understatment.

A little (very little) wandering had me meeting up with the coordinator for cosplay chess, who was all ready to have Integra on the board. And the cosplay contest coordinator that was happy to have Rainbow Brite enter the craftsmanship contest

Nothing was going on, so I hit the '80s Cartoon Panel while Mike wandered. The guy admitted that he had never run a panel before, so I wasn't too disappointed when the panel became us watching an episode each of Dungeons n' Dragons and Inspector Gadget. I had expected a sort of discussion glossing over a bunch of old cartoons, but perhaps the guy will have something like that next time he runs this panel.

Aferwards, a group of us invaded the mall. The other four girls looked like normal otaku. Mike looked sort of normal in his Lupin gear. And I was dressed as Rainbow Brite. In a mall that's notoriously hostile to cosplayers. I had a several people stop me and ask what was going on and got stared at A LOT. It was kind of funny, but we weren't being disruptive or loud, so they couldn't really do anything.

We returned and it was Mike's turn to hit a panel (Ramen Eating Contest) and mine to wander. A chat with the chess coordinator revealed that she really wanted Lupin on the board. And, if I did Fujiko, we'd be king and queen for the anime side.

One sec. Run to the panel.

Mike? Want to?

YES!

K.

You have your king and queen, madam!

A quick trip around the dealer's room and a brief hangout had Mike and me retreating back to the hotel for a quick refuel and costume change (Spirit and Integra, respectively). We arrived back to the con in time for the anime improv panel. During the panel, I missed my shot at glory because they wanted someone really colorful to play a piccolo. Wasn't there a Rainbow Brite cosplayer earlier?

Mike quickly sold me out and I had to stand up in my Integra regalia and say, "I'm sorry! I changed!" Dammit. How dare I disappoint my public by being unable to read their minds! But they remembered me!

We wandered around for a little longer and then ducked back into Main Events to watch the Guests Uncensored panel, which was the usual crack that these kinds of panels are. Afterwards we stood outside and got to talk with Wendy Powell, who confirmed my second prediction: the GWL staff have been kinda awful to the con and the con staff has already decided to move to the Marriott next year. I had my FMA box set residing in Hobbs, but Mike's Sharpie was still in his Lupin costume, so I couldn't sneak a quick autograph. But going to her autograph session tomorrow as Rainbow Brite will be much more epic!

One advantage to the con being so small: We get to talk to the voice actors for more than five seconds. 'Tis awesome.

The night was finished at Steak n' Shake and we went back to the con so Mike could check out the rave and I could hang out a bit. Mike came out about 15 minutes later and we decided we were ready to call it a night.

Mike is now snoozing away and I'm waiting for my hair to dry.

Tomorrow: Lupin and Fujiko rule the anime side and I kill the con with cute!

DAY 2:

Wake up. Brekkie of mac n' cheese. Fujiko up to get ready for cosplay chess. Head to the con.

We hooked up with the rest of the cosplay chess people to find that the guest panel was running late. After listening to everyone vent about the organizational skills of the con staff, we waited patiently for the previous panel to wrap up and rushed the stage to get things set up.

The was the first panel our cosplay chess coordinator ever did, so she was of course stressing out. As a cosplay chess veteran, I ended up directing people to move chairs and helping make the board. While running back and forth with a Gaara cosplayer to lay down crepe paper and duct tape, Kyuubi and our coordinator recruited from the audience to fill in for drop-outs. Eventually, we realized that we were one row of squares short, so we mapped out an invisible row beside the stage lights and made do. One day, we'll learn to count!

But we got started and fun was had. After the pawn in front of Lupin was moved, I moved out and received a smack on my leather-covered butt from Lupin's stolen sword. LUPIN!

My reign as queen was short-lived. As per usual, I was the first piece taken out. (Why the hell does this ALWAYS happen with me?!) However, I let out a shriek worthy of any Scream Queen as a zombie chick choked me and Lupin reacted appropriately. Also, as per usual, I walked around the board taking pictures. The game was fun to watch after it got underway and Lupin got to do his dip-and-kiss to take out a piece. Mike plays Lupin to the hilt and I was happy to be his crack-tastic Fuji-cakes.

