Tag Archives: mia con

Mia’s Con Blog, KuroNekoCon

In case you missed it (and I don’t know how you could have when we mentioned it daily for a few months) last weekend was KuroNekoCon, Spokane’s very own anime convention. For two days anime, gaming, fantasy, comic book, and sci fi fans converged on the Spokane Convention Center to hang out, buy stuff, wear costumes, attend panels, and dance the night away. It was a swell time with swell people and I was there, because of course – Mia and conventions go together like honey mustard and just about everything (trust me on this one).

This was my very first year at KuroNekoCon and I was excited to see what a smaller anime convention had to offer. Sakuracon was already pulling in 20,000+ people by the time I attended at first so I never knew what it was like in its smaller days. There is certainly a lot to be said for a convention with hundreds of attendees versus thousands of attendees (I’m not really sure on the numbers for that, it just seemed like hundreds of people to me). I could walk through halls without squishing past a bunch of other people. There were no lines to go up and down stairs, there was breathing room in panels, and fighting to look at items in the vendors’ hall wasn’t necessary.

It was nice. Small but nice. Intimate in a way that a larger con can’t quite manage anymore. Fox 28 was the official TV sponsor of the convention and we got our own booth in the vendors’ hall where we gave away posters, raffled off goodies, and showed episodes of The Simpsons for fans and passersby. It was fun to chat with people about our programming, which shows were their favorites, which shows they missed from our line-up (oh Almost Human, we still all miss you SO MUCH), and which shows they were excited to see coming up this Fall. Posters for Bones, House, How I Met Your Mother, and Animation Domination were snatched up like they were going out of style. And dozens of people showed up for the raffle drawing Sunday evening. It was pretty cool.

I attended a voice actor panel on Sunday with actress Natalie Hoover presiding. She was pretty dang adorable. She came bouncing in the door and immediately wanted to show us all the charms she’d bought in the vendors’ hall. Then she launched into an interesting hour of talk about her own experience in the voice acting business, her tips and recommendations for breaking into the business ourselves (if we were so inclined), and why she loves being a voice actor. I don’t have any interest in doing voice overs myself (and my vocal range is nothing to write home about) but it was cool to listen to an insider’s view of the industry and what it’s like to be a part of it.

There were some other panels I saw on the schedule that might have been cool to check out, but I really spent most of my time down in the vendors’ hall at the Fox 28 booth or wandering around looking at awesome stuff I forced myself not to buy (though I did scoop up some Mario Kart inspired keychains for myself and the tiny/tall roommate because they were super cute AND I like to support independent artists). I also hung out a bit at the Blackwolf Gaming Center booth with the owner of that fine establishment. She’s a greatly entertaining lady who shares my love of exotic pets, tattoos, and pondering the appropriateness of spandex body suits. If you’re into gaming you should probably check out her business in Spokane Valley. Just saying.

All in all I had a pretty good time at KuroNekoCon. I chatted with con staff about their thoughts on the convention, how it was going, where they saw it headed in the next few years, and why they volunteered to be a part of it. I chatted with Fox 28 viewers about programming, with gamers about being immersed in anime culture, with parents who were there with their kids and had no idea what was going on, and with kids who were excited to be surrounded by fellow fans. It may not have been quite the whirlwind weekend I’ve experienced at bigger, longer conventions, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it even a little bit.

And it was fun to be dressed up in a popular cosplay costume. I attended as Louise from Bob’s Burgers (seemed fitting with the whole Fox connection) and had people stopping to talk to me, snap my picture, and tell me how much they enjoyed the show. A cosplay win like that totally makes it all worth it.


Mia’s Con Blog, Sakuracon Day 3

It’s the last day of the convention and I’m already feeling sad. Last days just bum me out.

Things are slow-going around the hotel room. We laze about a bit, watching TV and packing our bags and getting ready to check out. It just isn’t as much fun as arrival was. There is a line for the elevator. A line for the check out desk. A line to get down to the parking garage. I’d probably be feeling grouchy about all the lines if I wasn’t already kind of tired and depressed.

We eventually head over for a last hour or so at the convention center. We can’t stay long as we’ve got hours of driving ahead of us and work to prepare for in the morning.

Dang work, ruining our fun.

