Conventions (or "cons") have been a staple of the fanboy scene for ages, from generic sci-fi cons to Star Trek cons to cons that celebrate anime and computer games. It seems that no matter what kind of geek you are, someone's always trying to get you to creep out into direct sunlight and share your passion, at least for a few hours.
But there are those who take the concept to a whole new, frightening level:
Everyone and their reclusive, social misfit of an uncle knows about Star Trek conventions. They pretty much created the entire specialized convention oeuvre, which until then had been dominated by indistinct supernerd sci-fi cons that didn't distinguish between shows, forcing Dr. Who fans to mingle with Lost in Space fans to the awkward discomfort of all.
Now the con scene has grown to the point that there is a whole buffet of Star Trek conventions, such as the Klingon Feast.
The feasts feature Klingon poetry, Klingon music, Klingon weapons, Klingon humor and Klingon-looking food prepared by the chefs at the Marriott who were probably never taught the recipe Vulcan vegetable surprise or Tarvokian pound cake in culinary school.
This year's convention features Klingon games of skill with all your old favorites like Klinzhai Hold'em, Feqlar's Choice and Eyes of Kahless. Think that's all gibberish? Well maybe you're not cut out to spend a weekend with ridges glued to your forehead. And you're certainly not ready to see these four ladies perform Lady Marmalade. In Klingon.
Imagine the thrill of being a super-hardcore Star Trek fan and actually getting to go on an incredible adventure with Leonard Nimoy for an entire week in some exotic locale. Now imagine an adjective to describe what happens if you replace Star Trek with the original Battlestar Galactica, Leonard Nimoy with Richard "Apollo" Hatch and exotic locale with a boat in freezing cold Alaska. We challenged a few Cracked interns and the adjective they came up with was "shitastic."
On the Richard Hatch cruise, out at sea so you can't get away if you have second thoughts, Battlestar fans get to experience a "Heart to Heart with Richard Hatch Q & A" as well as a two-part seminar on "the art of creating more successful and fulfilling lives and relationships." And who better to teach a boatload of fans of mediocre sci-fi and terrible special effects about having fulfilling lives than Captain Apollo.
Surprisingly enough, based on testimonials, a week of being stranded at sea with Richard Hatch is apparently a life-changing experience. Past cruise goers have said things like, "His workshops helped me to deal with some serious issues in my life. With his support, and that of my fellow cruise mates, I am now healing," which makes us suspect that Captain Apollo might be starting a cult.
It's hard to rank conventions according to some sort of sadness hierarchy. What makes Star Wars more deserving of a gathering than say, Blake's 7? These are the sorts of questions nerd scholars write dissertations on. But nerd academia is pretty much in agreement that a convention focused solely on the mid-'90s Disney cartoon Gargoyles, a show that hasn't been produced since 1996, ranks down near Harry and the Hendersons and Manimal as TV shows not deserving of their own convention, or even a mention in casual conversation at other legitimate geek conventions.
The annual Gathering of the Gargoyles convention includes a radio play (in which fans have to audition to read a Gargoyles script, which will be performed as a major con event later on), an art show, dinner and trivia. It culminates in a masquerade and dance, because no real con is complete until someone has dressed up like a fictional character and thrust around the dance floor to some Miley Cyrus music.
For those who like a more immersing experience, there is cosplay, which involves not only dressing up, but dressing up and playing pretend. As it should be obvious that dressing up like a Disney cartoon in front of strangers is dangerous, there are clear rules on the website for cosplay, including things like "Do not jump, backflip, handspring or otherwise hurl yourself bodily during your skit. Do not hurl anyone else bodily during your skit, either," which indicates past cosplay experiences have apparently been savage affairs with much bodily hurling.
Also noteworthy is that "genitalia and breasts must be covered," which is pretty much a good rule of thumb for any sci-fi con, and yet another indication that past Gathering of the Gargoyles probably ended with one or two participants getting a traumatizing eyeful of gargoyle scrotum.
Wikipedia tells us that Anthrocon is the world's largest furry convention. Which implies there are others. Indeed, what you thought was a curious fetish among a few lonely 14-year-olds who watch a lot of anime, in fact has enough of a fan base to necessitate conventions.
Anthrocon has taken place every year since 1997 and gets about 2,500 attendees, all of whom we assume want to f**k giant, talking squirrels. The point of the convention is to gather in a hotel and enjoy anthropomorphic animals to a greater or lesser degree of creepiness as appeals to the individual. The fact that the convention involves furry Twister does little to endear the event to those of us who never wanted to make out with Bugs Bunny, however.
