(tympani cymbal crash). Work has been pretty much the insane nonstop fire drill that it was when I left, and so I haven't had much in the way of time to write anything about my experiences at AnthroCon or my trip to Philadelphia last Thursday.
There's been a fair amount of comments and controversy about what some people have had to say about AC, so please keep in mind that these are my opinions being posted in my journal, and you may or may not agree with them. My praises should be taken with a grain of salt, as well as my constructive criticism. Something can be done about some of these things, and some of them not, so these are just my expriences as I had them..
Some observations about the whole trip in general:
- The heat in Philly was oppressive, and the humidity was worse.
Now I know why they call it "AC", because there you need it just to breathe.
- Philadelphia may have been known as "The City of Brotherly Love", but
not in the last century or two.
- A six-pack of Beer is still near impossible to buy in Philly. Fortunately
this time Vespa managed to bring some from a more beer-tolerant area like
Boston (thanks Vespa!)
Things that were cool about my trip to AC 2003:
- Getting to see all the people I hadn't seen in two years, and getting
to meet some people I've always wanted to meet in person. Like many
AC Con reports have said, most of the fun at the con was hanging out with
all the people.
- The masquerade was very well done, I was impressed with how it was put
together. Other than the musical glitch at the end, I thought it was a
good show with some really entertaining acts. And SK-1 once again outdid
himself as the emcee, it's always fun watching him perform, even if I
keep expecting him to put on gold chains and break into a rap session
with the rhythm that he has.
- The "zoo" open area for the artists to hang out was a great idea, and
gave a place for people to hang out and draw, for artists to sit down and
be creative, and it was one of the places where you could always find
whoever you were looking for.
- The "Headless lounge" in the hallway, which I was initially pretty
skeptical of, actually did pretty well. They could have used more water,
and I hear they ran out, but this is not an uncommon thing at furry cons
at hotels where you're going through more water than the hotel staff can
- The dance was put together in a much better fashion this time, I could
actually see something when I went in there in costume, unlike AC 2001
where it felt like I'd walked into a closet and closed the door.
- Compared to most of the cons I've gone to, the dining experience was
generally better than most, but this was also because we avoided Appleby's
(not Applebee's, this is a hotel restaurant knockoff that isn't nearly as
good) and the TGI Friday's next to the hotel was pretty good.
- The Fursuit Parade was great, even if we had to go to the (broiling) outside
for a little while. We got a great group shot, and I got to march with KJ,
who had his new costume that was way cool...
Things that were lame about my trip to AC 2003:
- The dead dog party started off well, and then went downhill fast.
The fursuit policy in general really needs to get figured out, but
booting people fromthe Dead Dog Party on Sunday night just because they're
not immediately in fursuit was pretty asinine. Especially if the
non-fursuited people are the escorts for fursuiters. Especially if you've
brought all these people in so you can show them the masquerade video.
Stationing security in the front door and closing the doors
(making the room hot) and keeping people out is NOT what a dead dog party
is about. I had extra drinks and munchies that I donated to the dead dog
party earlier, and had I known they were going to pull stupid shit like
that, I would have given them to more deserving parties. (At FC there's
usually a metric ton of extra leftover drinks and snacks at the dead dog
party.. there wasn't much at the AC dead dog party, and now I know why).
- While coming down the stairs from the hotel level to the convention level,
an AC staffer stopped me while walking down the stairs and asked to see
my badge. What the hell, the stairway in a public area is now a badged
area? I don't know what the guy's problem was, and I had my badge in my
pocket, but I'd never heard of badging right there while doing down the
stairs (especially since he was going the other way).
- The scary fanboys were out in force, and like many people have commented,
they should have given out soap and shampoo kits with con registration.
I especially appreciated Snap E. Tiger and Kimburu's masquerade act where
they perform, "Take a Bath", it was very a propos.
- I said I wasn't coming back to AC after 2001 until they fixed the elevators,
and geez, did they have me fooled. They even had a picture of Kage pushing
the elevator buttons on the AnthroCon website saying how they were so much
better, and in general, they weren't. They didn't lose the ability to reset
and stop on every floor like in 2001, but they still had 3 out of 4 break,
have the elevator get stuck on floors, have the doors open up on the
elevator side but not the floor side, and got stuck about as often.