I stop by the Art Show room to pick up the picture I won from the auction. Technically I’m not supposed to get it until 1pm but they let me in anyway. I also take a last turn through the vendors’ hall, grabbing some Pocky to snack on (if you don’t know what Pocky is you are really missing out) and a few more business cards so I can buy more art later on.

Though the convention center is still pretty busy, there are a lot fewer people in costumes running about today. Maybe even the hardcore attendees are feeling a bit run down on this last day of Sakuracon.

Soon it’s time to say goodbye to friends, Seattle, and event craziness. I leave the convention center one last time with, I’ll admit, a bit of drag to my step. I pack myself into the car with my con buddies, ready to trek on home.

I wear my convention badge just a little bit longer than necessary, even after leaving the sight of Seattle behind in the rear view mirror. I want to retain the excitement of the weekend just a little bit longer I guess.

Don’t judge me.

So long Sakuracon. Thanks for a fabulous weekend and I’ll see you next year!


*In addendum – Tasty Eats from Seattle:
Panera Bread – I really need to just give in and get a frequent buyer’s card from this place as I’m eating there every time I’m in Seattle; the cheddar broccoli soup and Frontego chicken panini are just as good as I remember

Mia’s Con Blog, Sakuracon Day 2

I think I’m finally getting the hang of this ‘sleeping in’ business. It is delightful. I manage to sleep until at least 9:30am. Eventually I get up and ready for the day. I don’t have any specific panels in mind to see yet but there is shopping to be done in the vendors’ hall.

After breakfast and some running around in the rain, my con buddies and I finally make it to the convention center. It is quite a bit busier than Friday, yet still not to the level that Emerald City Comicon managed. I’m okay with that.

Our first stop is the Art Show, where original pieces are up for sale and auction. I bid on a tiny mash-up picture of Sailor Moon and Adventure Time. I also buy some postcards because they are adorable and I’m all about supporting independent artists. There are a couple of pictures I wish I had seen on Friday as they are already purchased. Bummer.

After the Art Show we head to the vendor area and I’m delighted to find a booth selling prints of the pictures that I couldn’t buy in the Art Show. One of my buddies finds a picture of President Taft in a bathtub perched atop a dinosaur. He can’t stop giggling about it for the rest of the weekend.

We wander amidst the aisles for a while, looking at artwork, picking up business cards, and buying prints. If I had all the time and money in the world I’d probably purchase everything I see. The artwork is just that good.

Eventually we leave the vendors’ hall with our hands full and our wallets not so much. We head to the AMV (anime music video) screening room to see some comedy videos. The audio is incredibly loud and not all of the AMVs are particularly funny, but it isn’t a bad way to spend an hour. Later we head outside to the garden area of the convention center. It’s chilly but has stopped raining and the place is bustling with activity.

Cosplayers are hanging out, smoking cigarettes and chatting with each other and posing for pictures. In the largest area of the garden a giant ring of people surrounds a smaller group who are happily kicking plastic bottles around. After they kick, they follow the direction the bottle is pointing and run over to hug whoever in the giant ring it is pointing at. That person than runs into the middle to kick at bottles and the game continues. I’ve seen this game played every year but I’ve never joined it. It’s fun to watch all the players laugh and yell and skip about and hug each other though.

Once the sun goes down it gets too cool in the garden so we head back inside to attend a voice actor panel. First we sneak into a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic panel, just to see what the hullaballoo is all about. There is a lot of singing and people in bright costumes and more singing and contests and – you guessed it – more singing. We last about ten minutes and then bail.

At the voice actor panel, all of the attending stars are there to read an original audio ‘play’ and give us a great idea of what it is like for them to do their job. Of course with so many on stage at once, sharing microphones and performing dual roles in some cases, a bit of chaos happens. It is delightful though.

We intend to attend another fanfic panel after midnight but it never happens. We head back to the hotel room for some drinks and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, and end up passing out early. It really does seem like we are getting too old for late night adventures.

*In addendum – Tasty Eats from Seattle:
Specialty’s Bakery – found them right across from the hotel when searching for breakfast; had myself a giant breakfast sandwich with egg and cheddar on a ciabatta roll; unfortunately for my fellow eater their breakfast fruit cup was mostly melon, which neither of us are fond of
Umi Sake House – incredibly tasty sushi in a very interesting setting (the bathrooms are hidden behind a secret door built as part of a wall); I had a sake cocktail with lemon that was excellent, along with a Dragon roll that was extremely good

Mia’s Con Blog, Sakuracon Day 1

My con buddies and I get to the convention center before 10am. There are people wandering around already but only a few dozen. At least a third of them are in costume.