After we had cleaned up, we needed to recruit people to set chairs back up. We asked and pleaded, only to have the con-goers not help. So I hit upon probably my most brilliant idea all weekend: "If you help move the chairs back, you get your choice of seat for the next panel!" I have never seen con-goers move that quickly to be helpful! Once the room was mostly back to the way it was, Mike and I went to lunch at Ruby Tuesday. After the host seated us, our waiter came up and had this following spiel:

"Hello, I'll be your waiter." (Looks at Lupin.) "I see you are very sharply dressed today. And..." (Looks to me and notices the leather and cleave.) "I... am very jealous."

We were able to wait until he got our drink orders and walked away before we started laughing. I still don't know how we were able to hold it in for even that long.

Dinner was easily wrapped up and it was time to rush back to the hotel and change into Rainbow Brite for my judging. I hung out in the lobby for a while to be fawned over, but ended up seeking out less populated areas because the tiny area was CROWDED. While I'm okay with crowds, I was getting rather claustrophobic.

While Mike wandered, I got in line for cosplay. It was mostly walk-ons, so we all did our walk-ons and watched the skits.

No awards this go-round. Disappointing, since I was hoping to get one or two more awards under my belt for the costume before it gives way to Kefka as my "main" costume for the coming year. After the cosplay, I got with Mike again for another late-night Steak n' Shake run.

I got a lot of attention in the restaurant as Rainbow. Including a toddler that KNEW who Rainbow Brite is and wanted to meet me. And one of the staff members that wanted me to do stuff for her kids' Halloween party. (I can haz new bizness, nao?)

Back to the hotel room to change back into Fujiko and give Mike a bit more time to goof around with me as Chesty McRackBoobs. But, when we got to the convention, the lure of the rave was too much to resist. So Mike went to check it out and I wandered the lobby to chat with people and watch anime in the "viewing room".

One epic moment was one new con friend bringing her two guy friends over to see me as Fujiko and their talking to me while staring right at my girls. And another guy that called me over desperately, fell all over himself to hit on me... only for me to drop the bomb that I'm 30 and 5 years married. And, no, the husband's not here.

Once Mike had enough of the rave, we headed back to the hotel to dine on popcorn and watch Curse of the Golden Flower.

Tomorrow: EGL with my fangs and NEW KITTY EARS and finally getting my damned autograph from that elusive Wendy Powell!

DAY 3:

Mike and I both slept in a bit on the chill day of the con, due to chatting and watching our movie all night. Once we dragged ourselves out of bed, we got into Matt Greene and EGL, respectively. Then packed up our stuff, put it into our cars and met each other at the convention.

The guy marking out over my Fujiko costume dragged me over to pose for some group shots until I could break away to chat with people. My only goal was to finally get Wendy Powell's signature, so I mostly hung out with Mike, Owen and several other people while getting up occasionally to take random pictures.

Once the last guest panel let out, Mike and I hung out in the in the "last chance" autograph line so I could get Wendy's signature. She recognized me as the lady she talked to on Friday night and I told her some little girl wanted to give something to her, but had to get back to Rainbowland. Then I held out a package of Star Sprinkles for her. She was kinda bummed that she didn't get to see the Rainbow Brite cosplay, but I'll likely see her at another con. She signed the DVD and I went to the car to put it away and do my patented quick change routine by the car.

I wandered the con one last time to say to goodbye to people I knew and headed home. I didn't see anything that Chris would have liked as a con present, so I took him out to Racco's instead.

Final Verdict:

Communication skills pre-con, such as communicating about the events at the con and getting back to the people running panels and dealers'/artists' booths, was horrible. They didn't put up any information up on their website or the various forums they were advertising on until the week of the con. In fact, I heard a lot of convention regulars dub Ichibancon as "Fail Con" because they were so frustrated with the lack of organization and communication.