As something of a positive, the convention raises money for animal charities, so it's not all rippling fox thighs and off-putting social rejects comparing their sketch books while debating about whether or not a centaur would have both human and equine genitalia.
While a convention dedicated to zebras would potentially straddle the fence between awesome and the most ridiculously boring thing ever, the deceptively named ZebraCon is actually something far more nefarious than a bunch of fans of striped horses hanging out together.
Zebracon is actually a slash convention, "slash" being homoerotic stories using characters from pop culture. It was originally just focused on Starsky and Hutch, whose car had the call sign of Zebra 3, giving the current misleading name the slight edge over "The Starsky and Hutch f**k Fiction Convention."
Like all cons, ZebraCon found a way to mix the mundane activities of nerd life with its somewhat off-putting subject matter. Attendees could sit around and watch the unaired Heroes pilot, play Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots and presumably discuss the subtle intricacies of what manner of gay trysts would occur if the Stargate and Star Trek universes somehow crossed.
At some point there's also huddling around computers as convention goers show off homemade music videos, like this, containing mostly spliced scenes of two men who happen to be in frame together, shown in such a way as to imply they're about to make love.
No, we can't account for all the shots of Mulder and Scully, them not being two dudes and all, we figure the geek factor of the X-Files made it acceptable for whoever made the video.
Few conventions really manage to get past the surface nerd image of science fiction and fantasy and delve deep into the horrors that all sci-fi and fantasy nerd stereotypes are born from. But the Ohio Valley Filk Fest dares to tread those murky waters and it does so with a musical backdrop.
If you've ever been outside in sunlight within the last five years and/or don't spend more time talking to your cats than to other humans, you may not be familiar with filk. Filk is a kind of folk music with a sci-fi or fantasy theme that can also branch into related fields like computers or, as Wikipedia tells us with no explanation for how this relates, cats.
However, our research team looked into it and, wouldn't you know, we found evidence of LOLcats. Computers, cats and amateur folk music together? Saints be praised!
The Filk fest, aside from probably being the world's biggest source of songs about Buck Rogers, also has workshops, songwriting competitions and open-filking which sounds like something you're apt to see in a special niche of Euro porn.
If none of that is to your liking, this year there's also a concert by special guest performer Moonwulf. Yes, the Moonwulf!
The defining characteristic of a good internet meme is the word "internet." They come from and belong on the internet. When they escape and start getting used out in the real world, much like when the word "bling" starts getting tossed around by FOX News anchors, they become soiled, useless things devoid of charm, wit or purpose if they ever had any to begin with.
The ROFLcon convention, which seems to be part metahumor and part harrowing horror, sought to bring together every popular internet meme in one place at one time in the hopes of perhaps creating the biggest nerd salad that's ever been assembled. Guests included some of the faceless folks behind xkcd, 4chan, Leeroy Jenkins, the Tron Guy and too many people whose claim to fame include the letters lol.
Typical of any con, there were panel discussions with keynote speakers, some of which seemed like they were looking into how to turn these memes and related content into cold hard cash, which may have actually been practical. This was then stomped into the ground by the panel "LOLCATS: I CAN HAZ CASE STUDY?" which brought together no less than six human beings who have dedicated at least a portion of their lives to writing, organizing or studying captions on photos of cats. Real, actual people.
Imagine attending ROFLcon and having to go to the washroom only to find yourself at a urinal between a guy dressed like Tron and a guy who put the words "I can haz cheezburger" on a picture of a cat, both of whom are probably wealthier and more famous than you ever will be. No one's rofling now.
According to Wikipedia, 85 percent of the people who attend Yaoi-Con are heterosexual females. And you need to be over 18 to get in due to the adult nature of what goes on inside. Sounds promising all out of context like that, doesn't it?
Sadly, the harsh reality is that all those ladies are there to enjoy Yaoi anime and manga, which, like slash, is focused on man-on-man loving. You may then ask yourself why a convention about man-on-man cartoons attracts so many women and is indeed actually directed at women, but we don't have an answer. Don't have one, don't really want one.
There's the standard cosplay, dancing, a masquerade, an auction, swap meet, panel guests, art shows and it's all about gay cartoons. We're not suggesting there's no room in the world for an appreciation of homosexual doodles, but when it morphs into straight women engaging in cosplay, the execution of which must be bizarre indeed, we just can't fully understand what the hell is going on.
The con also features hentai screenings, which means it's entirely possible that there will be a room full of women, dressed as men, watching homoerotic tentacle porn together. Have fun getting that image out of your head.
A fun side note, this is the only con we managed to find that has to quote the California penal code on its website to explain why minors aren't allowed in. But we have faith that within five years, someone is going to start a con that will result in a whole new set of laws.
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