Wednesday, September 19, 2007

DragonCon 2007

Danger Woman takes a call.

This posting is mostly a few photos that the Teleospouse and I took at DragonCon -- with a few annoying and distracting comments thrown in. If you would rather see the photos without the commentary (quite understandable) you can view them in my Flickr photoset for this month. These photos are mostly work safe with the possibility of the last one in this posting. If you are in a buttoned-down work environment you might want to stop scrolling with the thumb of the scroll bar about one inch from the bottom.

I often have a crisis of confidence while standing in the long lines to register at DragonCon. Many fans of science fiction (comics, etc.) tend to have some sort of social deficits -- they are often pathologically nerdy, or fat, or neurotic -- there's noting wrong with that, mind you, we all have something -- but when they get together in large groups some of them can cop an attitude -- that they don't fit in with the real world because they are too cool for the "mundanes" to understand -- and that attitude is annoying at best and often a bit pathetic. We are only talking about a small, small percentage of fans but when you get me in a room with about a thousand fans waiting in line there will be enough troubling individuals to creep me out a bit. When I am about one hour from the front of the line I start to wonder why I am there. But I get over it after I make my way through the line and pick up my badge. Then I am fine and I head off to look for my friends.

Here are some of my friends now.


My friend Bill and his readers.
(The twin bald guys in the back are actually one person who was tragically duplicated in a panorama splicing accident involving my wife's camera, an accident which also rendered part of one of his heads transparent.)

My friend Bill is a DragonCon regular. He directs performances of the Atlanta Radio Theater and the Mighty Rassilon Art Players sometimes putting on more than one performance with each group during the course of the convention. This year, in addition to directing performances of both groups he was invited participate in several writer's panels. The photo above is his "reading" of his short story, The Cuban Sandwich, which, rather than just reading the story himself like a normal person would have done, he chose to invite half of A.R.T.C. to read the various characters.

I didn't take any photos of the fans standing in line but other people did -- Here's one for instance. What I did take photos of was the DragonCon parade. On Saturday morning during DragonCon they close Peachtree Street for two hours and DragonCon holds a parade.

The Parade Starts Here.

The Piper novelist and professional artist, Janny Wurtz.

Erik Estrada, star of Sealab 2021 (and some other show back in the day... FLAKES, or something...)

Nichelle Nichols, star of Lady Magdalene's (and something else... on TV, I think)


A Transformer, I think, with entourage.

The vignetting in the Transformers shot is caused by my teleconverter which I removed from the camera shortly after this photo was taken. It adds to my reach at the long end but takes it away for wide angle shots. If you forget you have it on and zoom all the way out it looks like you are shooting through a black pipe. It works great for wildlife shots but, as it turns out, is the last thing you want to shoot a parade from the sidewalk.


Dragon Riders (from Anne McCaffrey's series).

Dr Who and Companions

K-9 from Dr. Who

Hawk Man

HawkMan got by me while I was waiting for my camera to clear its buffer. The Teleospouse snapped this shot which is slightly blurred by the motion of the subject and the slow shutter of her Kodak V705.

Lord of the Rings characters?

Not sure who the tree guy is here. I'd call him an Ent from the Lord of the Rings but he was in with the Harry Potter crew.

Captain Jack and the Royal Governor from Pirates of the Caribbean

There appeared to be many fewer Star Trek costumes this year, both in the parade and at the Con, but Star Wars is still well represented.

Storm Troopers...

...lots of them...

...and the occasional Imperial Guard.

Haunted Hot Sauce

Here's the teleconverter.

A spectator enjoying the parade.

These guys claimed to be the 300 but there were only about a dozen by my count.

The costumes were by no means limited to the parade. About one third of the 40,000 attendees was wearing some sort of costume at some point during the convention. Here are a few "hall costumes" where the photos came out.

These guys were pros. They make costumes for several Florida theme parks. Here they are as members of Davy Jones' crew.

Not sure who this one was supposed to be but the costume was lovely and she looked good in it.

Frodo and Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.


Jack Sparrow and some random wench.

Not sure who this one was either but she put on a good show for passing photographers.

They have worked out a clever way of keeping anyone from getting decent photographs of the DragonCon masquerade. They ask you not to take photos during the actual event but to remain afterward for some staged photo opportunities with all the costumes. And sure enough, after the masquerade they set up some risers as a runway in an insanely dark corner of the hotel ballroom with the chairs for the photographers positioned just out of anyone's flash range. (The chairs are for standing on, as far as I can tell. At least I always wind up standing on a chair in the back and wishing I had bought that add-on flash unit for my camera. I don't have many photos of the masquerade and the ones I did get were dark. I have adjusted the brightness, contrast and color saturation so you can get some idea what the costumes looked like.

The big winner this year was the Wallace and Grommit costume.

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On the runway

In the lobby after the masquerade.

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getting out of their hot costumes after four hours.

The guy who made this Jack Skellington puppet wore a black hood during the masquerade but dispensed with it for the photo shoot which was probably sensible since with out the black background it was pointless.

Jack Skellington

These guys were a hit

Duct tape is versatile stuff. It comes in lots of colors and is easy to work with. It is used extensively in making costumes for DragonCon.

These two ladies made these masquerade costumes entirely out of Duct tape...

...while this young lady's costume in the parade contained only enough Duct tape to keep her in compliance with the local laws.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Teleoscope scoops Freakonomics Authors and New York Times

Today's New York Times Magazine has an article entitled The Jane Fonda Effect which is worth reading, and not just because it follows the same outline as The Teleoscope's February 7th posting, China Syndrome vs Global Warming.

Both pieces discuss the perfect storm of bad publicity for the US nuclear power industry caused by the near-simultaneous release of the Movie The China Syndrome and the accident at The Three Mile Island nuclear plant. Both pieces go on to point out that if yesterday's environmental activists (the anti-nuclear crowd) had been less successful then todays environmental activists (the global warming true believers) would have less to worry about since nuclear power generation does not release carbon into the atmosphere.

The Times' rewrite of my posting does differ in the closing. They spend a couple of paragraphs talking about the recent resurgence of the Nuclear industry while the Teleoscope does a bit of math, estimating the impact of anti-nuclear Jane and her movie at twenty trillion pounds of extra atmospheric CO2 since the movie was released.