Chaos' AN2001 Con Diary

Thursday, May 24.

           Through a rather unexpected but incredibly fortunate change ofwork schedules, I got to work Wednesday instead of Thursday night. This subsequently meant that I could take my time hitting Toronto in the afternoon as opposed to quickly grabbing the 10pm bus from Kitchener to Toronto after I finished work.
           So with an extra bag than usual and a song in my heart ("Tomato wa dame! Watashi no mono! Tako wa ageru! Mitame ga kirai!") I grabbed a mid-afternoon bus to Toronto and then headed for Mayhem's place. He'd had the entire week off from work (and has this current week off too so he can recover from the Con), so he was waiting for me when I arrived around 6:30pm.
           I cooked a quick & easy dinner, we watched the first episode of the 'Arc the Lad' DVD, and then I tried to clean Mayhem's printer since it was making unsightly little black treadmarks all over whatever it printed. Turns out one of his B&W cartridges had leaked and the ink had spread all across the roller and such. 45 minutes, four really black fingers and a hell of a lot of used cotton balls later...the printer was still showing streaks and smudges.
           Bastard printer. --;;
           Shortly thereafter, Havoc arrived to crash overnight with us. The plan was the three of us would go up to one of the subway stations near the end of the line, and be driven to the Airport Marriott courtesy of Jen's father. So while Mayhem did those last-minute nuisance things like do his laundry for the Con and actually pack (he hadn't even really started doing any of this until...oh, 10pm that night), Havoc & I just vegetated and did the usual conspiracy thing.
           The two of us also did some wandering around the local Dominion grocery store--Havoc to get food (for Havoc everything is like Chinese food; no matter what he eats or how much of it he eats, an hour later he's hungry again) and me to get more cash.
           Havoc & I crashed around 1am.


Friday, May 25.

           Since the plan of meeting Jen's father required us to be at the predestined meeting place around 11am (and that the trip there would take us an hour at least), we got up at 8:30. I felt oddly groggy, having gotten enough sleep to remain coherent but not enough to make me feel perky. I swear these days the only thing that can actually get me feeling like I'm awake is a shower these days. Hot or cold, I don't care. Just stick me under running water--so long as it didn't come from Jusenkyo's Cursed Spring of Drowned Kuroneko! (Nyaaaaaaa.)
           So we all roused ourselves, took one look at all the luggage we had (I had the smallest amount with 2 bags and my laptop) and realized there was no way in hell we'd be able to lug all this through the subway. Mayhem alone had about 6 handfuls with all the cash boxes and forms for the Con. So we split a cab.
           The day was already showing signs of being downright bitchy, though mainly because of the weather. Where all the predicted rain for the past 4 days had resulted in nothing but cool yet refreshingly beautiful sunshine, it seemed like the storm was now determined to rain on our fansubbed parade.
           Havoc & I walked out in the drizzle to fetch our cab, and miraculously everything fit into the trunk. The drizzle cleared up about halfway through the drive, and then we got plunked at our designated meeting place.
           From there Havoc & I went into the nearby office building for a breakfast run, bringing something back (eventually) to Mayhem. Now bear in mind that we had to meet for 11am. From what I hear, Jen's dad is rather eccentric/temperamental, and apparently can show up half an hour early & get annoyed for you not having been early too. Well in order to outdo him we were at the designated rendezvous for 10am.
           We killed most of the time in the foodcourt, primarily because Havoc had ordered fish & chips (he was feeling like a grizzly, so insisted on something in the fish category) and forgot to ask the meal 'to go'. So he had to eat them in the foodcourt. Otherwise security would have beaten us silly with those long antennas on their walkie talkies for having removed a tray from the foodcourt. Poor Mayhem thought we had been swallowed up by the earth given how long we took.
           But he got his breakfast in the end so it was all good.
           Strangely I only ate a salad.
           I didn't eat much at this Con. Not as much to save money (well, that did play a factor in choosing where & when I ate), but because I just wasn't hungry. Must have been all the junkfood I grazed upon regularly during each day.
           So Jen arrived, we loaded everything up and then arrived at the Marriot around noon. We had taken about 6 steps into the hotel lobby (with a bellboy pushing our combined luggage on a cart) when Havoc was glomped by Ysabet/Hysteria.
           I now understand what a Hysteria glomp is, and am subsequently terrified of it. She managed to throw him momentarily off-balance with her momentum. And given Havoc's size that's a hard thing to succeed at doing.
           The fun began almost immediately with word that our rooms were not yet ready for us. Havoc managed to be as subvertly menacing as possible and got his & Jen's room cleaned and ready in under a half hour. Mayhem & I waited for about an hour and a half.
           No, correct that. I waited for about an hour and a half.
Mayhem was already being dragged about & dashing off to get things prepped for the registration, which started at around 3pm. So after having a few squabbles with hotel and Con staff about where we should throw our mass of bags while we were waiting, we hid everything in a corner and hung out in the lobby.