While the idea of holding a con at a waterpark seems like a good idea on paper, it would be more beneficial to keep in mind the target audience of the con and that of the venue. A con populated with mostly late-teens and 20-somethings are probably not going to be welcome at a venue targeting families with small children. And that was pretty evident with the disgusted looks con-goers were getting from the "norms" and resort staff.

All in all, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I had a good weekend in spite of my low expectations and enjoyed hanging out with people that I only see every few months, if that. Provided they iron out the issues with communication and remember not to depend on the draw of the hotel's aneminities to get people to come, I may be persuaded to attend next year.
  • Watching: ECW
STATS

Picture Count: 224
FAILs Bagged: 6
Voice Actors Fangasming Over Rainbow: 4
DVDs Signed: 3
Doujinshi Bought: 4
Con Stalkers: 3

SWAG

3 Hellsing doujinshi (Alucard x Integra, Alucard x Seras, Alucard x Rip / Yumie & Heinkel x Vatican)
1 Naruto doujinshi (Orochimaru x Anko)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon manga, Vol. 1 - 4
Kingdom of Selfish Love manga
Pentacle
Orochimaru print
Tom Nook plushie (con present for Chris)

DAY 0

The trip up was uneventful, with one stop for gas and one to pick up another roommate in Fredericksburg. After getting everyone in the room, key cards distributed and sleeping arrangements handled, we headed down to get our passes and get dinner at Mackey's Pub.

Dinner hit a huge snag as we proceeded to wait an hour for the waitress to even take our order. The waitress never checked on us, refilled only a few of our drinks, and looked like she was smelling garbage whenever she looked our way. Her tone was very short and snitty whenever she spoke with us. At the end of dinner, she took forever to even bring us our check, which severely tempted me to advise everyone to walk out without paying. (Curse my honesty!)

Needless to say, I spoke with the manager before leaving about the waitress's behavior. Yes, we are weird and look funny in our costumes, but our money is as green as anyone else's. I will be avoiding this restaurant whenever I'm in the area.

That unpleasantness aside, we finished out the night by watching AMV porn and screwing around on my lappy.

Tomorrow, Hellsing gets some love!

DAY 1

Not as much Hellsing love as I expected, but those that recognized me as Integra loved my cosplay. The new suit actually does fit better, so it was a lot more comfortable and I didn't feel like I was going to die or have to peel it off.

After some initial wanderings, I ate lunch with JohnnyStarwind and cosplaygirl003 at the Maid Cafe and had their delicious pasta primavera and chocolate cake combo. It was $12 well spent. A quick sign-in for cosplay chess and I was off to help host a panel!

Waffles drafted me into her and Zand's "Preparing for a Con" panel, due to my experience with con-going and traveling in general. It looked like the panel was not going to happen due to no attendance, but people slowly started trickling in and Waffles got started. I was able to provide a lot of stories to illustrate her points. It was amusing to see Waffles so flustered, because I felt the same way during my panel at Librari-Con. She and Zand did wonderfully and I was honored to help out.

Afterwards, I wandered a bit in the dealer's room for shopping recon. While perusing the doujinshi booths, I met one of the best salesmen EVAR, who immediately saw me and said, "Let me guess. You are loooking for HELLSING SMUT!" I... was. He promptly pulled out his entire Hellsing inventory and let me look through them. I settled on two titles and decided to challenge him on a extremely rare find: Orochimaru x Tsunade.

No luck, but he did have some Naruto porn. Most of it featured pairings I didn't ship, but there was a very nice Orochimaru x Anko one. After perusing it with my roommates, it was decided that I have to do Anko. After seeing that doujinshi, I'm... not sure I wanna! But I'll take my Orochimaru smut where I can find it... as long as it isn't with Sasuke.

Next was Troy Baker's autograph signing, which was quick and painless. He liked my Integra costume (I didn't have time to change into Oboro like I wanted) and happily signed my Trinity Blood DVD with "Krushnick Kisses". More aimless wandering and cosplaygirl003 and I got ready for the ball.

