Panelist: Props and Sh*t
Masquerade: Performance Judge
Sketch, Shiva (x2), Steve, Shiva (x2)
PortCon Maine is New England's oldest anime and gaming convention, held annually in South Portland, Maine. PortCon Maine celebrated its tenth anniversary by changing the event from an exclusively anime/gaming convention into a multi-genre convention. Programming was expanded to include science fiction, fantasy, comics, pop culture, and everything in between. The move did not come as a surprise; the convention has always welcomed variety. It's masquerade, for example, has always allowed characters from any genre and has even encouraged originally designed costumes. To reflect the official switch, guests included comic magician Brian Brushwood in addition to voice actors Chris Ayres, J. Michael Tatum, and Daniel Kevin Harrison. Panels covered topics ranging from Doctor Who to podcast broadcasting to the personality archetypes represented in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and the main events tent was decorated with a large model of The Enterprise and a full-size replica TARDIS. Other events included the boffing tournament, Anime Unscripted, and Extreme Geek. Rainy weather crowded the small indoor areas of the con for the majority of the weekend, however the tent had much better ventilation and avoided the overwhelming damp stank of 2009's washout weekend. 2011 continued PortCon's tradition of expertly running a small con as if it were large, allowing it to maintain a well-organized, friendly, event-filled, and overall professionally-run feel.
Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
Sketch and I arrived at PortCon around 9PM Thursday night in the pouring rain with the TARDIS strapped to our.car. After checking into the Wyndham and dropping our things in our room, we drove around to the back lot and unloaded the TARDIS in the main events tent with the help of Doug, PatrickD, several staffers, and a crowd of gawkers. It took about two hours to get everything in the tent and put together, but when it was finished the TARDIS looked great; she’d been re-wired so that the lights blinked in time to the sounds and the antique phone Shiva had given Sketch for Christmas last year made its convention debut after it was installed as the TARDIS phone. By midnight the rain had started to pour into the tent, but luckily the base of the TARDIS is raised onto caster wheels so it didn’t get wet. Damp and exhausted, we thanked everyone for their help and returned to the room; we had decided to splurge on our own hotel room for this con and were especially grateful for that decision as we crashed hard.
Friday morning we got up early to get our badges and check our things into the garage sale. The dealer’s room opened at 10am and we were there by 9:40, but every item needed to be individually examined and price checked which was taking forever. Sketch had over 300 items alone and there was a line ahead of us, so by the time we got out of there it was almost 11. We grabbed a late breakfast before changing into our Captain Mal and Cheshire Cat costumes and heading to main events to check on the TARDIS. It was still raining but the police box was staying pretty dry. Unfortunately the rain meant the boffing tournament was also inside the tent, which was loud and distracting to the other panels running inside main events. While we were there, Ellystar was trying valiantly to run her panel at the other end of the tent and make herself heard over the ruckus, but it was clearly a struggle.
That afternoon we hit up Sketch’s panel, “Props and Sh*t.” The room was packed, Sketch gave one of his best talks, and the attendees were really engaged and asked great questions. The only downside was that there was a lot of noise coming in from the outside hallway that made it hard to hear in the back. When it wrapped up Sketch was surrounded by people asking questions, and Shiva headed to the pool area to take photos for Ellystar of her costume with the unique backdrop. After we grabbed a late lunch with friends, Shiva joined Doug and Ellystar to film a “Versus” segment for AnimeCons.TV while Sketch changed into Captain Hammer and got ready for Anime Unscripted. The ACTV crew headed to main events for the show after filming, which was fantastic; Sketch was on his game, and Chris Ayres and Michael Tatum dominated the stage. We changed into regular clothes, grabbed a late dinner, and headed back to PatrickD’s room and partied for several hours. At midnight we got a knock on the door and assumed it was security telling us to quiet down, but instead a teenaged attendee asked, “Is there a party in here?” Patrick said “No,” and shut the door in his face. When we left 20 minutes later, there were about fifteen underage kids standing out in the hallway, looking awkward in their pajamas. “Are you SURE there isn’t a party in there?” they asked as we filed out. "No," we responded. At least, not for anyone under 21 there isn’t.
Saturday morning Sketch dressed as Flynn Rider while Shiva, Ellystar, and Gale wore their Sundae Best My Little Pony costumes from the 1980s. With the popularity of the new My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic show, they were mobbed for photos. That afternoon Steve was co-hosting the masquerade as Rose Tyler from Doctor Who and we helped him fill out the top with Shiva's bra stuffed with anything we could find, including Sketch's Captain Mal gloves! Steve and Jekka were hilarious emceeing the show as Rose and Amy Pond, while Ellystar and Sketch judged the performances and Shiva filmed the masquerade for AnimeCons.TV. The best skits included one from Portal 2 that was spot on and a skit featuring mischievous faeries who were ultimately killed by a flyswatter had the audience cracking up. After the show we did several photoshoots and made a pass at the artist alley and dealer's room before heading back to main events for Brian Brushwood's magic show. It was a shorter version of the program we'd seen at Dragon*Con but this time we were up close; Jekka and PatrickD had saved us front-row seats and it was awesome.
After dinner we caught the end of Mookie’s writing panel; he’s a talented and animated speaker with a real passion for writing and though we didn't get to see the whole thing, it was very enjoyable. We then went to Jeni's "Rule 34" panel, where Steve and Leelee had saved us seats in the front row. It was a packed house with people on the floors, standing in the back, and a large number of people were turned away. That night we returned to PatrickD’s room and thew back tequila shots with Brian Brushwood, Chris Ayres, and J. Michael Tatum, which was an excellent way to end the night! Shiva especially was glad to have a chance to chat casually with Brian; it made her more comfortable before she had to interview him the next day.
Sunday Shiva wore her Skuld uniform and we went to Brian’s podcast panel. He was helping his audience workshop ideas for everything from titles and content to format and promotion and gave excellent advice. Shiva took notes and revised her questions for the interview later. We wandered the con somewhat exhausted, and ended up in the staff suite watching “The Thing” with the guests. Shiva interviewed Brian after the movie wrapped up and then we both collected our stuff at the garage sale before disassembling the TARDIS with Doug's help. All packed up, we enjoyed a lengthy, wonderful chat with Chris Ayres before we left. Despite the rain it was a perfect weekend!