           I was formally introduced to Hysteria. Joan showed up about 20 minutes later. All we were really waiting for was Gaffney and then everyone planned on eating lunch. Sean was supposed to arrive at 1pm...but no one knew if that was when he planned on arriving at the hotel or if that was when his flight was supposed to land in Toronto.
           Inevitably, while we just loitered in the lobby (ignoring the annoyed looks from the hotel staffers behind the desk), more and more obvious otaku started filtering in. Couples, individual and groups began surging through to start claiming their rooms. No one was actually Cosplaying as of yet, but most were wearing some shirt with a telltale Anime design on it.
           Once Havoc's room was ready, we all took our stuff and set it there for safe keeping. Then it was back down to the lobby. Havoc & I got our handy dandy volunteer badges (whose powers we flaunted & abused numerous times >), and Sean arrived around 2:30. Pandemonium & her boyfriend had arrived about 10 minutes beforehand. The whole gang then went out to find someplace to sit down and eat lunch. I wasn't hungry (how can such a small salad be so filling?!), so I just hung back and explored the hotel.
           The cool thing about the Marriot's design is that the back of the lobby has a large glass picture window which looks down into the pool on the floor below. The pool area is fairly large, with a good-sized octagonal swimming pool and a Jacuzzi that easily fits 15. The back end of the pool area was nothing but glass panels which looked out into a private garden belonging to the hotel. It really kicked ass in terms of aesthetics.
           But I'm digressing.
           Mayhem got the room while the others were away, but since I was around I got my key. Well, it was a "swipe the stripe" plastic credit card, but it still got me inside. I hung around the lobby & watched the line-up of otaku waiting to register get larger until the others returned. Everyone meandered to Havoc's room, where I got mine & Mayhem's things down to our room. Now while Havoc didn't like how he'd asked for 2 beds (Vampy & her boyfriend would be crashing Saturday night with them) all he'd gotten was 1 bed and an armchair with a footstool.
           Mayhem & I each got a bed of our own.
           Wai! Beats the floor any day! ^^v
           Only downside was that, being on the 2nd floor, we had an excellent view of the lobby's extended roof and satellite dish. Havoc being on the 4th floor had a great view of the neighbourhood sans satellite dish. But happily, Pan-chan was right next to our room. Wai!
           What else to mention about our room?
           Ano...not much, really. Generic luxury hotel suite. Two queen-sized beds, a large TV (which the Con had arranged to have one channel specifically broadcast only Anime or Japanese rubber monster/samurai movies) and a good bathroom. I set about arranging my stuff while Mayhem continued to move like anyone fleeing a Twisted Tales of Tokyo dub.
           Around 3pm, the dealers started to set up in their designated area. Havoc & I used our exclusive volunteer passes to breeze by security (under guise of inspecting something or other) and checked out the merchandise before everyone else. There were a lot of pretty cool things that could easily suck an otaku's wallet dry.
           To go off tangent for a moment, that's one thing I found surprising about AN01. I had no drive to buy buy buy at all. I guess I'm lucky being the otaku that I am: I've had steady streams of suppliers.
           You there, the otaku with only two fansubs and a poster!
           Stop vengefully pointing that catapult at me!
           The only things I was really looking for were some pencil boards--which I found Saturday: a Love Hina with Shinobu & Naru posing in just their underwear, and a great Orphen manga shot.
           So then, we all waited leisurely for the line of registering otaku to vanish and then took our turns. I don't know if Havoc actually registered at all; he might have used his Volunteer badge and familiarity with most of the Con staff to breeze by anyone who might have otherwise asked.
           There was no real pressure to run around at this point in time, since nothing was actually scheduled to begin until 5pm. And like all Cons, since when did anything actually start on time?
           Oh, and the theme from the afternoon was something Jon/Ragnarock discovered when we devoured my pack of gummi Cokes. Namely great Engrish, taken from the label of a packet from the bag: "Refleshing flavour."
           Hannibal Lector's candy of choice!
           I will add here that the schedule for AN01's activities and viewings were great--for me at least. Virtually all the Anime they were showing I had already seen. No loss for me to miss any of it. On the other hand, fate proved to be a capricious bitch with a sadistically ironic sense of humour. The few Anime titles I wanted to see I didn't because of time conflicts. So I missed Niea Under 7, Ebi-chu, Angelique and a surprise showing of Blood: The Last Vampire movie (second time I've missed the chance --;;)
           Anyhoo, back to the Con.
           The dealer's room opened at 5pm. By 4:30pm a line of eager fans had amassed. Again, Havoc & I used our pull to get Pan-chan into the room before everyone else (she wanted to see the stuff, but had some other people of the gaming staff to meet). We set up the AN merchandise & charity tables, then were off.
           In the midst of all this the throngs of otaku were seriously swelling. And to milk it for all he was worth, Havoc had printed up about 300 Fanboys! flyers advertising the panel we were doing on Saturday. One pile was left at the registration table for those signing in to pick up.
