The Con Chronicles: A Day of 5ks, Wondercon, and Everything In Between

In All, Conventions by David

WonderCon 2015 came and went in early April. This time I have been working on something a little different so it took a little longer to get right (okay a lot longer). So enjoy, and maybe this will become more of a norm for future con coverage (but I doubt it).

Saturday April 4, 2015 Day 2 of WonderCon

4:56 AM PDT: I awaken. Slightly earlier than I meant to… This is quite annoying. I wonder if I should go ahead and get up. Instead I lie in bed contemplating the mysteries of the universe. Also I am definitely still sick. The universe has a cruel sense of humor.

5:01 AM: There’s the alarm. Now I really have to get up. Why? Obviously it’s because I hate myself. Why else would I agree to run a 5k on the morning of WonderCon? Madness.

5:45 AM: I arrive at my friends’ place. We’ll all be running together, then heading to WonderCon, which means we have all made the same terrible mistake. They seem upbeat. Perhaps they don’t yet realize what we’ve done. Luckily, due to logistical reasons, I am not the one who has to drive to the race, and thus WonderCon afterwards. This is a small blessing. Praise to the helix fossil.

6:10 AM: The car ride is pleasant. There is small talk and a continued lack of comprehension of how foolish our decision will be.


The mountains watch judgingly in the distance.

6:30 AM: We arrive at the Santa Anita Race Track. After being awkwardly guided to a parking spot, we exit the car and head off toward the long process of getting registered for the race.

6:45 AM: We finish registering for the race… Dammit. We all agree that we miscalculated our arrival time, as we now have more than an hour before the 5k actually begins. The bad decisions just keep coming. At least the goody bag they gave us for participating has some food in it… a small comfort.


Look at the sun rising… Oh, how it mocks me as it rises.

7:30 AM: We re-emerge from the car. Time to stretch and get warmed up for the 5k. In theory this is very important. What I actually do is phone in a couple of stretches that, while they don’t hurt, probably aren’t the most effective. Eventually each of us goes to line up with the right wave for the pace we want to run at.


Hmm. I would rather be at Dave & Buster’s right now.

8:00 AM: The 5k officially starts. The fastest pace wave begins. I now have my headphones in. I am getting into the zone. The zone that helps me forget how much I hate running… okay, not really, but it at least it helps me tolerate running slightly more. Imagine Dragons sets the beat in my head. Everyone else begins to dissipate, for I run alone. Running is a battle between me and my defiant mind and body. Other people are just a distraction in this fight.


Prepare to run through the chute!

8:14 AM: My wave steps up to begin running. I have switched from music to a sports podcast. Music is great for getting me pumped up, but has proven distracting while running. It makes me too aware of how much time is passing as I run, and then makes me think about whether I am running fast enough. All of this gives ammunition to my brain as it tries to convince me to stop running. Then the announcer tells my wave to go, and I start running. One of my friends sprints ahead while the other two are a bit behind me, but I pay no mind to either any of them. As always as I begin to run, I question all of my life decisions that led to this moment. I really, really hate running, so why am I running? My brain can offer no explanation other than stubbornness.

8:24 AM: I am going slower than I normally do. The friends that lagged behind me at first have now passed me. The sickness has drained me, and there will be no going faster. My mind and body urge me to stop, but that is normal. I ignore both as I pass the first mile marker. I will finish when I finish. Until then there is only running, and the podcast.

8:34 AM: It turns out I was lying. Apparently, I cannot stand being passed by anyone pushing a stroller even if they are moving impressively fast. If a stroller pusher passes or almost passes, I speed up to regain my lead, forcing myself to put distance between us. It is silly, and I know that, but running this 5k was silly to begin with. I grab water as I pass the table. Soon the two mile marker is behind me. I am getting closer to my destination.

8:43 AM: After navigating through the stables and outside parts of the track, I enter the main race track itself, then the final stretch on the inner part of the track. Last year I found the track quite hard to run on, but this year was easier. The end point doesn’t seem as far away, even if I am definitely going at a slower pace than the year before. I cross the finish line and finally slow to a walk. I grab my medal for participation, and slowly walk over to receive the food and water given out after the race.