After exhaling and grunting on my bustier and gown, we looked for the Hellsing shoot, which never happened. Ball it was then. We found some Hellsing peeps in there and hung out with them. We were amused to watch as the lead singer of the live band got steadily louder the more she noticed us attendees weren't paying attention to her. Since I was technically stag, I was free to dance with whomever I damn well pleased, like Jaraiya, Hollow Ichigo and Jeremiah. The last dance was with some random guy that actually flirted and hit on me a bit. He was a complete sweetheart that made me "sorry" that I had a husband waiting for me at home. I hung out with my fellow Hellsing fans a bit before climbing out of the dress and resting.

Hunger from my fellow roommates had us buying pizza and I scarfed down a few slices before slapping on Bondage-card and wandering around. Not much recognition, but those that did loved the costume and my masochism. I hung out with Greed and Renee to watch some cracked videos. Greed broke off to be with Renee and I joined up with JohnnyStarwind and cosplaygirl003 to listen to some bad fanfiction.

Realizing that I may want some sleep before waking up for cosplay chess in the morning, I said my good nights and slunk off to take off the leather, shower and set out a few things for the morning.

Tomorrow, I kill the con with CUTE!

DAY 2

Mission accomplished.

Rainbow Brite was her usual big hit. My day started with dragging my butt out of bed and hopping over to McD's to get a quick brekkie before pinning on Rainbow for cosplay chess. Apparently, I was an "alternate" piece, intended to fill in if a "planned" piece didn't show. However, a bunch of pieces did not show (predictably, though Waffles had a legit excuse of food poisoning), so we were grabbing random people from the con to fill in. Apparently, the coordinator forgot that I was a registered piece and was the first one to check in. So all my responsibility and ensuring I got everything done for the event was for naught. -10 points.

The coordinator seemed to have noticed that he had more or less overlooked me and had me help him with organization and handing out piece assignments. I took it upon myself to be the "clear-up" person and to rile up the crowd to get them into the match. After each battle, I swooped in to escort the defeated piece to Rainbowland.

Aside from my gripes about disorganization and disappointment over not being on the board, I did like some aspects about the organizational side, such as numbering the squares so the pieces could keep track of where they were and having the pieces clear the board to give the battlers a lot of room to fight. I can certainly see where the complaints about the event come from. The complaints can be resolved with being clearer with the communication and more firm about enforcing policies. Another suggestion would be taking a page out of the Animazement crew's playbook and delegating certain duties to different people, instead of having only one person do everything for what is a super-complicated event. If I make AUSA a regular stop on the tour, I would love to help out with the event, combining my experience from helping at AZ with what I've seen this year.

After chatting with the coordinator, I joined Zand for another trip to the Maid Cafe, which I consider the best part of the con. While eating with Zand, we watched the table beside us go through an epic game of Jenga. As I finished my cake, an impromptu karaoke contest was announced and I volunteered to sing "Moonlight Dentetsu" (the Sailor Moon theme). I won the contest because I knew (most of) the words in Japanese and, well, I'm Rainbow F'n Brite. My self-study of the language paid off because I knew what some of the words meant, so I could make gestures like pointing from me to the crowd during the "ima sugu aitai yo" ("I want to see you now") line.

My prize: A free picture with as many of the maids as I wanted. Since they were busy, I came back at close and grabbed four of them for a picture. (But all the maids wanted in!) I asked them to hold my rainbow for the picture and they ended up forming it into a heart! Baw! I can't wait to see how it turned out!

More wandering had me meeting up with the extremely awesome Kefka I met at Otakon earlier this year. To my surprise, he remembered me and mentioned the "political venture" we were embarking on to his friend. That meant that he read the demotivational "campaign" picture I made on my DeviantArt! I don't know why that tickles me so much, but I'm extremely flattered over it.

Afterwards, I wandered before the non-"anime" shoot. Unfortunately, my "squirrels on crank" assessment of con-goers proved to be spot-on once again, as the majority of people that said they were coming never showed. We made the best of it and I got perhaps my favorite picture of the con: Rainbow Brite cuddling with her new boyfriend Flapjack! And the aftermath of them finding Candy Island, thanks to a helpful dumping of candy wrappers on us.