           The others Havoc & I handed out when it came our turn to hang at the AN/charity tables. Hey, we didn't get our Volunteer badges just for our good looks and charming personalities. ^-^
           Now I wound up missing the opening ceremonies when Havoc, Jen, Pan-chan, her boyfriend & I all went to a nearby Williams Coffee Pub for dinner. The weather also got Medieval on us and it poured down rain for our walk back from Williams to the hotel. A 2 minute walk rendered almost all of us totally drenched. Havoc & I less because we actually RAN back to shelter.
           As a result, I wasn't in the Iron Author contest since the participants were chosen during my absence. While I was disappointed, I wasn't overly distraught. Besides they had 2 powerhouse authors competing anyways: Tim Nolan and Sean Gaffney.
           From what I gather, the "secret ingredient" was a theme of domination. Sean won with a Patlabor fic 6 pages long (nearly twice as long as any of the other competing fics). The second I hear the theme, my brain was doing some very evil Bakuretsu Hunter "JO'O-SAMA!!!" plot ideas.
           From 7-8pm, Havoc and I watched the AN/charity tables. Actually it was just the AN table since the charity table had a glitch in set-up and wasn't running until Saturday morning. When we weren't plugging our panel--or the kawaii tea party-chan Pandemonium had planned for 2:30pm on Saturday (which was a roaring success :)--we were apologizing to fans who wanted AN01 Tshirts.
           Apparently this years' shirts were late. They arrived Saturday morning and the batch was so small that they were all sold almost instantly. A lot of otaku went home without an AN01 shirt. But we conned them into buying lots of other AN01 and AN00 stuff. Hey, it was all going to the next year's Con, so it was good.
           At 8pm I checked out the Red & White show. Are you familiar with it? Red & White is a popular variety entertainment show in Japan. AN had its own. In my view, it was lacking but this was their first time and they had only an hour.
           First off they started with a young girl in grade 8 who's been kicking major ass at the Kiwanis music festivals--and she's been competing against adults, not peers. This kid seriously has singing talent. Unfortunately 3 of the 4 songs she sang were North American. But I forgive her, namely because she sang Voices from Macross Plus. It was so frighteningly beautiful to listen to that I was practically a melted puddle on the floor when she was done.
           After her came...something I can't recall.
           Then came the Naga/Jinnai cackling contest. Quite frankly, I was dismayed that of the 12 people competing no one could pull off a good laugh of either. Sarcasm (who was Cosplaying in just a tangle of red ribbons as Lipumura from MAPS--a costume which had her denied access to eating in the hotel restaurant) tried, and would have won...but alas, she was still recovering from a severe flu. Everything she hit a high note, her voice cracked and she nearly choked. I used to do a great Jinnai laugh, but it's been so long I'm afraid I've forgotten how to do it. Next Red & White for sure, though!
           I shall cause the audience to scream and be reduced to twitching masses on the floor!
           The closing bit came with the Sailor Jamboree. If you don't know them (Hey, I didn't at first), the Jamboree team is a group of SM cosplayers who travel the Cons in North America and do small
performances akin to the SM musicals that I think are still going on in Japan.
           Jen (the only other person to attend with me, aside from Sarcasm & her hubby) lost it when, in the Jamboree's final closing rock number, I raised my hand & started head-banging to the beat. But it was so there, how could I have resisted?
           Red & White ended, so I took my first actual browsing through the merchandise room for a few minutes. In total I think I cruised the dealer's area about 4 times only during the entire Con. As I said already, there wasn't much there I was gunning for in the first place. However, I did snatch up a cool Sailor Saturn mousepad for $15. While I don't have a computer let alone a mouse to go with it, said pad shall remain on my desktop as a visual source of inspiration.
           *sigh!* Life is good. ^-^
           Once I left from there I headed over to the Fanfiction Coffee House. This was where I learned that the Iron Author contest had already taken place (whereas I'd thought it was only just starting). So my reason for attending really was gone. I stayed long enough to hear the awards given out.
           I disappeared and checked out the Anime music videos instead. Thank Kami-sama I did too. The entire main room was packed (and this was widened to house a good 200 people sitting), so I stood at the back for 45 minutes. But had one of the best vantage points for seeing the videos.
           There was nothing really impressive at first.
           Then came the champions. Two seriously kick-ass hyper-genki videos were shown with a lot of dancing magical girls and general silliness. Then came what was called "The video most likely to be seen next in the Art Gallery of Ontario." It was an End of EVA video done so damn well, I was frightened. Primarily because the slick way it was presented led me to believe that the person who made it had actually *figured out* what the hell happened in End of EVA!
           The Grand Prize Winner was shown last. And it was unanimous among everyone there that this video deserved the award, no questions why. It was done to Van Halen's "Right Now" and spoofed the Van Halen video too. All these "right now" phrases were being displayed with a corresponding Anime scene.
           Like "Right now, Madoka is playing the piano" or "Right now, Ryoga is on his 23rd tour of the world." One of the best ones came with an ingenious clip from a Tex Avery cartoon where the wolf in a tuxedo is watching something that causes his eyes to bug out, then pop out from his sockets as this giant grin appears on his face. The caption then reads: "Right now, someone is watching La Blue Girl for the first time."
