I have been to every Anthrocon since it started in 1997 so this year's AC is my sixth! On the whole, it gets better every year with more attendees, better programming and events. I didn't think AC 2001 was quite as good though but this year's certainly was a lot of fun.
I know Uncle Kage asked everyone, in the closing ceremonies, not to bitch about the elevators but they were in pretty bad shape this year. There was an ongoing elevator renovation project underway so that meant one of the four elevators was out of service the whole time during the con. Of the remaining three, one was the bungee elevator. It would shake and jerk around, and stop and open the door up to six inches above the floor. One of the other elevators would stop at every floor, whether or not anyone had pressed the buttons. The last elevator was, to my knowledge, running properly although someone informed me that it skipped lots of floors.
And finally, I still don't understand why the hotel can't cut everyone (who has reserved a hotel room, that is) a break on the parking fees. Yes, the parking is run by an outside firm. That is no excuse. The hotel can't pick up a $5 per day charge? In all likelihood, it won't even cost that much once they negotiate terms with the parking operator.
On to the report...
Thursday, July 11
Started in the morning. Just had to go find a trio of geocaches that were located near the beginning of the NJ Turnpike. You know I can't resist those. :) None of them were inherently difficult to find even if I ended up taking the hard way to the last one -- bushwhacking through the tall reeds!
The turnpike was clear all the way. The drive took 2 hours from the start of the turnpike to the Adam's Mark. 90 minutes to get to Route 1, and 30 excruciating minutes through slow-moving traffic and numerous traffic lights for the remaining 10 miles. Is there a better way to get there? I think I should try the Walt Whitman bridge one of these years.
Arrived in the area pretty early. I figured the hotel wouldn't let me check in until 3pm so I had lunch at Chun Hing, the Chinese restaurant in the Pathmark strip mall behind the hotel. I had no idea Singapore noodles came with a fried egg on top.
Both the hotel check-in and the con registration proceeded swiftly. I had a pre-reg so it was just a matter of picking up the badge and conbook. I noticed too late that they hadn't given me the Sponsor T-shirt. Oh well... will take care of that another day.
Noticed that they used six comic strips that I sent in for the conbook. That's quite a number. Wow!
Since there were a few hours to kill before the next event, I went out geocaching. Pulled into Smedley Park... and what do I find? A guard rail with "Morton Crew" carved into it. I have a crew? :)
It so happened that there were two caches in that park. One of them was a multi-cache that seemed like it would take too much time. I did, however, manage to get at least the first stage of it while on my way to the regular cache.
One of the new events they introduced this year was the Twisted Mixer, a social for Thursday evening. I got back from the caches in time to take a look at the event but I think it got to a slow start. I was there half an hour into it and there were only pretzels and a bunch of furs standing/sitting around. I heard there was karaoke a bit later. Anyway, I decided to go for dinner a mile down City Avenue at Popeyes, which by the way is named for a character in the movie "The French Connection" and not the cartoon character. Just so you know. :)
Then I called it a night. (*poof* Now, it's night.)
Friday, July 12
Had a breakfast sandwich from the 7 Eleven.
I noticed there was a dog sculpture just across the hotel in front of the 10 NBC studios so I went to check it out. Also found another one later in front of the Saks Fifth Avenue just down City Avenue. Wonder how many of the con attendees noticed these.
The fiberglass dogs are a public exhibition by the Main Line Art Center. The outdoor art exhibition is titled Art Unleashed and is similar in concept to the cow parade, which invaded New York City a while back.
Got back to the hotel and hung my art in the art show. Also handed off the items I was donating to the charity auction: a Meeko plushie (24") and a ferret plushie. All went smoothly.
Since it was a while before the Dealer's Den opened, I checked out some of the panels in progress and also went up to the con suite for a bit to have some breakfast cereal. Very nice indeed although I wish, for convenience, the con suite was downstairs. Oh well... can't have everything in lower lobby.
Then of course came the spending spree at the Dealer's Den. Bought lots of comics... everything since the last AC, practically. Also purchased a neat button for a friend. And finally, picked up my contributor's copies of NAF and Fur Visions. I was just about done when a 9-foot tall contraption came walking by... the MechaWolf!
Isn't that amazing?
Met up with some of the Hudsonfurs in the lower lobby: Jbadger, Lulu and several others. Heard there was an art swap or a room meet of some kind being planned but I don't know what came of it.
Then I went upstairs, put on my unicorn suit and went for a test walk up on the 23rd floor. I sure was glad I did that as I worked out some of the problems and loose ends in doing so and could be more confident roaming the rest of the hotel in fursuit.
Dinner was at the Taipei and Tokyo restaurant, which is basically the same restaurant as the Chinese restaurant on City Avenue last year but with a new management. Didn't seem to be doing too well business-wise though as I was the only customer. Hmm... was it such a good idea to eat there? :)
After dinner, I went to the furry mad libs panel for some laughs before heading to the artist reception.
That was the first time I'd been to the art show area since I checked in. One piece in particular was pretty shocking. It was in the mature section and was titled "Painful Reflections". It was a drawing of a human face bleeding from the nose and mouth with a belt around the neck. There were suicide notes, court notices, etc pasted all over the art piece. There were also pills glued on the art piece. I'm not sure if those were anti-psychotic medication or drugs used in a suicide attempt.
