So we’ve made it to the end of another season. Otakon 2012 has come and gone, and after the wild success we had there last year, we could only imagine what this year was going to hold for us.
What we got was probably one of the wildest rollercoaster rides we’ve ever been on. And I’ll let you in on something about me: I HATE rollercoasters. (The only present-day exception is Aerosmith’s Rock ‘N Rollercoaster in Disney Hollywood Studios.)
The wild ride began literally on the drive down. In the past 3 years that I had been running Sonic Whammy Enterprises as both its own entity and as part of Disorganization XIII, short but intense rainstorms hit New Jersey while I drove the NJ Turnpike. This year, the streak continued, and it was the worst storm yet. Once it started, we were continuously racing with it, and not only were we losing to it, but these storms were so massive that on at least 3 occasions, we could barely see a car length in front of us. It’s also the first time in my life that I’ve ever had to actually put my high beams on when I drove. Somehow, Robert, Francis & I finally managed to reach our hotel in Linthicum just after 11PM. Trevor, though, was not so lucky. You can read his blog for more on that, but still, between the twice in 3 years that he’s had weather issues, and the now 4 for 4 rainstorms I’ve faced, we just really don’t have a good track record trying to get to Otakon.
Once we did get there, though, things started to come together. Friday started with a touching moment that I didn’t plan for. I was talking with a non-otaku family of 3 vacationing from Illinois while on the light rail heading toward the Baltimore Convention Center. The son, about 5 years old, was asking questions about Otakon and what everyone was dressing up as. At one point, he asked if anyone cosplays as Indiana Jones. I said I had never seen it, and Robert & Francis said they only ever saw it once long before we met. Minutes later, we all get off the light rail and pass by the front of the BCC, and as luck would have it, there standing in the registration is a middle-aged man dressed as Indiana Jones! The kid was really happy to see that, and the parents were happy, too. It’s awesome when you can make someone’s day like that.
For me, the rest of the con leading up to showtime was mostly straightforward. In my classic (and only) Ryu cosplay, I completed our Family Feud surveys in preparation for our show, attended my Fighters Megamix photoshoot after dinner, and fulfilled my Otakon tradition by taking in a little bit of Fan Parodies that night. (I’ll say more about that another day.) Saturday, revolved around final preparation, but I had some fun taking part in a mock Pokemon battle with a Typhlosion cosplayer against a Jirachi – one that became the LONGEST… Pokemon battle… EVER. After that was over, those of us in Panel Ops were treating to an hour of silliness as a couple of people were firing a nerf-like disc launcher off the tall walls of the room trying to hit a stack of plastic cups clear across on the other side. Easily the most different amusement I’ve ever had at a con to date.
But now we come to showtime. The room filled its 600-seat capacity right away, and coupling this with the over $1,000 in prizes I snatched up from the Dealer’s Room, this was our biggest show ever. And then… disaster.
Up to this point, the laptops I’ve been using to run this show have been my now 7-year old Dell Inspirons. The batteries and their plugs, however, are now officially failing all around. So, for the first time, my present Toshiba L675, with its own set of issues, was called into service. And in the final preparation, a new issue presented itself: It wouldn’t take the DVI feed! That means we had NOTHING projecting on the screens! What do we do now?!
Well, we pull together with our fans, that’s what we do. Family Feud went on despite having no screen, with my shouting the results of each answer from the back of the stage as Trevor called for them. During that time, an audience or staff member (I never found out which) brought their laptop up to us, and the test run worked out. So we moved the files to that laptop as soon as Feud was over to do Card Sharks. That went great, but then we were faced with only 20 minutes to do Press Your Luck, and that was WITH a 15-minute extension that we received. After a lot of debate, I made the call to go forward. And somehow, thanks to an insane combination of events, we pulled it off, with a finish that made the audience explode several times. In fact, the crowd stayed with us and gave us 100% of their enthusiasm all the way through. That’s the sign of a great panel, and to those of you that came to our show and are reading this, we thank you more than words can tell.
While we’re thanking people, I would also like to thank a few select fans of our show. First, special thanks to Kristen “Sai” Ludewig, Sean “Taicho X” Blouch & Abby “Minion” Davis for the loan of their copy of the Family Feud software. (They hosted Feud at last year’s Otakon, and you’ll see that very soon.) Next, to our Card Sharks dealer, Elizabeth “Elisto” Ingianni, an awesome friend to us, as Robert will attest to. And finally, to two of our most devoted fans – and former contestants along with Kristen & Abby – Liz Reedt & Justin Cohen, who took the time to hang with us both after the show and the following morning. All of these guys are some of the best friends I’ve made on the con scene since I started this, and I hope to make many more in the years to come.
Oh, incidentally, I found out today with the help of Trevor and Bryan Espinoza of Florida Whammy Entertainment what my laptop’s problem was. Turns out that the driver for the DVI port was out of date. Having never used it before now, I would’ve never guessed. But we got it updated this morning, and it works fine. With luck, we should not run into that problem ever again.
So, despite the storms, the 2AM nights, the technical difficulties and everything else, we pulled it off and had an amazing time once again. Otakon, we thank you for another amazing season finale, and for proving that as much as I hate rollercoasters, there are some that are worth the ride.