9:00 AM: By this point I have mostly recovered and my body no longer seems to hate me… well except my stomach, but that’s just the sickness talking. I begin the process of locating my friends. They all finished ahead of me, but apparently didn’t bring their phones. Did they assume we would all find each other via telepathy? …okay, so we do find each other somehow, so points for them.


The happy finishers.

9:30 AM: We continue walking around the infield of the racetrack. Our times have all been posted. I find my name: 29:20. Not as good a time as last year, but about as good as could be expected, since I haven’t been running as much lately (and, you know, sick). Pictures are taken to commemorate the event, and so I have pictures for this blog post (at least I have my priorities in order).


Medals, medals, everywhere!


5k Complete

10:00 AM: We have dillied and dallied too long. We have to embark now on the trek from Arcadia to Anaheim. WonderCon awaits.


One horse photo for the road.

10:30 AM: The drive is pleasant, but my friends are slowly beginning to realize the foolishness of our course of action. Everyone is sore and tired. This will be a long day. Still, we talk about what to be excited about at WonderCon this year. The day before had been a slow day at the con, although I did get to see the new Animation Show of Shows–fun as always, even if this year it was mainly the Oscar nomination short list for Animated Shorts. I got to watch The Dam Keeper and Duet again, so that can only be a good thing. The Geek & Sundry Trivia Panel was also fun, even if I didn’t have the energy to participate when volunteers were called (and was annoyed when one of the volunteers decided he should be as much a part of the panel as the panelist). Plus, I finally found a Pan’s Labyrinth poster to add to my ever growing poster stack, so a good day overall. Enough about Day 1 of WonderCon, though–it’s time for Day 2.

The search ended in awesome!

The search ended in awesome!

11:00 AM: We arrive in Anaheim. The directions to parking are not that useful. I am tempted to ignore them, and just have the car head toward the lots I have used at past WonderCons, but yesterday the directions were accurate, so I guess I should give them the benefit of the doubt. I am sure everything will go smoothly.

11:15 AM: I am so wrong… the lot is full. I knew the directions were wrong. Now we are stuck in a slow traffic loop. It is clear that WonderCon is trying to artificially control traffic by leading everyone down the same long loop. Then the traffic cop screws that up by forcing our car to go into the wrong lane. Now we have to find new parking. My stomach still hates me. This is going to be a long day.

11:39 AM: It takes time, but we redirect ourselves to new parking. Everyone changes into normal clothes. There is a renewed energy, even if I can tell it is just barely holding back the sickness.

And we wait...

And we wait…

11:50 AM: We try to decide if we should take a shuttle or just walk to the convention center. The shuttle takes too long, so walking wins by default.

12:15 PM: Walking was probably a poor choice. We are all sore, and my stomach still roars in disapproval at me. The fellow con-goers surround us, many in cosplay. Sick and tired I may be, but it is still nice to be in con season again. There is nothing like it. Food is always an issue at these things–too expensive or unhealthy–so I am relieved to see a Subway (never thought I would say that) as we approach the convention center. As we eat, we watch three girls in cosplay walk by about four times. At some point they will have to pick a place to eat or move on. Then again, maybe they just kept pacing out front in a perpetual loop until the end of time.

12:45 PM: After a trip to the CVS Pharmacy, we arrive at the convention center. I already have my badge, but I wait for my friends to get theirs. Con-goers scurry around me. More costumes. I know I should be taking pictures, but it is so much effort… I’ll take pictures once I am on the floor.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

1:09 PM: Finally, I am walking the convention floor again. I take pictures as I go. There is no panel I wish to go to until 3:45, so I have plenty of time to wander.


Back again!

1:23 PM: While wandering, I run into my roommate and his girlfriend and set up times to meet for panels before separating again. The booths sprawl out before us until we stop by the Tardis replica. Seeing as I am wearing my Phantom Tardis shirt (mix between Phantom Tollbooth and Dr. Who), my friend insists I take a picture in it. Someone is standing by with a donation bucket. Not wanting to seem like a dick, we frantically search to see if any of us have actual cash on us. One of us has a dollar, so, crisis averted. The picture is taken, and we move on.