Anyway, I hung around a while talking to some of the other artists and the art show staff. (and having some of the cheese and crackers)
Then I took a peek into the zoo and watched some video games. Having the zoo on the lobby level this year was maybe not such a great idea. Because the room was away from the lower lobby, where all the action was, not too many furs visited the zoo. Hope the arrangement will improve next year.
Went back to my room, put on my unicorn suit and went down to the lower lobby. What a blast! My first fursuiting experience in the main con area. Walked the hallway back and forth, playing with other furs and fursuiters. Had my picture taken quite a number of times. Even went to the dance for a bit. But whew, it got hot after some time. So I snuck around to the Headless Lounge to cool off. As soon as I entered in the lounge and removed the costume head, a volunteer handed me a cup of water. Wow! I noticed he was there helping out nearly every time I was in the lounge and, as the fursuiter with the shark suit said, he was a godsend!
Saturday, July 13
Breakfast was a bag of donuts from Dunkin Donuts.
Stopped by the Dealers Den to pick up more stuff. Also stopped by the art show briefly. I didn't see anything inexpensive that I'd particularly like to bid on. I did, however, cast my vote for favorite piece.
After that, I attended some panels and caught the last half of Kage's Story Hour. It was a funny story of his misadventures in France.
Then it was time for the Charity Auction and I stayed for at least half of it. At MFM, Kage made a wager that he would shave his hair into a mohawk if AC's charity auction brought in more than $10,000. So on some of the more expensive items, like the guitar signed by Sting, he would taunt the bidders saying that they didn't have the guts to bid higher and he'd keep his hair. The Meeko plushie I donated fetched $120! I didn't stay around long enough to see how much the ferret plushie would get but Rigel should be posting the complete list of items and final bids soon.
Dinner was at Chili's. A server who saw my Anthrocon t-shirt asked me what kind of convention it was so I explained a little. He thought it was cool.
Got back to the hotel and watched the Masquerade. Seems like there were more comedy skits this year and fewer songs. I thought that was great.
After the masquerade, I went back up to my room, wore my fursuit and came back down to the lower lobby. More foolin' around and photos. Boy, does time fly when you're having fun in a fursuit. When I got back to my room, I noticed that I'd been in fursuit for more than two hours! Okok... so lots of that time was spent in the Headless Lounge but it was still way longer than I'd ever worn the suit.
Still, that's nothing compared to Jugular Jaguar. Does he EVER get out of his fursuit?? :)
Sunday, July 14
Breakfast was leftover donuts and some snacks at the con suite.
Stopped by the Rapid T Rabbit taping party but they weren't quite ready and the room was getting crowded so I took note of the extended taping session later in the afternoon and went back to my room to wear my fursuit.
Then I went down to the Headless Lounge to join all the other fursuiters who were getting ready for the fursuit parade. The plan was to parade around the Dealers Den, the Artists Alley, go upstairs (remember: 10 steps, 8 steps, 11 steps) and walk around the elevators and gather around by Appleby's for the group photo.
After the photos, we went back downstairs (11 steps, 8 steps, 10 steps) and paraded around the Dealers Den and Artists Alley again before heading back to the Headless Lounge to collapse from the heat. :)
A count of the fursuiters was taken during the parade. There were 97. Out of 1630 con attendees, that would be nearly 6% in fursuits! You have to wonder how this proportion changes from year to year. Just imagine... if it ever got to over 99% in the parade, who would take the pictures? :)
Hung out at the lounge a bit and then went back to my room to change. I heard the Philly Inquirer had an article about Anthrocon so I went to the supermarket to buy a copy. Man, that Acme is as packed as the Shoprite around here on Sunday! Lunch was at Popeyes.
Went back to the hotel and watched the taping of the Rapid T Rabbit show.
Then it was time to do the artist check-out at the art show and pick up any unsold pieces. Surprise! Surprise! Nothing was left. This is the first time I sold everything. Much to everyone's amusement, I imagine, I went back to my panels again and again to see if they really were empty. :) Because I was preparing for the fursuit parade at around the art show closing time, I had no idea how many bids or how much each piece fetched. I'll just have to wait for the summary sheet to arrive in the mail.
After that, I watched the closing ceremonies. The highlight, of course, was Kage's mohawk cut. There was a licensed barber in attendance and he did the job on stage. Points made a similar bet and got his beard shaved. And oh by the way, we need to raise $30,000 next year for the grass skirt and coconut shells. :)
Dinner was sushi at Taipei and Tokyo.
After dinner, I went to the fursuit dead dog party in the Headless Lounge. Food and fun. And someone brought in a great sound system! Stayed until a bit past midnight before calling it a night.
Monday, July 15
Packed everything up and loaded the car. Had breakfast at McDonald's and then came back to check out of the hotel and say my final farewells.
Then I was on the road again to bag five geocaches north of Philly. I'd strung them up so I could hit them all on the way home. On the way to the first geocache, I drove on a stone paved road. How quaint and annoyingly bumpy at the same time. But for anyone who's interested, I believe that's a stretch of the Bethlehem Pike. Just warn your passengers not to drink any coffee while you go bumpity-bump for the next few miles.