A dizzy spell spelt "food time" for me, so I went to Chili's for a salad and fries. On the way down, the security guard for one of the buildings called me out and said that I was the first costume he recognized all day! *squeak* After feeding myself, I headed back to the room to rest and re-adjust my garments.

I dawdled until it was time to head down for Steve Blum. I picked up Orochi-Chan (my Orochimaru plushie) and the two DVD sets I brought to have signed. It was good that I arrived early because quite a line was already forming for the signing. Unsurprising, since he's in everything.

Two children approached me while I was in line, with one of them asking me: "May I ask where you got that Orochimaru plushie?" After my initial shock at how well-spoken this kid was, I explained that I got Orochi-chan at Hero's Con. And then the children itemized their list of Naruto swag and their knowledge of the show. I was quite impressed. Kids never cease to amaze me. A mother brought her daughter over to introduce me and get pictures as well. The chibi overload served as a distraction for the two and a half hours I stood in line. When I finally got to Steve, he loved my Rainbow costume and my "sweet" voice. He even told me that I may want to consider voice acting because my Rainbow voice was so good!

On a whim, I bought an Orochimaru print for him to sign and he used the Orochimaru voice as he wrote, "Let's throw up snakes together!" I was biting my thumb to keep from squealing! He also signed my Big O set ("Kat! Showtime forever! Ah... memories!") and my Cowboy Bebop set ("Kat! Bang."). He posed for a picture with me and Orochi-chan after signing my stuff. When I wandered back around three hours later, he was still at it! That is some dedication!

I swung back upstairs to deposit my stuff, grab a snack and wandered around to give out my sugar fixes. Close to midnight, I hung out in the room to get ready for a panel that my friends wanted to drag me to. The panel wasn't my cup of tea and I was feeling a little manky in the costume, so I bowed out for one last lap around the hotel before retiring for the night.

Now, a little sleep and the last day of the con. And thanks to a request from a mother, Rainbow's getting another day of spreading the cute!

DAY 3

I decided to sleep in a bit because I didn't really have anywhere to be. When I finally rolled out of bed around 10 am, I went to put on Rainbow Brite. cosplaygirl003 told me as I was dressing that there was a chibi Rainbow Brite looking for me. So I rushed to get everything on, which, of course, invoked Murphy's Law. The elastic was falling out of my bloomer leg, eliciting a quick repair. My safety pins spilled all over the place while I was pinning myself. And my makeup proved to be temperamental. Finally, I got everything on, booted up the Rainbow Voice of Cute and DOOM and went to find Chibi Brite. As I wandered, I scored some super cheap manga ($1/each): volumes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and a yaoi that I heard good things about. (The fact that I was dressed as a 5-year-old while buying it was not lost on anyone.) I also scored a nice pentacle to replace the one I lost at Nekocon.

I posed with several children that recognized the cosplay. Disturbingly enough, one of the little girls that fangirled over me said that she was going to friend me on Facebook and wanted to chat with me and be my bestest friend in the whole world. My mind wandered back to the doujinshi squirreled away in my suitcase... and broke my mind as this child waxed poetic about befriending Rainbow Brite.

As I was talking to a fellow cosplay chess participant and her partner, I got surprise glomped by Chibi Brite. There was also a rave-style Brite running around. Chibi Brite insisted that we had to find her together, with Mom coming along for the ride. I didn't have the heart to say no (as long as it was cool with Mom) and texted my friends that I had been kidnapped by Chibi Brite. The child grabbed my hand and dragged me all over the convention areas. We quite literally killed my friend Fory-san with teh cute and had a few small mobs taking pictures of us.

Finally, it was time for them to pack up and leave, which prompted Chibi Brite to start to pout. To stop the tears before they started, I promised her with all my heart and soul that she could talk to me online and send me Emails. And I would see her again soon enough. I had to go back to Rainbowland and help the Color Kids!

Ye Gods. I think I've earned a fan for life. Fo realz. It's the perfect touch for this weekend.

I hiked back up to the hotel room and peeled off the costume. Those of us still around went to have a post-con dinner at Chili's, where we told dirty jokes and compared con experiences. Then back to the room to look at pictures and trade more con stories.