It was not bigger on the inside…

1:30 PM: I return to a booth I found yesterday that does pretty cool pop culture art. The problem is that most of it is based on properties I don’t care that much about, which is something that happens to me a lot at these cons–I find a cool artist, but none of their art is of anything I actually like. At some point I should just really pick an artist and commission them to do something I would like. This booth, however, did have some Cowboy Beebop art, which is awesome because very few people do Beebop art anymore. But is this particularly good Beebop art, or do I simply have no real basis for comparison? As someone who is both picky and poor (the latter may influence the former), I generally find if I don’t buy something immediately, I almost never buy it (and if I do, I quickly come to regret it), and this case was no different. Maybe if I hadn’t bought the Pan’s Labyrinth poster yesterday… but in the end, I passed on the art and continued on my way. 

1:47 PM: As we pass the Capcom booth, I marvel at their set up for the Monster Hunter shop. I am not really a fan of the series, but setting up a shop in a treasure box is awesome. So kudos to Capcom for the impressive presentation.

This treasure chest is full of congoers!

This treasure chest is full of con-goers!

1:54 PM: On our way to meet another friend by the San Andreas Experience, when we pass the Nintendo booth. I look at the Amiibo display case and covet enviously all the ones I do not have. Seriously, putting a Villager in the case is just mean. It is something you just cannot find for a reasonable price. Instead of going to get my WonderCon tickets early on Thursday, I spent time in Gamestop trying to pre-order Wave 4 of Amiibos. I secured my Ness, but Lucina and Robin are but a dream. Especially Lucina, who sells out seemingly before she is even available (she is the waifu of Amiibos). I regret not pre-ordering Splatoon Amiibos as they look awesome… Hey, wait, is that a Splatoon shirt being given out by the Ninendo booth? Time to earn some tickets.

I want all of them. Stop tempting me with what I can't have Nintendo!

I want all of them. Stop tempting me with what I can’t have, Nintendo!

2:00 PM: I start by playing Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. I have already played the demo, so now I’m just messing around until the ticket giver sees fit to bestow upon me the first of the three I need. I’m also explaining to others around me how to play, since Code Name: S.T.E.A.M is not the most intuitive game ever.  Next I move on to the Xenoblade port for the 3DS. Now, I love, love, love Xenoblade; it is one of the best games I have ever played. I just want to see how the port holds up. The attendant asks if I want to start the game over, and I decline, because I have already played it (plus I should move quickly so I can go meet my friend). As I explore this new version, nostalgia rushes in, and I am really impressed by the 3D in the new 3DS. You still have to properly position it, but once you get the right angle and distance, the illusion is seamless. The world of the game just gets… deeper.

2:07 PM: One more ticket is obtained, and I go to the final set-up for Monster Hunter 4. My friends and I do a local co-op mission with another person, and run around hunting some monster. The game still bugs me, but it does seem like fun. Maybe this is the one I will finally give a real shot. We finish the mission, and the final ticket is mine.

2:13 PM: I turn my tickets in, and claim my prize: a Splatoon shirt! It doesn’t make up for the sting of not pre-ordering the Amiibos, but it’s a start. I then bid farewell to my fellow 5k-ers as they head off to a panel. I am now alone, drifting through the sea of con-goers as I head to the San Andreas Experience.

2:28 PM: I arrive, but I was too slow. My friend is already finished and gone. The line for the experience is just not worth it, so after some text exchanges I head off to find him.


Lots of people here, but not my friends. Also, even The Rock may not be able to save this film. Wait, who am I kidding? The Rock can do anything.

2:39 PM: I find my friend by the Graffiti Tees booth. I then proceed to spend the last of my time before I needed to head off to my panel talking about shirts, other cons, and what color works best with what shirt. (I have probably been having this conversation too much lately, but damn it, some colors just work better than others with certain images.) My stomach and I have reached a détente: it realized I will continue to ignore it, and so has become less troublesome, but the pain hasn’t gone away completely, acting as a constant reminder that I should be at home right now, not enjoying myself at a con after running a 5k. I count this as a victory.

