Disclaimer: Daniel Smith is kind of a writer for us now. We are pretty sure he managed to turn spell check off, and he is terrible about subject-verb agreement, but no one else will write about this stuff for us. He is really a bargain because all we pay him with is half eaten cans of Pringles. He is also | this close | to going Super Saiyan because Georgia Tech football starts Thursday and Dragon Con starts Friday and his Fantasy Football draft is Monday. He is busy.
Dragon Con. People spend thousands of dollars on flights, hotel rooms, touristy stuff. For some, this is their one big vacation for the year. For some, this will be the highlight of their year. I’m lucky. I live in Atlanta, and I get college football and Dragon Con all in the same chunk of time. I remember before Dragon Con was the huge deal it is now. I went to Dragon Con back in 98 and 99 as a middle schooler. There MAY have been 20K people there over the course of the weekend. Now you will see 20K people in line to talk to Karen Gillan. When I was a kid, the parade was a cool thing to watch. Now Lt. Uhura herself will be the grand marshal. I’m not gonna lie, didn’t even outline this article out. Just flying by the seat of my pants because Dragon Con is too big of an event to try and squeeze into my head at any one point.
I’m sure most people think of nerds in costumes when they hear Dragon Con. Those people are not wrong. You will see some of the most amazing costumes. You will see everything from a Groot by HurleyFX that looks like it stepped right out of the screen to a pink Bender bitching about breast cancer. Power Ranger fan? There is always at least one good Green Ranger walking around. Harry Potter nut? There are enough wizarding robes to cover Rhode Island. Fan of the Force? You will find a full Stormtrooper regiment, complete with a kilt-wearing bagpipe division, in the parade. It really is an experience where you can see any of your childhood heroes just walking around drinking a beer. I once saw Speed Racer on a smoke break. Damn near magical, that was.
Now, let’s talk about this parade. At 10AM this Saturday, starting at Peachtree and Linden, there will be a mile long parade. You will see stormtroopers, Doctors, cartoon characters from yesteryear, Delorean time machines, dragons… you name it you will see it. You might even see a guy dressed up as The Dude enjoying an actual joint. Netherworld always has a pretty bad ass float. As I mentioned before, Nichelle Nichols is the grand marshal this year. Some of the more colorful parade marchers will come right up to the side of the street and interact with you. I’ve done it. (I was the pink Bender I mentioned.) Oh, and I almost forgot about all of the cars you will see from different fiction. I mean, there must have been ten Ghostbusters cars there last year… at at least five of them looked really good. If you are reading this and thinking, “Wha…,” please stop trying to make a Ghostbusters car out of a Volvo station-wagon. It is not going to happen. I once saw the most bitching Mach-5 driven all the way from Michigan. As cool as the parade is for adults, it is amazing for kids. Except for that time kids were yelling, “Bender, show us your booze.” Those kids looked about six. Maybe someone should keep an eye on them.
Let’s not forget about all of the guests at Dragon Con. I already mentioned Nichelle Nichols and Karen Gillan, but there are loads more. Stephen Amell from Arrow is going to be there. John Barrowman from Torchwood, Doctor Who, Arrow… (he doesn’t need any more qualifications) is going to be there. Doc Hammer is going to be there. OK, thing about Doc Hammer, ask him about his time traveling ring. Not even joking, had a conversation with him about it a few years back, ask him and then thank me. Timothy Zahn is going to be there. You know, the guy who came up with Grand Admiral Thrawn, the character that Disney is going to wish they could use. There are way too many to name, but I really have to mention one more: Caroll Spinney. If you don’t know who that is your parents failed you. He was, IS, Big Bird. Seriously, how many of us owe part of our early childhood development to Sesame Street? I want to personally thank him for tricking me into learning stuff when I was a kid. For a list of guests and performers and, well, everything, click here.
I guess I should talk about gaming at Dragon Con. If you go to Dragon Con, you can find game voice actors, game designers, and even celebrities indulging in their favorite hobbies. A buddy of mine once saw Wil Wheaton drop in on a game of D&D because the guys playing were down scotch and Wil saw them as “my people.” You can find places to play tabletop games in the basement of the Hilton (I’m like 90% sure it is the Hilton). You can even find some tournaments. I played an SW:CCG tournament there when I was a kid. I beat a girl who proceeded to cry and cry and cry until her boyfriend came over and called me a “fucking asshole piece of trash.” It was not my fault that she kept drawing low battle destiny cards and got wrecked 5 turns in a row. But my all means, call the 14-year-old out for playing the game. Then I got my shit pushed in by a Jabba’s Palace based deck that was horrible for me, but a thing of beauty for everyone watching. I never stood a chance. After I was eliminated I went card hunting and bought a bunch of rare cards for WAY too cheap from a guy trying to unload them. On the way home my dad says something along the lines of “You do realize that guy didn’t know what he really had and he probably stole those cards and was just trying to get rid of them. You bought stolen cards, Daniel.” He was probably right. I learned a lot on that gaming floor, but now I spend most of my time roaming the…
…Dealer rooms. I love t-shirt shopping in there. I mean, seriously, you can find a t-shirt for EVERY occasion. Oh, and then there are toys that you wanted when you were a kid but you never got. I got my Soundwave at Dragon Con. For those of you still in college/decorate like a college student you will find thousands of posters. Comic books. Regular books. Paintings. Sculptures. You can honestly spend a whole day wondering around, never buy anything, and still have a great time. My advice: Set aside a set amount of money you want to spend, because if you don’t, you might wind up buying that SDCC exclusive Metroplex.
OK, I guess the one thing I really NEED to talk about are the charities. Dragon Con raises a ton of money for charity. This year they are raising money for the Lymphoma Research Foundation. Cancer sucks, so you should all donate to that. But if you can’t give some money, you can always give away your blood. Seriously. LifeSouth does a big blood drive at Dragon Con. You give blood, save a life, and get a t-shirt (and a Capri Sun if they have any left). They brought in over 6000 units of blood last year. Give blood. Also, I should probably mention that it is a bad idea to drink right after giving blood.
There really is too much to go into detail about anything, much less everything. But, to recap, see Caroll Spinney, give blood, take lots of pictures, make some new friends, buy things you want (not that you need), see the parade, give random cosplayers high 5s (seriously, a shit ton of work goes into some of that, you can see my old costume below) and have fun.