CONvergence blew through Bloomington, Minnesota last weekend, in its annual display of incredible geekery and with a significant cohort of our writers enthusiastically attending the event, we have banded together to create a post-CON debrief highlighting the best, the worst and the ridiculous of CONvergence 2015: Double Plus Good.
This year the cosplay highlights included Chris Pederson’s extremely enormous and extremely emotionally affecting, full-sized Groot.
and Howl’s Moving Castle:
Haddayr nominates the rather famous Pink Dalek as another favorite,
…pointing out that gender swapping characters is becoming a huge trend in cosplay, but that at CONvergence some folks went even further and crossed genres. “I gasped aloud with joy at the cross-play Victorian Superman, Batman & Robin, and a delightfully foppish Hawk Girl.”
Haddayr’s second-favorite group was this crossplay group with Mister Freeze, The Joker, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy—who wore a Scottish Great Kilt, tied very differently than usual. “I needed to make it a SEXY kilt,” Poison Ivy explained modestly.
One fun innovation: costumers carrying around badge ribbons to give to the people who recognize who they’re dressed as. It makes the fun even more interactive, like a high-five as a tangible reward.
Waiting for a restaurant table on Saturday, Naomi saw a woman with Mad Max: Fury Road face makeup (the greasepaint over the eyes) and Hufflepuff robes.
“Are you … Hogwarts Furiosa?” I asked her. “Yes!” she said, delighted. “You got it!” And handed me a badge ribbon that said “Wingardium Furiosa” to add to my collection.
CONvergence for the win.
The fabulous Lyda Morehouse nominates PowerPoint Karaoke for the Best of CON award. Powepoint Karaoke, if you don’t know, is a live improv performance where the contestants have to give a presentation on a topic of their choice, but must include randomly selected (and often extremely silly/inappropriate) slides.
The players are judged by a panel of “experts” who are looking to see if they can get through all the slides in the allotted amount of time and stay on topic. They also gauge the audience’s reaction. The judges add to the performance with their comments such as ‘‘I gave you and extra point for being British; everyone knows British people just sound like they know what they’re talking about.”
This year’s winner was Joseph Scrimshaw, a regular contestant, but this year he had the brilliant idea of doing a presentation on “Fear of Public Speaking,” thus a lot of the awful slides worked in his favor as he stammered through attempts to include them, acting the part of an terrified public speaker. Lyda notes, “I laughed so hard I peed.”
We know, we know – boffing is a ridiculous name/word. If anyone would’ve asked us, we would’ve named it something like Massively Awesome Battletastic Thwapping Of People Using Padded Hitty Things, or MABTOPUPHT for short. But no one asked us, so boffing it is.
The basic rules of boffing, insofar as we’ve been able to sort out without actually asking anyone, include:
- combatants make use of Guild-approved1 padded shields, swords, and pike-like weapons
- a single strike to an arm or leg and you lose use of that arm or leg; e.g. take a hit to the leg and you fight the remainder of the fight from one knee, not unlike the Black Knight
- two strikes to an arm or leg, or a single “run through” of the torso and you’re out
Panels: the Good, the Great-Except-For-That-One-Guy, and the Why-God-Why
Our own Bitter Butch, the dystopic Haddayr Copley-Woods2 found that with all good things comes odd complaints, when rumors about all of the “Angry 70s Feminists” that were ruining panels surfaced. No wonder we found those panels especially informative, interesting, and lively. Haddayr has high hopes that she was one of the A7Fs: “I did grow up as a child in the 70s, and I am very angry!”
The post-apocalyptic Tara Jenson categorized some of these panels using her own personal rating system:
The Good: Urban Fantasy: Blaxploitation As Dystopia. The panel, Brandi Brown, Jonathan Palmer, Derek “Duck” Washington, Lathan Murrell, and Bill Stiteler were all super engaging super-dorks on not only the more narrow topic of blaxploitation films but on the larger topic of race in film, comics, and super-hero land. A+ 10/10 – would see again.
If you don’t want to wait until the next CON, check out the podcast Brandi and Bill talk about Blaxploitation.
The Great-Except-For-That-One-Guy award goes to the Slash Fic panel, whose panelists were delightful and knowledgeable3 except, well, for That One Guy. That guy, who we’ll leave nameless, spent his time on the panel making it abundantly clear he knew less about slash fic than we do – which is about as much as we know about fly-fishing in Winnipeg, which is to say zero.
The Why-God-Why: This panel on copyright and intellectual property law was, far as we could tell, mostly just a room full of lawyers4 and wanna-be-lawyers and not-even-remotely-lawyers haggling and one-upping each other over the carcasses of some nice geeky folks who wanted but didn’t exactly get answers about whether they could knit TARDIS tea cozies to sell on Etsy without being sued by the BBC.
Ready, Steady, Flash!
Finally, I nominate Ready, Steady, Flash! as the best thing at CON 2015. A panel of five published writers are given five minutes and a brief prompt and then they write a story. This could be the equivalent of watching paint dry, but it is instead the most amazing thing ever. Why?
First, it was hosted by Lee Harris, who is so very funny that the audience was roaring with laughter, while awesome writers still managed to figure out a story with a beginning, a middle and the end, based on such excellent prompts as “Uncle Sam’s Day Off” with the necessary inclusion of the term “cocaine.” Secondly – holy crap, five minutes to write a story. Fiction is hard, creating a whole world in your head in five minutes? That is something you should see. Especially with writers like Carrie Patel, C. Robert Cargill, Paul Cornell, Melissa Olson, and Kelly McCullough. All of the stories left the audience wanting more, and we suspect, sent most of the audience looking to make sure these excellent authors are in their library.
Really, these nominations are only the tip of the iceberg of amazing that is CONvergence. Feel free to add your personal favorites in the comments.
CONvergence is already gearing up for 2016, so if you are, or could be, in the Minneapolis-St.Paul area between June 30th – July 3rd, get your tickets now and pay the early bird price.
the local boffing collective in town is something called the Assassin’s Guild. We’re not entirely sure what the sneaky, requires-an-element-of-surprise vocation of being an assassin has in common with the rather noisy business of two individuals beating each other with padded weapons, but hey – what do we know! ↩
In addition to being an awesome columnist, Haddayr writes excellent sci fi that you should read ASAP! ↩
and we’re not just saying that because one of them is our very own monster erotica blogger Lyda Morehouse ↩
most of whom are only IP lawyers in their fan fic dreams ↩