It is now 4 am and one of our roommates is packing to go home. I will try to sleep before driving through VA and all over NC to drop off everyone and then sleep the sleep of sleeping sleeps.

Final Notes

Gripes:

- The con did not seem to be that organized initially and it was difficult to get information at some points. I'm guessing that being understaffed is the cause of that. However, when rules are being changed on the fly (such as the ball's "no boots" rule turning into a "formal and Ren boots only" rule and back to "no boots" and then letting people like me in when I'm wearing my bitch boots), that weakens my faith in one's ability to organize.

- A request of the con-goers at the Crystal City Hyatt: Please stop messing with the elevators. Hitting every button on the panel is something 4-year-olds do. And closing the door on an infant in a stroller doesn't make you funny. It makes you a complete douchebag. (Luckily, the baby's mom was able to pull the stroller back in time before the doors closed on it.)

- Not really a gripe, but a disappointment: Low FAIL count is low. My friends kept insisting on drawing me into the 18+ / porn panels because my reactions are always amusing. (The best thing about Rule #5* is that there's no telling what will set me off.) By the time I could break away to change and start the Hunt, I was done for the night. Damn you, my friends, for causing me to shun my duties of publicly humiliating sleeping con-goers to watch bad porn!

- I had to go into Bitch Kitty mode for Waffles on Day 3, due to a booty call going way too far. (She was uncomfortable with confronting the involved parties, so I stepped in for her.) While I don't like being Bitch Kitty, her presence was necessary this time. In light of this situation, one party has made everyone's permanent blacklist. The other two did have the decency to apologize about it, yet still made everyone's blacklist but mine (but I did give one a pretty stern talking-to). I don't know what made them think taking the situation that far was okay, but I'm never allowing it to happen when I host. Booty calls in my room are now officially banned. Either take it somewhere else or keep it in your pants.

- The same person that made things awkward Sunday night decided to be a complete dillweed the next day while I was driving him home and kept intentionally giving me the wrong directions to his house. I was tempted to just pull over, throw his stuff out of my car and tell him to walk home because I was quite tired of his BS. (Especially considering that I still had to take Greed home and the girls' mom asked me at the last minute to bring them home to Smithfield instead of sticking to the original plan of picking them up at my house/Hypermind. I didn't get home until 11:30 pm as a result. Couldn't be helped this time, but not something I want to make a habit of doing.)

- I don't know what it is about DC, but the DC cons tend to draw out the trolls. I noticed more idiocy at Katsucon and AUSA than I did at Animazement and Nekocon. Treating other con-goers like garbage and pulling stunts that the hotel staff have to clean up and/or repair later doesn't make you cool and edgy. It just shows how immature you are.

Love:

- The Maid Cafe and Ball are easily the best parts of the con! The food in the cafe is delicious and the maids work hard to entertain us. And it's all reasonably priced! And the Ball is a great alternative for those of us that don't like the dances, but still want to dress up and look pretty. I made so many new friends by grabbing random people to dance.

- My roommates were WIN! With the above-mentioned exceptions, I loved everyone I roomed with! Watching awful hentai AMVs and making inappropriate one-liners made the trip worth it. Thank you so much, Waffles, for having me.

- The mom in me loves making the con for kids and seeing the little kids gushing over Orochi-chan and Rainbow Brite filled my BAW-meter to bursting.

- New friends! New friends! New friends!

- Props to AUSA staff for being on top of con idiocy. Namely, a bunch of frat-looking boys pulling some kind of stunt on the escalators and security telling them: "Do it again and you're out of here." Much love for that!

The Verdict

I'm definitely considering coming back next year. The Hyatt is an awesome hotel and it's a nice chill con (without being a "hang-out" con, like Nekocon or ConCarolinas) to finish out the year with.