           Brilliant! This was a video I would have killed for in order to have come up with it first. And the cutest scene was a home video of a little kid dancing happily to an Anime that was playing on the TV set: "Right now, another fan is born." That one had the audience cheering wildly.
           By this time it was midnight, and the comedy/parody videos I'd been hoping to see weren't going to be shown. Dejected, I had to fall back on Plan B: the hentai showing rooms. There were both generic hentai and Yaoi-exclusive rooms. Sarcasm was hosting the latter, natch. I popped in on the Baby Blue video room (a Toronto pun; a while back one of the TV stations aired what they called Baby Blue movies late late Friday night. In short, soft porn movies), but nothing was exactly captivating me.
           As it so happened, we got to see the girl's breasts, the guy & the girl admit they wanted each other...and then we saw the post-coitus cigarette being lit. There was a loud outcry from everyone in the room at being denied fanservice. I left right after that, mainly because the video bored me and the crowd frightened me.
           I vaguely recall stopping by Havoc's room--which had the poster Planet Hentai now tacked onto to the door--and getting a few shots of Sake in. Then I retired for the evening. Mayhem was already snoring away loudly in his bed, so I just flopped out on my bed and slept.


Saturday, May 26

           The alarm went off at 8:30am.
           Apparently I turned it off.
           I don't recall this...or the "fuck you" attitude I showed the alarm by rolling over and going back to sleep. But I woke up somewhat refreshed about an hour later. Mayhem hadn't really gotten out of his bed either and that's how I learned about the fact that my alarm went off even though I don't recall launching it across the room. Since this is me, first thing I did was grab a hot shower so I could actually feel myself start to snap awake. Happily this worked.
           Nothing was slated to start for Con activities until 10am anyways. Even then there was nothing that interested me. I'd seen everything that was being shown, and the panels didn't catch my attention by title alone. So I trotted off to Williams and grabbed myself the breakfast of champions: two giant, chocolate chocolate muffins and a Coke. If that doesn't get you awake and hyper in under 5 minutes, I swear nothing will.
           Worked for me! ^^v
           At around 9:50am, Ysabet, Sean, Pan-chan, Havoc & I met to do a practice run of the Fanboys! fic we were going to read later in the afternoon. To elaborate: a week before the Con, Havoc & I conjured up the idea of having a new fanfic being read outloud during AN01. 3-4 days later Jo'o-sama's Apartment (documenting Chaos, Havoc, Setsuna & Hotaru battling the chibi-Havocs in Setsuna's beach house) was written.
           It was a bitch trying to get it all done before I left on Thursday. Not only did I write it first in its narrative fic version, but then I had to quickly create a script version. There were a lot of errors, but my response was "okay, next time YOU write a 35 page fic three days before the Con and see how hot your copy looks."
           No one had a retort to that.
           Pan-chan's boyfriend wound up doing the voices of the SD Pesti-chans, and made for a wonderful job of it too. Vampy was due to do Hotaru's voice, but she didn't show up at the Con until around 2:30...just in time for the kawaii tea party. But the practice reading was relaxed and enjoyable. This mid-morning lull was a good thing, given how everything else was a non-stop run around for the remainder of the day.
           At 11am came...the Fanboys! panel.
           All in all, it was a fun panel. We had about 15-20 people in total hanging around for it, so that was good. Sarcasm was late for the panel, but Havoc, Carnage & I were all there on time. Havoc & I got into a fight over who got to sit in the big comfy armchair (as opposed to sitting in the plain stacking chairs). He won out, so I defaulted to the big comfy footstool instead.
           There were a lot of bad puns, silly jokes, and flying cows & octopi. I got whapped in the head about 4 times, and always seemed to be toppling off the footstool doing my best dead-Hyatt imitation.
           The conversations & questions ranged from the webpage to why the Fanboys! worked as a self-insertion series to the character dynamics. One of the unexpected comedic moments came when one young lady (obviously a fan) said she could figure out which of us on the panel were Havoc & Carnage...but who's the guy with the plush cow on the footstool? I suavely answered by lobbing the plushie cow at her. She responded by lobbing it back and missing my head by an inch.
           After the F! panel ended I stayed back for the SM fanfiction panel, which was in the same room. I preferred to be anonymous so I sat comfortably in an armchair in the back corner and listened.
The panel consisted of Scott Delahunt, Sailor Mac, Pandora and Tim Nolan (who left after 10 minutes when baby Madoka started getting antsy and loud). Gaffney was hanging around to the sidelines, and I think Ysabet was somewhere there in the front few rows.
           We covered a few things: author avatars (agreed that good ones, like Beans, were possible if they weren't perfect and working solely to feed a God complex), plagiarism (BAD!), and how Anime experience allows for a greater variety of ideas. Overall it was a pretty good discussion, with a fair bit of fan interaction too.