3:01 PM: After bidding those friends farewell, I head off to 300DE. Unlike SDCC, WonderCon doesn’t require that much effort to get into a specific panel. Generally you can just walk right in, and you usually just go to a panel before the one you want to see to make sure you get better seats. I keep thinking I am walking into a Marvel panel, but quickly realize that I am walking into an American Odyssey panel. I have missed part of the pilot, but just sit down and jump right in after I am given a cool American flag bandana. The pilot was surprisingly not terrible, and after listening to the showrunners talk about it, I may actually try to keep up with what is happening. If nothing else, the show will never be boring.

You have my interest American Odyssey. Don't waste it.

You have my interest, American Odyssey. Don’t waste it.

3:45 PM: After meeting back up with my roommate we move much closer for the TV Guide Magazine’s Fan Favorite Showrunners, which we are quite excited about because we get to hear funny anecdotes from Community creator Dan Harman, Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch, and many more. Harman and Hirsch are sat by each other and in the center as if the panel already knows the two of them will be the center of attention. This should be an absolute treat.

So much starpower I can't even fit it all into one picture.

So much starpower I can’t even fit it all into one picture.

3:55 PM: Listening to the dueling banjos of Harmon and Hirsch is quite humorous. Both of them have a magnetic charisma and even among other superstar showrunners they stand out. Harmon speaks about how being a showrunner is both a good and a bad thing. Sure, you have all the control, but that also means you’re the only person you can blame if things go wrong. This is especially true now that Community is on Yahoo, where Harmon has even more control than before, so now he has no one to hate for the show’s direction other than himself. Hirsch, meanwhile, talks about how he never leaves his office–partly because he is a control freak, and partly because his name is on the show, so if something isn’t working it is his job to make it right.

The main attraction.

The main attraction.

4:10 PM: Graeme Manson (the showrunner of Orphan Black) has strangely not really gotten a chance to talk that much, although that’s nothing compared to the showrunner for Salem, Brannon Braga, who looks completely out of place, as if he’s above the entire panel. This makes him the most interesting panelist here–next to Harmon and Hirsch, of course. Harmon seems to find ways to make himself a part of any answer. It is both endearing and annoying, a phrase that applies to Harmon in general. Meanwhile, Hirsch says the way to get your way is to just be more persistent than your opposition. Which is, of course, the only way one could make an episode on the Disney channel that features animal heads spewing forth blood and screaming “Ancient sins!” Then again, Disney did bury the hell out of that episode, giving almost no notice of its release and spacing at least three weeks between the episodes before and after it. Quite frankly, we may never see that episode again at this point. Still, Padippica! Padippica! Padippica! (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out Gravity Falls!)

Your time will come Graeme Manson... in like an hour and half once your panel starts.

Your time will come, Graeme Manson… in like an hour and half, once your panel starts.

4:30 PM: Brannon Braga continues to look like he would rather have his teeth pulled then be on this panel. While the other showrunners find ways to jump in on some of the questions not addressed to them (or nearly all of the questions, in the case of Harmon and Hirsch), Braga just stares awkwardly into the crowd, searching for an escape route out of this Hell. Meanwhile, the questions are opened up to the audience, aka the point in every panel when things take a dark turn. I’m expecting the questions to be for either Harmon or Hirsch, so it is surprising that the first two questions are for Adam Goldberg, the creator of The Goldbergs. More surprisingly, they are decent questions.

Be happy Brannon Braga! People like your show too.

Be happy Brannon Braga! People like your show too.