_______________________________________

*Rule #5: Don't give Tigress ideas. She takes them to bad places.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EDIT: Regarding the awkwardness on Sunday night, the fallout has finally settled and all the parties involved apologized to everyone for making them uncomfortable, which I respect. The only thing I have left to say regarding that is: I don't begrudge what two adults do behind closed doors. As long as it's safe, sane and consensual, have a ball. But when that space is shared by 8 people (roughly 15 at the con's peak), said space really is not the place for it. If you want to do it badly enough, get your own room where you can have all the space and time you need.
That's right. I just had four people tell me that they were interested in rooming with me, bringing the total to 10! Needless to say, I'm not accepting any more roommates at this time.

The current list stands at:

Ash Donadeo
Sandy Barnes
Waffles
Keila
Keila Boyfriend
Intraventus
Intraventus Boyfriend
sharkninja
sharkninja sister
Me

July is a long way away, so if any of you on this list are unable to make the con, please tell me as soon as you are able. Canceling at the last minute (like what happened with Nekocon) earns the instant wrath of the Bitch Kitty.

E-mail is your best bet. You can also send me a message via AIM (TigressWWA) even when I'm not online. My cell number is also available upon request.
  • Watching: ECW
Picture Count: 165
FAIL Count: 16
Group hugged as Rainbow Brite: 2
Voice Actors squeeing over Rainbow: 2
DVDs / box sets signed: 5

Swag:

Legend of the Dark Crystal Volume 1, signed by the artist
Gosu Rori Vol. 14
Anthropomorphic white tiger print
Sadako comedy print
Alucard / Hellsing messenger bag

Day 0:

The trip up was largely uneventful, with only one potty break. I arrived at the hotel at 4 pm and settled in to do some sewing while waiting for everyone to get in. I believe I was the first of any of my friends to arrive.

After Cy and Brenden got in, I put on Bondage-card to get my pre-reg. They seem to have resolved their issues last year, but no schedules were printed to allow me to plan out my friggin' weekend. -10 points there. After pre-reg, we went back to the room and ordered pizza for dinner. I did a quick repair for Mike and chatted a bit. Now I'm typing the report as my lack of sleep rapidly catches up with me.

Day 1:

I passed out a little after midnight and woke up again at 6 am. After laying in bed and cursing my body for a bit, I grabbed the free brekkie. After being annoyed about the schedules not coming out until 10ish and greeting a few familiar faces in the reg line, I went back up to my room to put on Integra. The lack of panels had me wandering around aimlessly and getting recognized pretty regularly. I broke off several times to run back upstairs to rest and eat and get Greg Ayres' autograph on my DN Angel DVD. He liked my Integra costume as well. I also scored a signed copy of Legend of the Dark Crystal and Gosu Rori Vol. 14, which just came out.

I'm disappointed that the booth that had a smorgasboard of Gosu Roris from last year (and started me on this collection kick) didn't return to the dealer's room this year. I was hoping to buy some of the older ones if I could wrangle a deal. I also found a gorgeous Ah! My Goddess artbook, but it was a little out of my price range at $53.

At around 9:30 pm, I changed into Bondage-card to wander about a bit. I earned a fangirl that squeed when I kissed her hand and several male fans that admired my masochism and BFGs. Around 11:30, instead of checking out the shibari panel, I had had enough and called it a night, taking some time to run a few things to my car.

Tomorrow, Rainbow Brite kills the con with cute! And the debut of Candlejack!

Day 2:

Rainbow Brite ruled the con, but no cosplay contest win for me this go-round. I simply got blown out of the water competition-wise. However, the judges loved my costume and talked about it with me afterwards. They loved that I had a bunch of different "rainbow weapons", which they thought was an ultra cute touch. Watching the skits gave me a few ideas for Rainbow Brite skits, including Rainbow vs. Epic Villians (they're no match for the cute!) and Rainbow beating the crap out of the re-vamped version of Rainbow Brite that will be debuted by Playmates soon. (You know it was a nefarious plot by Murky and LUrky!)

I gave out about 3/4 of the candy I brought and generated a lot of interest in Kat's Play. Whether that translates in a truckload of commissions remains to be seen.