           Right after this I tracked down Sarcasm to see about my Merle costume and our sign-up for the Masquerade. As it turned out she had been looking for me too. We got all signed up and she said I
could hook up with her in one of the private staffer Consuites located on the 9th floor once the fanfic reading was over.
           (With the exception of the gaming room on the 3rd floor, everything was either on the main floor in the convention wing, or the 9th floor.)
           So then I dashed off to the 2nd floor, where Pan-chan's kawaii tea party was already roaring. I showed up and found the room pretty much already packed. A lot of great sugar-shocked goodies were on the bed for anyone to eat, and some Anime tunes were blasting away on a ghetto. I grabbed my own Anime mix CDs and seized control as DJ Overlord, and offered my wasabi-flavoured chips to hapless victims. The chips were surprisingly tasty too, I should add.
           We managed to also draw in a couple of curious otaku passing by, and sucked them into our party madness too. One guy showed up, and it turns out he was a guest from the States. He said that of all the Cons he's been to, we Canucks threw the best, loudest and wildest room parties. Wai!!! ^-^
           Sometime during all this, Jen and Pan-chan made good on their threat. I got stuffed into a kawaii frilly blue apron and was forced to serve meals. I got dolled up in the bathroom, then walked out into a sea of flash photography. There's already pictures up on the Net.
           So...right after this I had to do my hour of time at the AN/charity tables. 3-4pm was my shift, and it was pretty much uneventful.
           I managed a half hour to find Sarcasm again and make final arrangements for getting my costume. And then we did the reading in Havoc's room. I have to say that room was packed to the hilt. There were bodies all over the place; I didn't think this many fans wanted to hear it. Desolation had arrived by now too, and our fansub pimp gave me 2 Excel Saga tapes I'd been wanting for months now too. ^^v
           So the reading began.
           I was Chaos & Havoc was Havoc (natch). Pan-chan did her own voice, a bunch of guys from the audience got to be the chibi-Havocs (and boy did they enjoy that! ;), Vampy made for a great Hotaru, Ysabet did Setsuna's voice, Gaffney was the narrator, and we had a few extra people do some of the spare voices. Joan & Jen were Haruka & Michiru, I believe.
           We had some great reactions from the crowd: groans, laughs, flying octopi (arranged to hit me at a specified line in the script). One of the best unexpected lines came from a point in the fic where Chaos asks Setsuna why she didn't ask Sarcasm for help. Setsuna replies, "Sarcasm said she liked her cookies right where they were, thank you very much."
           Suddenly from the back of the room, we heard Sarcasm squeak, "Hey, I heard that!" No one knew she was even in the room, and it was absolutely hilarious to hear the surprise in her voice. Everyone cracked up. All in all, the reading was definitely a success. Havoc & I have agreed we're going to do another one for AN02.
           Well, no rest for the wicked city hunters.
           After this Sarcasm whisked me away to her Consuite on the 9th floor. She got into her Aisha ClanClan (catgirl babe from Outlaw Star) costume, and I got into my Merle costume. Frighteningly enough, everything worked for me. I had a cute kitty tail sewn into the shorts I was wearing beneath the yellow dress, and had these two large kawaii kitty ears held in place with a leopard-spotted hairband. Those two features alone garnered me a few pictures.
           Once the whole ensemble was done, I stood tall and proud as a Crossplayer. But interestingly enough, I wasn't the only male otaku parading around in a girl's costume. Also present was Derwin Mak (infamous for his Crossplaying) dressed as Tourguide Barbie from Toy Story 2. I hate to say it: he really did have better legs than me...but I still have a cute ass so it evens out!
           Also roaming around was a guy dressed up as Card Captor Sakura in her neko costume. His girlfriend was Tomoyo. The funniest thing about this guy was that he stood somewhere over 6 feet tall, but he had the cutest helpless puppy-dog face I've ever seen. ^^;;
           I got a few odd looks from various otaku as Sarcasm and I roamed over to the Green Room for the Masquerade. I more or less stated in a deep Schwartzeneggar voice, "I'm from the East German Nekojin swim team, yah."
           We met up with Jon/Ragnarock, who was Cosplaying as Van from the Escaflowne movie. The three of us hung around together in the Green Room along with the other 70 Cosplayers...for about 3 freakin' hours. Sarcasm & I had signed up later, so out of 70 entrants we were #63.
           The wait was killer after a while, since we had to sit around and in essence do nothing. But we were able to plan our final choreography for the Masquerade. Sarcasm & I were doing a Celebrity Nekojin Deathmatch of Aisha vs. Merle. The MC (you know, Kilt-Guy!) would announce our names then shout "FIGHT!"
           Cue the Mortal Kombat theme song, and we charge at each other from opposite ends of the stage. It was agreed that I'd make a lot of scary paw swipes--and then Sarcasm would bitch slap me onceacross the face. From there I'd be chased back behind the stage. Sarcasm would then pull out from hiding a life-sized Merle dummy, beat the crap out of it, then rip its detachable head off and brandish it to the cheering throngs.
           I'll report about the roaring success of the skit later.