4:38 PM: Annnnnd the two people that were conversing beforehand in the question line ruin it. See, most of the time the questions themselves are at least decent during these panels, but what kills it are those people who can’t resist making the question about themselves. These two are no different. Both make sure to offer unnecessary humblebrags about how awesome they are before asking something about how to make it in the industry. Sometimes I feel the need to just scream at these people that this Q&A is not about them, and no one cares if they wrote a screenplay with Lee Daniels or are a content creator. Also, once your question is asked, please just stop talking. Thanking the panelists for their answers is one thing. Continually talking with the panelists the entire time they are answering the questions is another, and awful, thing. To be fair, these panelists take it all stride and are very respectful, even when they shouldn’t be. Plus Dan Harmon told me I need an agent in order to succeed in the movie industry, so clearly I needed to hear the answer to these questions. (If you can’t tell, I am rolling my eyes so much they have left my head.)

4:47 PM: The panel is over, and it was awesome—a definite treat. Plus Alex Hirsch gave the audience prints of an awesome poster that was previously only obtainable through special circumstances at last year’s SDCC, so a win for all. I give my poster to a friend to hold onto, as she can keep all of them rolled up much more safely than I can carrying it on my own. Then I head off to the Falling Skies panel, bidding farewell to my friends for now, as I’m the only fan of this show in the group. After a quick rush to the waiting room, I get sorted into a line for what should be a short wait.

5:00 PM: Into the room I go for the Falling Skies panel. I have been able to go to a WonderCon or SDCC panel for Falling Skies almost every year the show has been on. The panels are always fun, and I will always have a soft spot for this show because its panel at SDCC 2013 helped soothe my salty, salty soul after sitting outside Hall H for hours and still failing to get into the Game of Thrones panel. This, of course, is one of the last panels, as this summer will be the final season of Falling Skies, so it’s bittersweet. Doug Jones, Sarah Carter, Drew Roy and for the first time (at least for me) Colin Cunningham come out to speak about the final season. It is quickly clear that Cunningham is quite the joker. He barely takes anything seriously, which makes a lot of sense considering his character on the show.

One more time!

One more time!

5:10 PM: The preview footage is coming, and this upcoming season definitely looks to be awesome. The actors talk a lot about how different it was to shoot what they knew to be the final season of the show. The rapport between Doug Jones and Colin Cunningham is amazing.


What a pair!

5:25 PM: The tricky thing about panels dealing with the final season of a show is that virtually anything someone says about the show can be a spoiler. The actors seem to be somewhat struggling with this and I slowly find myself getting minor bits of information that leave me knowing just a bit more than I would like to. This annoys me slightly, but there is nothing that can really be done about it, and the actors have gotten me sufficiently pumped for the upcoming season, so it works. It seems that this season will allow a lot of the cast to work with people they have rarely worked with before, which should add some freshness to a show that is about to end its run–as will the fact that a new creative team is in place. I am reminded that Falling Skies‘ crazy schedule often means that the showrunner and writing staff change between seasons. Because it’s such a special effects-heavy show, prep work has to start so far in advance for each season that the previous season hasn’t finished shooting yet. Sometimes this means the show’s writing lacks consistency, but the fact that the show works as well as it does is quite an accomplishment and a credit to the cast and crew.

These two are pros at this by this point.

These two are pros at this by this point.

5:40 PM: Time for audience Q&A, and I have to say it is actually pretty good for once. Part of this is due to the moderator springboarding off the audience questions into other discussions, which of course leads to more pseudo-spoilers, but also fun information. More importantly, it really allows the panelists to banter with each other, which is not always the case with this kind of panel. It’s fun to hear about the practical jokes Drew Roy plays on Doug Jones, and even more fun listening to everyone’s modest plans for after the show–modest, that is, except for Doug Jones’, who reveals he will be starring in everything awesome in the near future–namely both Arrow and The Flash. Overall, I am very pleased with this panel, and if I am unable to make the SDCC panel for Falling Skies this year, this panel will be a fine sendoff to a show that I have really enjoyed over the years.

5:55 PM: I try to move up to get a better seat for the Orphan Black panel. It is not working. I keep being too late for seats. I see a potential seat, but need to ask a person if it is open. Before I can, someone else simply moves right past me, and sits down without asking. Clearly I should have just been rude… The seats continue to fill, so finally I retreat back towards the back, grabbing an aisle seat in a different part of the room roughly the same distance away as my previous spot. I’m annoyed at my failure, but no seat is truly bad in this room, so the my impact on my panel experience will be minimal.