The first event of the day is the opening ceremonies. They’ve upgraded since last year and included multiple large TV screens so even those in the back of the room can see what’s happening on stage. I’m sitting toward the middle.

Taiko drumming, Kabuki players, greetings from special guests freshly arrived from Japan, and a rousing bit of karaoke with full audience participation kicks-off this year’s Sakuracon – the largest anime convention in the Pacific Northwest.

I get a little teary-eyed when the Consulate General of Japan comes on stage in traditional dress. Don’t ask me why. Happens every year.

After opening ceremonies I go walkabout. I can’t help but notice how different the space looks for this convention than it did for Emerald City Comicon a few weeks ago. There are less people shoving through the hallways and squashing themselves on to escalators. The rooms have been downsized to accommodate more and smaller panels. And the exhibition hall has been condensed into one big space instead of multiple giant spaces.

I spend some time in the vendor area, looking at rare animation cells (no one has $600 on them to loan me to take one home), original artwork, costumes and costume accessories (so many wigs!), board games and expansion packs, and action figures, models, and Japanese snacks. I buy very little. I still have two days after this one to blow all my money after all.

I attend two panels, neither with celebrities. Sakuracon has way more “fan panels” created by and for fans than celebrity sessions. A group of cosplayers led by Zapp Brannigan (Futurama) and including Home Simpson, Johnny Bravo, and Jamie Lannister (Game of Thrones) does their version of ‘Loveline.’ It is sometimes funny, sometimes awkward, and sometimes really bizarre.

Later some ladies read aloud the absolute worse fanfiction they can find. I’ve attended this panel the last four years in a row and never left before laughing until I cried. My only complaint is that it happens so late at night (12:30am this time around) because it is a ‘mature’ rated panel. As I get older staying up so late isn’t as easy as it used to be.

I’m not terribly surprised that as soon as the fanfic panels ends I’m back at the hotel and crawling into bed.

*In addendum – Tasty Eats from Seattle:
Pike Brewing Company – I think I have a problem, and it’s my addiction to the pulled pork sandwich at this brewery (so yummy!)
Ohana Tiki Bar – we ended up here because the place we were actually headed was closed, but it was not a waste of our time at all; had a giant mai tai (complete with festive umbrella!) and a sushi roll I can’t recall the name of but it was full of fish and crab and lightly fried and very tasty, also their gyoza were superb and the decor was delightfully over the top
Benihana – it was one of my friend’s birthdays so we dressed up a bit and headed to the Seattle Benihana location; it was loud and busy but fun and my Teriyaki chicken was tasty

Mia’s Con Blog, Emerald City Comicon Day 3

I wake up early again. It’s the last day of the con and I’m already a little sad. I head over to the convention center for another early voice actor panel. This time they act out scenes from a variety of movies (Pulp Fiction and Princess Bride for the win). It is hilarious. I could listen to them read lines in funny voices all day.

After the panel I wander off through the exhibition hall. I expect it to be less busy since it is Sunday but I am wrong on that point. It’s a crush trying to get through the vendor space. I consider getting my picture taken in a full size TARDIS but the line is too long. I almost drop 50 bucks on a Ghost in the Shell action figure (they’re rare collector’s items after all!) but manage to maintain a bit of self control.

My con-buddy and I stop by the Transolar Galactica booth to say “hi.” I won’t go in to how long it takes to even find their booth first. I really need to learn how to read a map. We chat for a bit and mention how great we thought their screening was the day before.

At one point we randomly run into my tiny/tall gal pal and her con-buddy. In the two and a half days we’ve all been running around the convention center we’ve never managed to just bump into each other. It makes me laugh.

I stop at the Espionage Cosmetics booth to meet Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton, mothers of the VandalEyes movement. They are delightful and sign a pair of giant google eyes I’ve brought with me for just such a moment. I also discuss nail wraps with one of the Espionage Cosmetics ladies. I love them but can never get them on my nails right. She gives me tips. I doubt they will help. Worst girl ever.