           Jon also was searching for a good skit for his Van costume. We agreed to loan him the Merle head, whereupon he could do Shakespeare. "Alas, poor Merle. I knew her, Alan. A catgirl of, who am I kidding? She was a pain in the ass and I'm glad she's gone!" He'd then punt the head across the stage, where a techie would return it to us.
           Since Jon was #47, he left earlier than us for the line-up backstage. Many of the other Cosplayers were rather stunned when we opened up the garbage bag hiding the Merle stunt-dummy's corpse and then handed John the severed head. There were some startled gasps.
           I naturally quelled the situation by pulling out the rest of the headless body and saying, "Aw, don't worry. We have the rest of her right here!" ^-^
           Inevitably our time came, and we headed off.
           Jon's skit with the Merle head was also a roaring success, the audience cheering wildly when he punted the dummy head across the stage. I hear he got good yardage with it too.
           A while later our time came to go onstage. Now bear in mind that only a handful of otaku had seen me in the Merle costume before the Masquerade. Sarcasm went first when "Aisha" was called up. Then I strutted onto the stage as "Merle." There was applause, then a noticeable 3-4 seconds of surprise as it dawned on a lot of the otaku that I was in fact a guy. This was followed by even wilder applause as I encouraged the crowd to give me more love by flexing my manly Nekojin muscles.
           The music began, and I crouched low for my beginning pose. Then we charged, and when Sarcasm bitch-slapped neko ears flew off. Neither of us were expecting it, so I clapped my hands over my pink wing and screamed "I'm deaf!" Then I grabbed my ears, put them back on, and proceeded to race around the stage on all fours as Sarcasm gave chase. Then I jumped into the shadows and Sarcasm hauled out the dummy.
           The crowd was nothing short of wild when she pounded the dummy twice before decapitating my stunt double. Now *that* is a masquerade skit!! ^-^
           We watched the last few skits of the masquerade, the final one being rather cute. Someone dressed up as Gene Simmons/the Demon from KISS. As he did some brief lip-synching I remarked to Sarcasm from the back, "You know, this skit would be great if some of the Devil Hunter Yohko girls appeared and killed him."
           Seconds later, 3 Devil Hunter girls appeared and killed him.
           Wishes do come true after all! ^-^
           So the Masquerade was pretty good...even if I didn't get to see all of it. Apparently they stopped accepting entries at #70 because we were so full anyways. A shame too, since where was a kick-ass Lupin & Jigen (this guy WAS Jigen, I swear, from the cigarette to the beard to the hat tilted to cover his eyes!) who weren't a part of the Masquerade.
           You know how all Masquerades tend to have themes/reoccurring characters? Well, we had about 4: Sailor Moon, Digi Charat, Devil Hunter Yohko, and feathery wings. Probably thanks to the Sailor Jamboree cosplayers, we had about a dozen or so various Senshi running around. We had about 2 sets of the Digi Charat characters, and about 3 sets of the Devil Hunter Yokho crew. Wings were also popular, with the two best coming from a girl dressed as Dota-chan from Bakuretsu Hunter...and one of the most incredible set of red wings worn by a guy as Kamui from X. The crimson wings were so big he needed a special harness so they wouldn't fall off.
           Post-masquerade there were the usual barrage of picture requests. Sarcasm & I posed together for all of ours--me holding the Merle stunt-double's body, and Sarcasm holding the dummy's severed head.
           Well, sometime later we returned to Sarcasm's Consuite to get out from our costumes. Sarcasm especially didn't like how heavy her shoulderpads and armour were. I on the other hand had grown so fond of having a kitty tail and ears that I had her stitch my neko-tail onto my jeans (which stayed on until the Con ended) and wore the neko-ears hairband as long as I could...until the Rat Bastard or Trixie stole it.
           Incidentally, I still do have the ears.
           Sadly I forgot the tail in Jen's room. Even if I Cosplay next year, I think I'll have a neko-tail for whenever I'm going casual. Neko-tails are fun, I highly recommend every otaku try one out! ^^v
           By the time we had a chance to breathe easy in more casual gear, the J-Pop dance was already underway. The only problem with it was that the awards for the Masquerade (for which Sarcasm & I won a Presentation award for Best Catfight) cut into it and took 45 minutes long. With the Masquerade running late as it was, that sliced our dance party down from 4 hours to just under 2 hours.
           Carnage has vowed to let this tragedy not be repeated again.
           I didn't dance all that much at the party, to be honest. Which was just as well, since I got recruited to help Trixie come up with strange dance contest ideas and then hand our prizes out to anyone we thought was worthy. Here's the list of the contest ideas we had, though we were barely able to do 5 of them:

           -best Sana/Hayama hyper dance
           -best melodranatic bishie angst display
           -most diabetic kawaii genki dance
           -best sexy commando dance
           -best Asaba Sexy Dance
           -best "dance in Cosplay character" dance
           -most innovative form
           -dancer most likely to be ejected for idiotic dancing
           -best "I can't dance (to save the universe)" dance (given
           out simultaneously with the idiotic dancing award!)
