Thursday, February 18, 2010

POP CULTURE: Going to Conventions

Here is a new responsibility: You need to start attending conventions.

They happen frequently enough that you should be able to hit at least one every three months within a short distance of home. If you live in a major metro area, then you really have no excuse. Last year, when my whole nerd renaissance began, I only attended two conventions. This year, I already have one under my belt, and at least three others on the horizon, but more on that a little later.

Here's why conventions are important. Large quantities of our people assemble, and do things together. Here's something you probably know all too well. Nerds are shy. It is therefore difficult for us to meet others of our kind and form will-to-live-sustaining social relationships. But at conventions, things are different. That cute girl or guy over there? Nerd. He or she is in your league. You have things in common. You can have a conversation. You even probably have some amount of geography in common. I grant you, these revelations may not help you lower the shields and open hailing frequencies, but time and exposure will.

The first con I went to since I resolved to change my life was February 2009 New York Comic Con. My friend @nperkins and I both had new jobs and disposable income, so we decided to get VIP tickets. Worth every penny. We got to avoid lines for screenings, have our own secure coat check area and never had to wait in the giant line to get into the place. If there's a ReedPop event near you this year, get VIP tickets. You'll thank me and see me there.

Now, by my second convention of last year, I was unemployed. The economy smashed the construction industry and my job evaporated so at the last minute, I sent an email to the wonderful Kim at Reed (who I dealt with for the VIP tickets) asking if they still needed volunteers for the New York Anime Festival, which was about a week and a half away. She put me in contact with Michelle (@volunteerdenmom) and we got me on the schedule. By about halfway through the thursday setup for the show, I knew that I would probably not attend any future Reed conventions as a guest. In truth, despite my extensive background of fixing friends' computers and recommending gadgets, movies and television shows, September 2009 is when I really became a Nerd Sherpa.

The fact of my sherpitude was quickly recognized and over the next few days I struggled to learn the names of the staff folks, despite their best efforts to the contrary. (They assured me that @lsett's name was "Gus") And pretty soon, @volunteerdenmom, @crunchysunshine, @littlest_asian and @petertatara were all close friends. You too can make friends at conventions. I can even give further examples!

This past weekend, @dreadpiraterose and gave me tickets to Farpoint, a fan-run sci-fi convention in Baltimore. Since this year's guests included @feliciaday, I knew immediately that I had to take @nperkins, who introduced me to The Guild. Point is, in the 3 days of the convention, we made a handful of new friends by going to panels about things we found interesting. Specifically, @moonrangerlaura, @cmaaarrr and the aforementioned @dreadpiraterose, who I had never met before the show. It was great fun, we got our pictures taken with @feliciaday (Look how pale we both are! Nerds unite!), and we made new friends. And this can happen to you too.

My next convention adventure is PAX East, in Boston in March. (If you want to go, move fast. Tickets will 100% sell out before the day of the show.) I'm super excited for the show because a number of my Boston area friends will be there. Even if volunteering means I won't be able to super spend time with them, it will still be a huge amount of fun. Also a big deal, my friend Scott (@mrmacguffin) will be introducing his independently developed game, All Heroes Die. You should check it out.

A few weeks after PAX, Reed is flying a handful of NY Volunteers with leadership skills out to Chicago to help them whip a new team of volunteers into shape to run Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo aka C2E2. It will be my first time actually in Chicago, and my first business-type trip. No paying job has ever sent me anyplace on a plane, and here I'm volunteering for these people and they're flying me halfway across the country and putting me up in a hotel for a week.

I'll also be volunteering at NYCC 2010, this October, and you should definitely come out for it, wherever you live. The show is going to be bigger than ever before, utilizing the entire Jacob Javits Center, instead of just half like in previous years. Also notable, there will be a symphony orchestra performing the score to The Two Towers while the movie plays on a giant screen over their heads at Radio City Music Hall. If you're a nerd, New York will be the place to be October 8-10.

While reporting on every convention happening everywhere is far beyond the scope of my blog, I can safely tell you this. There are conventions near you, and probably more than one has a topic of interest to you. Use Google. Check one out. I promise you'll thank me later. @nerdsherpa


  1. So where are you staying for PAX East? We're at the Sheraton attached to the convention center. :)

    - Kelly/@dreadpiraterose

  2. Egad! I don't believe we didn't talk about this more at Farpoint! I'm volunteering, so I'll be there Thursday through Monday. I'm staying at a friend's place the whole weekend. I'm excited you kids will be there. Food must be eaten, and alcohol consumed.

  3. Also, while you're here, make sure to check out dreadpiraterose's blog! (link in her comment above) She can help you find other conventions, and she's got an in-depth interview with Felicia Day.