It takes a while but eventually I also find the Camilla d’Ericco booth. I fell in love with her artwork the first time I saw it about eight years ago online and it has been a love that has lasted ever since. There is often a booth selling her work at Sakuracon, but I’ve never gotten to actually meet her before. She, like the lovely VandalEyes ladies, is delightful. I buy her special convention print and talk to her about a piece she painted that I want as a tattoo. She offers her email address and tells me she’ll send a high quality digital copy of the piece. It is an awesome moment.

After that my con-buddy and I decide we’re about done. We have to check out of the hotel by 3pm anyway and so it’s time to wrap things up. It has been a crazy, busy, intense, hilarious, overwhelming, amazing weekend. I’ve seen celebrities and artists and writers and cosplayers and more. I’ve wandered up and down stairs, waiting in lines for escalators, followed arrows made of tape on the floor, and pushed my way through epic crowds.

I’ve loved pretty much every moment of it. I already can’t wait for Emerald City Comicon 2015.

*In addendum – Tasty Eats from Seattle:
Panera Bread: (Issaquah) tried mac and cheese and a half sandwich; just as tasty as all previous meals with them – seriously why don’t we have a Panera in Spokane?

Mia’s Con Blog, Emerald City Comicon Day 2

I set my alarm for 9am. I’m awake by 8. I hate my brain.

I want to attend a panel at 10:30 so I do my best to get showered, dressed, and out the door by a little after 10. I expect Saturday to be much busier than Friday. I am not disappointed. The first panel of the day in the main hall contains the entire roster of attending voice actors reading scenes from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. There is already a line waiting to get in the room when I arrive.

The panel is worth the wait in the line and the seats near the back of the room. Nancy Cartwright does Princess Leia in Bart Simpson’s voice. Bill Farmer gives us Darth Vader in a Snagglepuss drawl. Bill Salyers narrates as Rigby from The Regular Show. And I’m not sure what Andrea Libman is reading in Pinkie Pie’s voice (from My Little Pony) but it is so fast and high-pitched that I’m wondering if she was inhaling helium before the show.

After the panel my con buddy and I head down to the screening room for a showing of Transolar Galactica’s Origin episodes. Friday we tried to find the screening room with no luck, but after perusing the map for over an hour the night before I think I’ve finally figured out where it is. Several escalators, two sets of stairs, four floors, and a several thousand people later we manage to find it.

Transolar is made right here in good ol’ Spokane. It’s a fun mash-up of dozens of science fiction movies and shows and stereotypes. After a successful Kickstarter campaign to make a second season they’ve been on the road showing off all the swanky new things they can do with some financial backing going for them. The screening is great, the episodes look slick and professional, and I’d give the guys behind the series some high fives if I was into that kind of thing.

The next panel features Alan Tudyk of Firefly/Serenity and Dollhouse fame (he was in more stuff of course but I work for a Fox affiliate PLUS I was a huge Firefly fan, so I’m name-checking those shows). He is absolutely delightful. For every person that gets up the nerve to ask him a question in front of thousands of other fans, he pulls a random item out of a satchel and autographs it for them. Some get receipts, others get game demos, one person gets a half eaten bag of salty nuts. The last person to get up and ask a question is an adorable kid in a Wash costume who just wants to play dinosaurs with his hero. We all melt from the cuteness and cheer like crazy when he does.

After a trip around the model exhibit and past the Lego exhibit we attend another screening, this time for Manos: Hands of Felt. I helped Kickstart this project so am eager to see the final product. Watching one of the worst films ever made redone with the addition of puppets is totally worth however much I threw in on the Kickstarter (no particular recollection of how much that was and too lazy to look it up right now).

Back up to the main hall after Manos to see the second half of John de Lancie. He tells a funny story about being naked on the bridge of the Enterprise (Star Trek The Next Generation version) and an even funnier story about his secret trick for acting lovestruck in The Thorn Birds. After he is finished talking I sneak up as many rows as possible to get good seats for the next panel guest – Karl Urban.

Karl Urban makes jokes about tequila. He strolls around the stage in his leather jacket and speaks with his New Zealand accent and is absolutely, hysterically funny. He talks about Dredd and Almost Human and Lord of the Rings, and then tells about some epic pranks both Simon Pegg and Viggo Mortenson played on him while filming projects. I kind of want to run up and steal him and take him home with me. I doubt I’m the only one in the audience with this in mind.