           -best mecha/EVA wanna-be dance
           -best magical girl transformation/dance
           -best death scene dance (every time the music stops, the
           dancers drop dead)
           -best "Too sexy for this dance" dance
           -best "too much testosterone & caffeine" J-Rock dance
           -best Dark Schneider moves
           -best ninja dance
           -best over-the-top idol singer impression
           -best bust a groover
           -best inanimate Anime object dance
           -best Ryo Ohki pattycake dance
           -best SD dance
           -best lemony striptease
           -best evil overlord dance
           -best love-love slow dance
           -best dance to revolutionize the world
           -most badly dubbed dance ("Oh. Dance. Dance.")
           -best dance with a mascot
           -best DBZ "ridiculously aggressive pose" dance

           And for the record, I was one of the 2 winners for the best Asaba Sexy Dance contest. I won a Doji Tshirt, which I later gave to Havoc since he's the Dojiphile.
           Once it finished around 2am, the J-Pop dance was commended by a lot of otaku (who adored the fact that at an Anime Convention we actually played *Anime* tunes at the dance!), and naturally the expectations are high for next year. I retired to my room sans Neko-ears (Trixie had them) and having to fend off people tugging on my Neko-tail. From there I crashed and slept.


Sunday, May 27.

           This day was nothing but a blur of things I think I might have done and a lot of stuff I can't even recall. I woke up around 9:30am, groggy but semi-coherent. Realize that while I'd been getting enough sleep, I think my food consumption was about half of what it usually was. In fact, Sunday was the day I didn't eat anything until really around 11 that night. I did some nibbling & grazing on snacks every now and again, but my appetite was missing and presumed to have taken a trip to Acapulco.
           There wasn't much to do on Sunday. All the Anime showings were ones I had seen before, and the panels didn't thrill me at all. So I stopped by and caught a reprise of the Music Video winners for an hour before seeing how Havoc was doing. He hadn't been doing much.
           For a while we roamed in no particular cluster. Desolation had naturally been up watching Anime all night and (this being Deso) was still wide awake and coherent as ever. This man lives for going 72 hours without sleep. Deso, Vampy, her boyfriend and I stopped by an impromptu panel and discussed who was the cutest Anime lesbian with the bass-beats of the Sera Myu (SM musical) presentation in the room next door thumping in the background.
           In the end we agreed that there had to be a distinction. In terms of "kawaii cute", Tomoyo from CCS won out. But in terms of "sexy cute" Haruka was by far the best winner. We seriously needed a list in front of us though. Maybe next Con....
           I think I wandered the Dealer's room a few more times before I settled down early at the AN/charity tables. They needed me to show up half an hour earlier than planned since the charity auction was about to start and the guy currently manning the tables had to help present. So I hung around the dealer's room and played with my Neko-tail when I wasn't fielding questions or hocking AN goodies.
           I think during this time Fred Ladd (who was responsible for pretty much single-handedly bringing Anime to North America both in the 70's and in the late 90's) was given a really cool crystal Lifetime Achievement award. Which in my mind he justly deserves. From the sounds of it, he was floored by the idea that we not only wanted him at the Con, but gave him awards and lavished profuse attention & applause on him for what's he done for pushing Anime in this hemisphere.
           By this time it was around 3:30pm.
           I figured the Con would have ended around noon, but this year the closing ceremonies didn't end until around 6:30 or 7pm. I really did some mindless, nomadic wandering around the hotel until the closing ceremonies. There we managed to catch the latest cool trailer for the FF movie on big-screen.
           Incidentally, we had also been loaned a really impressive FF movie poster that was matted on the back. We had to shoot down countless requests from otaku willing to buy it or to sleep with someone who could get it for them. If the company loaning it to us hadn't vowed to go on a bloody axe-wielding rampage if the poster wasn't returned, guaranteed Beans would be getting it in the mail.
           So at around 7pm the Con officially ended.
           And so the otaku all disappeared, leaving the hotel unnervingly empty and quiet. I was chilled at now being able to get an elevator within 6 seconds on pushing the call button, and finding the cab not overflowing with people too. Mostly the only ones who were still staying overnight were those among the Con staff and guests.
           Carnage recruited a bunch of us to help dismantle the stage. Gaffney, myself, Havoc and Ysabet's boyfriend were among those voluntold to help. We did fine--until Havoc nearly crushed his foot and hobbled off. About 3 hours later we were all as tired as hell and rumour had it that a complimentary dinner was being offered on the 3rd floor (where a semi-secret Consuite room was). We all ventured over there, eager to eat then finish the last of the packing.
           Unfortunately one of the Con staff ladies snapped at us royally. Now I can take these things rather well. In fact, all she really had to say was "please don't eat the food yet. We want to feed all our guests for the Con first." However we didn't need the PMS-filled tirade which carried on for about 8 paragraphs and left all of us feeling ready to lynch her right there on the spot.
