Woke up a bit later today, definitely feeling more sluggish. We grabbed breakfast at the hotel, packed up our backpacks full of goodies and electronics and headed out. We decided that we weren't crazy about the idea of sitting in line for 2 hours to see Shatner, so we decided to skip it and check out the art, comics, and pop culture gallery instead. Lots off great artwork, prints, sculpture, etc for sale and silent auction. Fun to look at, bit too pricey to buy (for us).
After the gallery, we milled around waiting to line up for George Takei. The official rule at DC states lines for an upcoming panel doesn't start for 1 hr before the panel but we've found that is not the case for large panels. Due to so many people milling around waiting for the big panel, to keep some semblance of control, as soon as the previous panel line is seated and empty, the next panel is lined up (usually 1.5 hrs before the start). We knew Takei was popular so we started milling 2 hrs before the start, then got up and moved to the line area so we could be part of the initial bum-rush to the front of the line. We were within the first top 20 of the line, which got us pretty good seats. Takei is a very passionate speaker and talked very quickly about Star Trek but his speaking focused on Japanese internment during WW2 and LGBT rights. Very charismatic, it is worth listening to him speak. It started pouring rain after the panel. We were prepared with umbrella so we got to walk outside to avoid all the people traffic through the habitrails connecting the hotels.
After Takei, we wanted to see "Creationism and Intelligent Design" another skeptics panel about who keeps pushing these ideas and how to debunk them. We discovered an old friend was also at DC and she was leaving that evening so we met up with her instead and chatted for a while. The panel was so popular that there wasn't even standing room available so we strolled down to the Walk of Fame where stars give out autographs and photos. It was very novel to see actors in real life. We didn't get autographs or pictures but we did a fair bit of gawking.
After saying bye to Kelly, we headed to the Weston for the Jim Butcher panel. We didn't care if we got to the front, so we got there only about 45 minutes in advance and the line was already pretty long. We waited in line and ate our apples and cheese (Tip: DC doesn't always give you a chance to eat full meals, bring water, and portable snacks). As I was coming back from the restroom, I ran into another person I knew from the AOL NOC. We chatted for a while and caught up. This is Donnie's sixth DC and she does cosplay. It was nice see another familiar face and catch up. We got into the panel and ended up near the back but that was ok. Jim Butcher seems like the typical geek, not like someone famous. He likes to game, larp, and doesn't seem to take his writing too seriously. He just really seems to enjoy it, and appears to be very down to earth.
Stopped at the food court after Butcher. Of course it was crowded, so decided on mediterranean food (change from grease and it has its own sitting area). We sat next to a group who were having a great time people watching. As cosplayers would pass by, the group would catch their attention and wave scores at them. The scores were always the same, they were doing this for everyone's entertainment, not to hurt anyone's feelings. The cosplayers loved it and seemed to be flattered (including poses, faces, and cheers), which then entertained the group (and us). That group really made our dinner super-enjoyable.
Gives an idea of how crowded it can get during DC.
After dinner, we wanted to see Star Trek costume world record but we weren't sure if non-costumes were allowed in so we people watched at the Marriott for a few hours instead which ended up highly entertaining. There are some great costumes, but there are also some really weird things out there. Lots of steampunk, lots of Lady Capt Americas, but also a lot of My Little Pony! And we learned a new term this weekend, Brony, where a male enjoys My Little Pony. Did lots of watching, tried to guess costumes, and just enjoyed ourselves.
One big difference we've noticed at DC are the attitudes of people vs normal crowded functions. People here are nice, considerate, and helpful. It's easy to strike up a conversation with anyone near you but there's no pressure if you just want to be isolated. Mike and I both felt more comfortable in this crowd of 50k plus than we expected. Usually in crowded situations one (or both) of us feels the urgent need to find a quiet spot after a short time. Here, we really didn't feel the need to escape even with the huge crowds around us.
Our last panel of the day was 10 Rules Dealing with Police Encounters, part of the electronic frontier forum track. Really good information, and a small panel. While it was packed, the q&a felt more informal and comfortable.
We decided that we would really enjoy DC next year and probably concentrate on more smaller panels. Audiences are smaller, and the material is really good. We've done the big stars this year so we're ready for the meaty material next year (with maybe a couple big stars thrown in there).