You were missed Tatiana.

You were missed, Tatiana.

6:00 PM: Graeme Manson and virtually the entire non-clone cast walk out as a very very energetic moderator introduces them. My very tired mind and body find her peppiness to be quite obnoxious. Seriously, I get it, you really like the show, you’re a great fan. Doesn’t mean you have to be so happy about it (some of you may think this is because I’m tired, but I generally dislike extreme peppiness so I don’t think it would have mattered that much)! Still, watching Tatiana Maslany’s video apology for not being able to make WonderCon is somewhat calming. It also pleases me to be reminded that both Maslany and Jordan Gavaris are American, reversing the trend of British actresses and actors being cast as Americans.

You're the best Jordan!

You’re the best, Jordan!

6:15 PM: There have already been two preview videos. In fact, I get the sense that I may watch a significant chunk of the Season 3 premiere at this panel. Of course, out of respect to Graeme Manson, who pleaded with the audience to not reveal anything we saw, I will speak no more about these clips. I’ll just say the new season should be fun.

6:25 PM: How is Dylan Bruce so charming in real life? His character, Paul, is like a charismatic black hole in the show, yet Bruce is engaging, self-aware, and hilarious. How does this not translate to the screen in any real way? I find this almost as distracting as Brannon Braga’s clear desire to leave the showrunner panel.

Seriously, where is this charisma in the show Dylan?

Seriously, where is this charisma in the show, Dylan?

6:35 PM: Kristian Bruun’s Donnie has also been under-served on the show, but Donnie started coming up strong at the end of Season 2. Seeing Bruun on the panel really shows what a strong presence he will be on the show going forward (as does another source that shall not be named).

Kristian this season should be so much fun for you, and Graeme I am glad you finally get to talk.

Kristian, this season should be so much fun for you! Graeme, I am glad you finally get to talk.

6:45 PM: I realize that it will be hard to write about this panel because it spoils the entire show, so… instead I will just talk about the cool button swag I am being given. There are probably a couple of different versions, but mine features Sara, Cosima, and the tag line for Season 3 for the clones—a nice piece of swag to end the show. Oh, the Q&A is going okay. None of the questions are that cringe worthy, which makes two panels in a row. It’s a WonderCon miracle.

Buttons galore!

Buttons galore!

6:53 PM: I leave the panel and head out onto the floor for another super quick walk around. Then I try and decide if I want to do any other panels… like Streetpassing 101. My body is then like, “I swear to god, I will just shut down on you completely,” so it looks like it is time to head home.

A unicorn pic for the road.

A unicorn pic for the road.

7:10 PM: My 5k group has already left so instead I head off to meet my roommate and get a ride back to my car. I am met with a surprise. Apparently after I parted from everyone else to go to the Falling Skies panel, they were able to find a group anxiously waiting for Alex Hirsch to exit from the showrunners panel, where Hirsch eventually emerged to sign things! So my Gravity Falls poster was able to get a personalized autograph, which has me super stoked.


Woe be to the one that gets between me and my signed Gravity Falls poster.

Now, you may be asking what would have happened if I hadn’t given my poster to my friends to hold onto, and they had all gotten their posters autographed without me. Well, let’s just say it would have ended poorly for everyone, and probably involved fire. Instead, I take my autograph poster to the car.

A somewhat ironic last image of Wondercon as I bid it goodbye.

A somewhat ironic last image of WonderCon as I bid it goodbye.

7:45 PM: This car ride is so relaxing… I’m just gonna rest my eyes… just gonna…

8:15 PM: Get yelled at to wake up and explain where my car is. Giving directions is annoying.

8:35 PM: I am dropped off at my car, and it is time to drive home.

8:55 PM: Oh dear lord thank you, home sweet home.

9:10 PM: I lie down, and prepare to reflect upon my day as I….zzzzzz

9:11 PM: There is only sweet sweet sleep. My 5k WonderCon day is complete. ZZZZZZZZ….