Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A rookie's guide to MisCon 26

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2012 at 10:15 AM

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The thing I most remember about last year's MisCon was when the sci-fi crowd at the drag show — yes, drag show — joined the lip-syncing, high-heeled performer in an impromptu sing-along of P!nk's emotional pop anthem, "F**kin' Perfect." It was surreal and pure and joyous, with queens of fantastical other worlds and queens from the former AmVets sharing the spotlight in unbridled celebration. Never seen anything like it.

Maybe you had to be there.

Oh, and look at this: You can be there for this year's festivities.

MisCon 26 kicks off on Friday. While the majority of attention is getting deservedly heaped on a certain celebrity guest of honor, there's plenty of other stuff to geek out on. And, as this handy guide explains, you don't even need to be a geek to have fun.

Pick your poison
When I printed out the schedule it took up more than 20 pages. There's a ton to do, and there's something for everyone: gaming, costumes, writers workshops, vendors, film screenings, readings, meet-and-greets, parties, and so on. I recommend narrowing your initial focus to what interests you, picking one or two sessions to plan around, and explore from there. If you arrive without at least some sort of game plan it can be overwhelming.

Want a recommendation on what to do? Needless to say, Saturday night's costume contest and drag show are ridiculous fun. This year it starts at 8.

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Play a game
It's hard to explain just how big gaming is during this weekend. More than a dozen rooms, including the entire basement of the casino next door, are dedicated to round-the-clock games. Having never sat down for more than a friendly round of Scrabble or the occasional late-night Risk binge, all of this struck me as more intimidating than a drag queen dressed as Princess Leia. Fear not. While some games are clearly serious affairs (note the closed doors, furrowed brows and cases of Mountain Dew), others are entirely welcome to rookies. I suggest introducing yourself to the solid folks at the Sandbaggers Game Club or seeing if there's an open spot in Justin Farrington's Call of Cthulhu: The Spirit in Amber, which specifically says "beginners are welcome (and encouraged!)."

Don't jump in the pool
As in, from the roof of the hotel. That's the story I heard from one of MisCon's security crew as an example of how wild the private room parties can get. That jumper was reportedly banned from future Cons and never heard from again. (Another suggestion: Don't mess with MisCon security. They're a serious bunch.) The parties are an odd fit to the family friendly event, but help raise money for good organizations, like other regional cons. They also provide some memorable moments. Who knows what'll be involved this year, but chances are it'll include alcoholic drinks like Toxic Waste (a fruity concoction from, if I remember correctly, RadCon, which is located near a former nuclear facility in Washington) and Cthulhu Goo (MisCon's creation, which gets its "goo" courtesy of grape Jell-O).

Network and workshop
Aside from gaming, workshops and panels rule the weekend. The list of literary pros who have come through MisCon includes Larry Niven, Patty Briggs, CJ Cherryh and the late Jim Crumley. This year features George R.R. Martin, the venerable John Dalmas and local favorite Josh Wagner. If you're an aspiring writer or artist with even a passing interest in fantasy or sci-fi, you'd be crazy not to take advantage of the wisdom and access provided here.

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Bring the family
MisCon organizers go out of their way to help everyone feel welcome. A Friday afternoon session called "What the Heck is Going On? My Family Dragged Me Here!" is just one example. Kids activities fill the weekend with coloring, crafts, a witch casting spells (she turns you into an animal; you make a mask of said animal) and the always popular tin-foil hat making workshop. If you need an excuse to attend, the kids make for a good one.

Prepare for anything
I had no idea what to expect last year, but I ended up meeting good people, learning new games, hearing inspiring stories and winning my own Klingon action figure that I still keep on my desk (long story). I'm willing to bet you can't get all that — and see a gigantic werewolf costume complete with stilts built into the suit's hindquarters — anywhere else during Memorial Day weekend.

Register for MisCon at the door. $20 day pass for adults, $40 full weekend, and kids under 7 are free.

Photos by Chad Harder

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