I got some great crossover pics as Rainbow: fighting Candlejack, tiny miniskirts, Ronald McDonald and Rainbowing a pimp coat. Because the craftsmanship judging ran opposing the Glass/Clinkenbeard/Hebert signing, I had to get judged really fast and run to make it to the signing. Caitlin and Colleen FANGIRLED over my costume and fawned over me. And they loved the Star Sprinkles.

My only real gripe about the cosplay was that there were a few communication issues about how to handle the craftsmanship-only contestants. But that seemed to get ironed out relatively quickly. In between cosplay and signings, I got stopped roughly every five feet for pictures and to give candy out to fans. Most of the pictures I took were of obscurish anime.

At around 8:30, I went to change into Harley Quinn for the creep show shoot. That turned out to be an exercise in futility, since the shoot never happened. Not letting the makeup go to waste, I impressed people with my Harley voice and Mr. Sledgey until the makeup drove me insane and I scrubbed it off. After changing into street clothes, I hung out with Mike before he called it a night.

Tomorrow, Oboro, Richard Epcar and home!

Day 3:

I slept in a bit, as I usually do on the last day of the con. I had nowhere to be until 11, so I got my brekkie and loaded the last few bits of stuff in my car. After putting on Oboro, I wandered around and watched as people vaguely recollected the costume. ("You're that GIRL, from that ANIME!" was the reaction.) I shopped and a few people remembered me as Rainbow Brite from the previous day thanks to Hobbs. (I carry my tiger backpack with all my costumes so people will know me after changing costumes.)

I met Epcar around 11:30, and he loved the fact that I brought him a Noein DVD to sign. I like bringing the obscure stuff to sign because it's something different and I tend to shy away from the more popular series. I felt bad for Kyle Hebert because he looked kinda hurt that I didn't bring him anything to sign, but he's best known for Dragonball Z, which I'm not a big fan of. I'll see him at Animazement anyway, so I'll try to bring him something with Vato Falman on it for him to sign.

After the signing, I checked out and did a quick change in the parking lot into street clothes. The change was easily done since my kimono covered everything, so no one that happened to look in my direction was any the wiser.

I walked around to get a few more pictures and add to my FAIL hunt. Funnily enough, I got a big reaction to my "Team Alucard" shirt and fangs. Some people asked for my picture just because they liked my shirt!

I wandered to the LARP room to hang out with Mike, Matt, Agnes and Eric while they finished out their game. After the LARP concluded, all of us sans Eric went to Golden Corral to eat and chatted before we all scattered to the winds.

Final Verdict:

The con was fun (in spite of a few organization issues) and a good break from a rough couple of weeks. However, the size and time of the con will probably prevent it from being a usual stop on the "tour". The con also had a disturbing amount of "rave kids" that literally only attended the con to party, instead of coming to be nerds.

If I can get the roommates (that DON'T flake out on me a week before the con) and there is enough motivation (like the glut of voice actors I wanted to see this year), I'll probably add it to the tour for next year. We'll see.

Next stop: AUSA!
  • Watching: Bleach
I'm starting to get a lot of roommate requests for Katsucon, so I just need to do a quick check to see who all is actually committed to going before I start accepting more.

Here's the list as it stands now:

Greed
Zip-Chan
Ash
Waffles
Sam
Sandy
Mary
Matt


Just drop me a quick line to let me know that you're actually coming.
We are a little over a month away from Nekocon and all my roommates officially backed out due to various financial factors. One of my roommmates said that two of her friends wanted to room with me, but they have yet to contact me themselves. I'm still waiting on my brother to see if he can make it, but he would rather have his vacation closer to his birthday, which is the following weekend.

So here's the deal: I need 3 - 7 people for my room. I'm booked at the Embassy Suites, right beside the convention center. If you are interested, contact me at katsplay@katsplay.net or via AIM at TigressWWA. If you have overflow, have your extras contact me.

Per-head breakdown and room guidelines are here.

If I don't get any roommates by October 15, I will most likely room with one of my other friends and cancel my reservation.

UPDATE: The two friends have finally contacted me and gotten the pertinent information from me. I'd like at least one more roommate to bring the cost down to $115/head.

UPDATE 2: Up to 5! Anyone else want to join us?