Day two of the con definitely ends on a high note. I find out later on that while I was running around doing panels and screenings, my tiny/tall gal pal was getting autographs from Bill Salyers (voice actor from Mass Effect among other things), meeting Michael Dorn (Worf of Star Trek The Next Generation), and running into John de Lancie in the hallway. Turns out she had a pretty epic second day at the con as well.

*In addendum – Tasty Eats from Seattle:
Elephant and Castle: lunch Saturday afternoon; another place I stop at every time I’m in Seattle, very tasty curry chicken flatbread … thing
Dragonfish Asian Cafe: dinner Saturday night; amazing sushi as well as very tasty drinks, shared the Dragonfish roll (with unagi and tempura shrimp) as well as chicken potstickers and Dragon noodles, also had a frothy daquirie and a lemon-y something or other to drink

Mia’s Con Blog, Emerald City Comicon Day 1

I wake up at 6am. No one else in my group does. I spend the next four hours sighing dramatically, trying to fall back to sleep, playing on my phone, texting my sister who is having surgery this morning, and texting my mother because my sister is having surgery this morning.

Eventually there is movement from my fellow convention goers. Yay.

The con starts at 10am. We get there by noon. There is already a ridiculous amount of people swarming around the convention center doors. A man on one corner is yelling out that he has tickets to sell to this sold out event. On another corner a man is asking everyone that passes by if they have tickets to sell. Obviously these two men need to meet.

Inside is chaos, but it seems to be controlled chaos. People are EVERYWHERE. Riding up and down escalators, sitting at tables, running across the lobby to hug people they haven’t seen since the last con a year ago.

A Master Chief (from Halo) is posing on the first set of stairs as five different people take his picture. Over by the information booth a pair of Eva pilots (from Neon Genesis Evangelion) are arguing over something in their con program guide.

It’s an epic first few moments.

I spend the rest of the first day exclaiming excitedly over artwork in the exhibition hall, traveling up and down stairs and escalators looking for a screening room that refuses to be found, taking pictures of awesome costumes, standing in line for panels, and getting angry at my phone because it refuses to work properly in the convention center.

I also am there to witness Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura!) assist a man in proposing to his girlfriend. She is absolutely stunning and totally gracious and simply wonderful. She talks about Star Trek and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Neil deGrasse Tyson and the space program and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. I clap a lot during her panel.

I attend a panel with Kenichi Sonada (creator of Gunsmith Cats) and delight in how polite and soft spoken and quietly humorous his stories are. I kind of want to put him in my pocket and run off with him; similar to how I felt after seeing the director and art director of Vampire Hunter D a couple of years ago at a different convention.

I sneak into the second half Richard Dean Anderson’s panel, just in time to witness how jovial and charismatic he is. He says “I don’t know” several times in such a perfect Colonel Jack O’Neill (Stargate) tone of voice that I can’t help but laugh. Two guys dressed as Jack and Daniel from the show are sitting a few rows ahead of me. They look awesome and laugh at everything.

By the time the day is over I am exhausted and mentally overwhelmed and ready for some quiet time to process (that doesn’t exactly happen, FYI).

Friday ends with drinks, snacks, and Cards Against Humanity back at the hotel room. I won’t sully anyone’s innocent minds with some of the epic combinations that are played, but just leave you with the assurance that they are hilarious and, in some cases, incredibly disgusting. I am impressed by the mental levels my friends can sink to.

It has been an epic first day. I’m excited to see what Day 2 has in store for me.

*In addendum – Tasty Eats from Seattle:
Westin Lobby Bar: drinks Thursday evening; pricey but good – had something called a True Blood which was strong but also tasty
Pike Brewing Company: dinner Thursday night; excellent pulled pork sandwich (as always), also a tasty margarita-like beverage can’t quite remember the name of
PF Chang’s: lunch Friday afternoon; the sauce on their broccoli beef is amazing; the rice was pretty good as well
Panera Bread: dinner Friday night; why don’t we have one of these here in Spokane? why? had half a chicken panini and bowl of cheddar broccoli soup – they were delicious