Carly’s CTCon Highlights

Didn’t get a chance to go to Connecticon this past weekend and want to know what you missed? Or were you there and just want to know what I think? I’ll tell you about my favorite costumes, panels, and shows, close encounters with special guests, activities to do in between events, and more. I even got to ask Sean Astin (actor of Sam Gamgee and voice of Raphael in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles) about feminism in TMNT! Read on if you want to know what he said…

Favorite costumes:

This category was won for me before I even stepped into the con. Standing in the registration line was someone dressed up as the cabbage guy from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Gotta love when someone does an obscure but instantly recognizable character.

Photo by author. Used with permission of subject.
Photo by author. Used with permission of subject.

Runner up – Grandma Fa from Mulan. She even had her little cricket.

Photo by author. Used with permission of subject.
Photo by author. Used with permission of subject.

Panels attended:

Happily Never After: The Animated Movies of Golden Films and Jetlag Productions — This was run by DG’s very own editor-in-chief, Dalin. There was a good turnout and everyone giggled together over video clips of really bad Disney rip-offs from our childhood. I had never seen any of these movies as a kid or known much about animated film production and politics in the ’90s so I learned a lot at this panel while also supporting a friend.

Jessica Jones: One (Hell) of a Feminist Punch — I had to binge-watch the first few episodes of this show before the con because I knew I wanted to check out this panel and wanted to have some basic knowledge of the characters. The panelist seemed pretty new to public speaking but she made some good points. Her three main arguments involved the equal representation of men and women in the show (in terms of number of characters and complexity of personality), the presentation of empowered female sexuality, and the commentary on male privilege. She also touched on the way the show handles abuse, the fact that Jessica Jones is the only standalone female Marvel character with her own show right now (in that Peggy Carter and Supergirl both have male counterparts), and the importance of bringing feminism into conventions and other geek spaces.

Interactions with Special Guests:

In our pre-con post, I listed the two Lord of the Rings Actors, John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) and Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee) as the guests I was most excited for, but I didn’t get my hopes up because I thought there would be crowds around them and long lines to get to their events that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. I was pleasantly surprised then, while I was taking a turn around the dealer’s room, to see them both at their autograph tables with relatively short lines. Although the autographed photos were a bit expensive for a piece of paper that I knew I would bring home, tuck away, and forget about, saying hi was free, so I decided to hop on line.

announce_jrd_220_234I was at the front before I had even thought of anything clever to say, though I was distracted by how charming both John and Sean (at adjacent signing tables) were being to all of their fans. John was doling out compliments while Sean was giving hand-kisses. When it was my turn, I told John Rhys-Davies about writing for our geeky feminist website and he seemed intrigued. We had a quick conversation about female characters in Lord of the Rings versus Shannara and he took my business card saying maybe he’d give us a call (hard to do since we don’t have a phone number listed, but I appreciate the sentiment).

announce_sean_220_234I had even more time to spend with Sean Astin (although the staff tried to hurry me along since I was just saying hi rather than buying anything) because I was the last in line. He complimented my costume and asked what it was. I was dressed as Fire Nation Katara from Avatar. He said he was familiar with the show because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles uses the same studio. When I told him about The Daily Geekette, he leaned back and said, “So ask me a question.” Put on the spot, I returned to our last topic and asked if he thought TMNT was a good feminist show. His answer was yes because “the boys do anything and go anywhere that April tells them to,” referring a friend/ally of the turtles who is treated with respect by her male companions. I wish we could have delved deeper into the topic (for although April seems to exert a certain amount of authority, she is also often treated as a love interest or damsel in distress), but that would have required me to be more familiar with the show, both of us not to have been so caught off guard by the opportunity, and of course, more time than one gets in an autograph line.

Shows attended:

Cosplay Burlesque — I saw them on both Friday and Saturday night. The Friday show was a more small-scale, public-friendly show in a bar setting across the street from the convention. The Saturday show was at a nearby movie theater, which meant only the front row could see any floor work but the crowd there was exclusively con-goers so there were a lot more inside jokes (all hail the hypno-toad!) and generally a more comfortable atmosphere. There were some issues with the shows not being listed in the schedule and technical difficulties at the venue, but the performers made the best of it.

Click on the picture for a link to their facebook page.
Click on the picture for a link to their facebook page.

Psyche Corporation — Although I am very familiar with her from Jeff Mach events, this was Psyche’s first performance at ConnectiCon. She drew a much smaller crowd than usual, mostly due to her venue’s distance from the actual convention center (more on this in my post about the way the con was run this year) combined with her status as an unfamiliar performer. I kind of enjoyed the intimate setting though, as Psyche took time to chat with me and introduce me to her friends as her show was delayed for an hour due to technical difficulties. As always, her singing was eerie and lovely, her dancing was entrancing, and her music had me swaying on the dance floor.

The Geeky Bellydance Show — Earlier in the weekend, the geeky bellydance troupe Antipode ran a workshop in which they taught a routine for participants to join them on stage at two other points during the con: the Masquerade on Saturday and the Geeky Bellydance Show on Sunday. The Masquerade had a bit of a timing debacle, so I missed my chance to join them there, but I did get to hit the stage with them on Sunday in a cute and simple routine to System of a Down’s version of “Link He Came to Town.” I also enjoyed watching the other dancers in the show, bellydance teachers and dancers from all over the northeast, each in beautiful handmade costumes dancing to delightfully geeky tunes. My favorites were Shimmy Ninjas‘ Repo! and Gotham villains routines.

Shimmy Ninja in their Gotham Get-up. Talented dancers with great taste in music and fandoms.
Shimmy Ninja in their Gotham Get-up. Talented dancers with great taste in music and fandoms.

Downtime Activities:

I did it. I sold my soul to Pokemon Go. After being bombarded with people playing it and talking about it all day on Friday, I downloaded it Saturday morning and proceeded to catch 52 pokemon in one day and annoy my friends with my inability to talk about anything else. The area around the convention center was a major pokemon hotspot, with pokecenters and lures galore, and even two gyms. There was kind of a communal atmosphere as you looked up from catching your billionth Zubat and seeing the person next to you doing the same thing. You’d say a few words or just exchange a knowing smile and move on to your next catch. It was a good way to be social and find stuff to do in the down time between panels and shows.

You'd never guess this was taken in the con parking garage. Click on the pic to see more of her photos on instagram.
You’d never guess this was taken in the con parking garage. Click on the pic to see more of Lexy’s photos on instagram.

My other major downtime activity was photoshoots. When your friend group consists of a bunch of film, art, and lighting majors, the simple act of documenting your cute cosplays can get a little intense. (Hence why I had to download pokemon go for when I got bored during hour 2 of Korrasami poses). It was kind of cool to have a professional photography set-up going on at random grassy hills or rusty statues around the conventions. You can check out their work here.

Swag:

I’m proud of myself for keeping my purchases down to three things this year. I’m at the point in my life where I’m trying to de-clutter, not acquire more stuff.

In the dealers room, I bought a card game my friends have raved about called We Didn’t Playtest This at All…

wedidntplaytestthis

…and a cute cat-shaped ring.

catring

I also bought Psyche Corporations latest album, Romance of the Counter-Elite, while I was sitting around waiting for her show to start.

PsycheCorpCounterElite

What did you think of CTCon? What were some of your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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