In 2001 everyone was trying to pass off the disastrous elevators as an
unusual situation, and the hotel staffer cleaning up our room told us,
"Those elevators, they like that all the time". They should know, they
go up and down in them as much as anyone. How'd you like to deal with
THOSE elevators in your job, every day?
So when 3 out of 4 of the elevators went out (and the 4th one got stuck),
people were taking the stairs all over the hotel, which was a real drag
since we were on the 11th floor. People tried to take the service
elevator, and the hotel security stopped them and made them get off the
service lift, initially. It wasn't until later that the black-beret
wearing AC security people came out in force and started manning the
elevators that they had escorted elevator rides and gave priority to
fursuiters trying to get back up to their rooms that some semi-reasonable
chaos was established, but the lines just to get the elevators stretched
over 50 feet down the hall.
Especially disastrous was during the Fursuit Parade at NOON on Sunday
morning, which was the same time as check-out. So everyone was either
trying to check out with all their luggage, or come down in costume to
march in the parade, all at the same time. Seven full elevators
(and two full freight elevators) went by chock full to the gills, and
after waiting 20 minutes or so to get down to the parade that was starting
any minute now, I took the 11 flights of stairs in costume. Some people
fell down the stairs trying to navigate them like this, and I think it
creates a huge liability to do it this way.
And after all the con-goers put up with days of elevator problems, during
the Con Gripe Q&A Session the staff basically gives the flip answer that
the elevators are a problem between you and the hotel, don't talk to us
about it. What a total abdication of responsibility about the problem..
If the power went out to all the event rooms, and it was dark everywhere,
is that also our problem and not something the con should care about?
It was bad enough to claim that everything was all fixed when it wasn't,
but then to pass the buck like that was an impressive cop-out.
I've been to lots of cons, some with even more people than they had at
AC, and they never had the elevator problems that AC has every year.
Sure, people overloaded the elevators, but they're rated for only half of
what you would see for hotel elevators. The hotel just decided to skimp
on the system when they put it in. This situation will probably
not improve until they end up at a better hotel, unfortunately, I don't
think there's a lot of other things the AC staff can do about it.
- Hand-in-hand with the elevators, AC really needs a better hotel.
I've now stayed twice at the Adam's Mark and I hope I don't make it three.
I'd never stay at a hotel for a trip where I was going on vacation and
pay that much to have a surly staff that either ignores basic requests for
hotel room supplies, or refuses them. Things like the bathroom light
not working at all, no curtain in the hotel room (so you get to see the
sun come up at 5 AM) and the generally apathetic attitude that the hotel
staffers had towards us was pretty off-putting. I would have left a
tip in the room if they hadn't blown every opportunity for me to reward
them. Refusing to bring us towels really shocked the hell out of me, and
then when we finally did get some extra, the cleaning people took them
back the next morning before we got a chance to use them.
The crack in the windowpane was especially a nice touch, I stayed away
from that side of the room.
I'm not knocking the AC staff, I know they worked hard to put together a great con, and the attendance was impressive, with nearly 2000 people. But the things that were lame almost outweighed the things that were cool, and when you drop over $1000 to attend a con, the cool must outweigh the lame for it to be worth it. I did get to see lots of people I hadn't seen in eons, and in general I had fun, but I generally didn't go to the events and just hung out, and it seems like that's what most people did. There were times at AC that I was wishing I'd gone to San Diego Comic-Con instead, since they were on the same weekend and I could only be at one.
The Dead Dog party evictions also left a pretty bad taste in people's mouths for the last event at the con, and those that were planning to go put on a fursuit and come back down just stayed away completely (including me).
Lots of people took off or went home pissed after that one, which they'll come back remembering as soon as they see the Adam's Mark ballroom again.
I did have fun, and have lots of pictures to put online of some pretty amazing costumes (the fursuits get better and better every year). We got to rent a car and cruise Philadelphia in a large white pimpin' SUV, and this time we knew where to find important things like munchies, water, booze, and restaurants, especially since I had the entire Philly metro area downloaded to my GPS. First time I'd ever seen shopping carts chained together to stop people from stealing them though, I've never seen them do that in California.