           Since it was 10pm already, I announced that I was going to take a jacuzzi dip right then and there (since it was my last and only chance to do so the entire Con). Ysabet and her boyfriend left with me. Gaffney joined us when I said he could borrow a pair of my shorts in lieu of the fact that he was sans swimsuit for the Con.
           I have to say, that time in the jacuzzi could not have come at a more desirable time. The entire pool area was deserted when the four of us went in. I myself hadn't realized how tense I was until I sat in the jacuzzi for a few minutes and then felt my entire body go into "happy limp as a wet noodle" mode. Ysabet, Sean & I chatted about fanfiction for a bit, and my mood was seriously improved.
           By this time, all of the other Con guests were now infiltrating the pool. Even though we really didn't chat with them, it was still a fun, relaxed atmosphere with most everyone congregating in the jacuzzi and just sharing a laugh as we soothed our sore bodies.
           After this, the four of us dried off and met at the hotel's pub. Turns out Mayhem, Havoc, Jen & Carnage were already there eating. We joined them and got our own orders. Joan also showed up later to join us.
           All I recall about the dinner was that I was totally relaxed and feeling pleasant about the world. And that I ordered a really strange quesedilla platter. These quesedillas were wrapped up into long stick shapes and then deep-fried. They were then stuck lengthwise into a brandy glass that was half-filled with guacamole, salsa and cheese dip. I wasn't expecting this presentation, but with a grin I looked up to the waitress and said, "What, no straw?"
           She laughed, and I scarfed down all my quesedillas. Then I proceeded to devour any and all leftover chicken wings from other meals. I hadn't realized how hungry I was until then.
           Before this was done though, Carnage called us out to help with the midnight loading of the tech equipment van. But they didn't need Sean or myself; the second we were nominated to leave, all that remained was a dissipating trail of dust where the both of us had been standing. Sean & I retired to Havoc's room, where a few rounds of Sake were consumed.
           Somewhere during this I retrieved my neko-ears. Now to put the following scene into proper perspective, sometime earlier we had been debating what sort of animal each of us were personality-wise. Jen took slight insult when we came to her and I immediately called out, "angry badger!"
           Sometime right before this night's Sake drinking, Havoc had said a remark about his guiding muse that got Jen scowling. My response was, "Havoc, don't piss off your spirit guide. You know how testy badgers get when you anger them."
           Jen proceeded to chase me out of the Consuite and down the hall. I also managed to spin around, duck under her and then race back past Havoc, was laughing as he watched us go. He later remarked that the neko-ears I'd been wearing had ceased to be a Cosplay thing; in that moment, I was an SD Chaos with kitty ears.
           We toasted to the Con and to the gang, and I called it a night there. I also said my final good-byes, since I had to catch an early bus on Monday. I worked in the afternoon...which wouldn't have been a problem, but I didn't realize Mayhem had been staying overnight, or that the Con ended as late as it did.
           I crashed around 1am after reading some of Mayhem's bilingual Love Hina tankobans.


Monday, May 28.

           Alarm went off at 8:30am.
           I woke up closer to 9am.
           The original plan had been for Mayhem & I to leave around 11am (checkout was noon anyways), head to his apartment via a bus or taxi, then I'd catch the subway downtown and hop on an early afternoon bus. Soon it was evident that Mayhem, with some final accounting things to settle, wouldn't be leaving the hotel any time soon.
           We had breakfast at the Terrace, the hotel's upperclass restaurant. I feel depressed that I hadn't been all that hungry, eating only some oatmeal, bacon, a croissant, some sausages, orange juice, milk and half an omelette. More because I knew I should have been hungrier, and that Mayhem was paying for our $17 a person buffet.
           Anyhoo, after this I decided to head out on my own. As luck would have it, there was a main bus route at the intersection right in front of the hotel. I caught a bus, went to the nearest subway station, and then headed downtown. The entire trip took about an hour, getting me into the bus station at noon. I quickly grabbed a ticket then caught the 12:30pm bus home to Kitchener.
           By the time I arrived home, I had only two and half hours of peace before I had to start work. I was totally wiped, and didn't do or say much around this time. I was content to just unpack and then erase the 35 spams from my Email inbox which had accumulated over the weekend in my absence.
           Now in a strange twist, usually it is that you go to work feeling fairly energetic and then come home exhausted. For me it was the reverse. I went to work dead tired, but the mobility and some time spent outdoors lugging cardboard into the recycling containers really gave me a much needed boost. It might have also been the fact that I had eaten my first really healthy meal since Thursday night. Regardless, I was rather charged when I came home from work at 9pm.
           I did some surfing to catch myself up on the web comics and such, watched some Excel Saga, then began work on this Con report. I finished it Tuesday, but what else can one expect when the report's hitting 16 pages in length? Oh, and on the final note: I slept about 11 hours on Tuesday and caught up on all my sleep. Wai! ^^v
           So that's Chaos' really lengthy Con report. Just remember, you asked for details. And this being Chaos, the word 'concise' (or 'short') is a filthy piece of jargon you shall never again speak in my presence!