Thursday, August 28, 2014

On the road again: DragonCon, day 1

As best I understand it, DragonCon didn't exactly officially start today--that happens tomorrow--but nonetheless registration was open, the con held some panels, and thousands of fans flooded into the area hotels.  A con this big is an amazing thing to watch happen, a mob event of huge proportions.

Due to work, I spent almost all of the daylight hours working in my room, but I did get out for lunch and to register. 

Lunch was at a very good Mediterranean place, Aviva by Kameel, that sits in a nearby food court.  The lamb shawarma was by far the best I've ever tasted.  Kameel, the proprietor, was working the line and is one of the most cheerful people I've ever encountered.  His enthusiasm and happiness were contagious, so much so that when he greeted people with "My friend" or "I love you," he felt genuine.  If you're in this area and seeking lunch, check out Aviva--and hope Kameel is working.

I'm lucky enough to be a guest at the con, so I got to register in the separate area for guests.  The process was quick, painless, and even pleasant, thanks to the very nice man who took care of my registration.  (His badge was backward, so I didn't get his name.) 

He pointed me to a back corner of the room to get my pocket program and program book.  A man was sitting on a shelf there; the things I needed were behind him.  He was deep in conversation with a friend, but as I drew closer, he stopped talking, grabbed the two items I wanted, handed them to me, and said, "Here you go, friend."

The man was Lou Ferrigno. 

I said, "Working con registration incognito?"

He chuckled, smiled, winked, and returned to his conversation.

He could not have been nicer. 

After some more work, I headed out to the Baen Books launch party, an event in honor of new books from David Weber and Timothy Zahn, who collaborated on an Honorverse novel, and John Ringo, whose third book in his plague (aka zombie) series was launching.  At the party, Baen Slushmaster General Gray Rinehart sang a few songs.

Click an image to see a larger version.

I enjoyed his performance.

Next up was dinner at Bacchanalia, an Atlanta restaurant that has drawn a lot of Beard attention.  The fixed-price, five-course meal was top-drawer; every single bite was delicious. 

In the same shopping center, I was surprised to see this lovely sight.

I had no idea that Jeni's operated shops outside Columbus, but I was psyched to see this one.  You can bet I'll hit it sometime before I leave town.

Back at the con, before returning to my room and more work, I went walking and people-watching--always a great activity at DragonCon.  Here's a view into one side of the main Marriott lobby.

The quality of many of the costumes is incredibly high. 

Tomorrow, I have a lot of work to do, but at 5:30 p.m. I will be performing my new comedy show, Mr. Poor Choices II:  I Don't Understand.  I am terrified that the audience will be tiny, two or three friends, but I've done what promotion I can.  I will hope for the best, and then give whatever audience shows up an hour of laughter. 

Check back tomorrow to read how it went.

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