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» Saturday, August 31, 2019DragonCon, Day 2 (Or "Will Someone Get These Damn Scooters Out of the Way?")
James wanted to see a panel at nine; I was hoping to get some extra sleep this morning. This is his only other day at con, so how could I say no? So we got up at six fifteen and left at seven.
Now, when I got the garage reservations a month ago I couldn't find a space available at the Courtland Street garage on Saturday. The garage off Andrew Young Boulevard still had spaces, but Andrew Young goes uphill (or downhill depending on your POV 😀 ) and the entrance is on a slope. We have to watch out where we go due to the chair lift on the back of the truck; I was afraid it would bottom out if we entered or exited on that slope. So I consulted Google Earth photos and then got reservations at the Sun Trust Plaza garage because the entrance looked flat. Since I didn't know where this garage was, we plugged in the address to Waze and we followed directions exactly. But it took us to the wrong garage! (Not Waze's fault! Google Maps gave me the same result when I ran the directions later.) We had to back out (!!!!) and find the correct garage, which was three blocks down!...and the street was indeed flat, but the ramp into the garage was steep and the chair lift bottomed out anyway. Grrrrrrr! You should have heard the scrape!
To top it off the scanner at the entrance would not scan the QR code on my Parking Panda receipt! We went in anyway.
Then we had no way of getting into Peachtree Center for breakfast without going through a hotel elevator (nearly impossible to get in on Saturday). We had to dodge around those ridiculous scooters that are causing so much trouble in downtown Atlanta; three of them were blocking the ramp onto the sidewalk for handicapped access, so James had to ride in the street, and he had to swing once into traffic because another scooter had fallen sideways into the street. We walked all the way back down from the Marriott to the Courtland Garage so we could use their elevator and the skywalk to Peachtree Center. By the time I ate breakfast I was so aggravated everything went down like a rock.
Anyway, I escorted him, so I know James did make it to the Westin for his panel before the police shut the street down for the parade, and, picking my way through the crowd and the lines of fallen scooters around the curbs where people were trying to cross the street, I ended up in the Hilton where it was blessedly cool while I attended the BritTrack crime drama panel. This was mostly about the gritty crime dramas like Luther, which I'm not really into (well, except for Broadchurch and Waking the Dead), but it's nice to know what's out there and any new things that might be interesting.
This is the third year BritTrack has been in the downstairs level of the Hilton and previously I've loved it because it's so nice and cool down there. It was cold today but there was a dreadful stench all over the whole level that almost smelled like gunpowder or something chemical. I was told it's from Trader Vic's, which is set into the side of the hotel. It's their grill. Someone told me they thought it smelled like barbecue, but frankly if I walked up to a barbecue place that smelled like that, I'd hightail it out of there. Ew.
Next I made my way over to the Sheraton for one of the alternate history panels, "Bandits & Leapers: Time Travelers in the Media." There was no love for Voyagers! on this panel; it seemed all the panelists hated it and most of the audience. Well, sorry, I don't understand the love for Time Bandits, either, one of my least favorite movies of all time. However, we all could come together on Quantum Leap, mentioning favorite episodes and talking about the alternate ending in which Al would have leaped in search of Sam. There was a man in the audience dressed up as Al, with a wonderful hand-crafted handlink with all the candy-colored buttons. It made noises if you pushed the buttons and even squealed when you whacked it like Al used to. Too cool. (Also talked about Time Tunnel, Sliders, The Tomorrow People, etc.)
I'd learned my lesson. As soon as I was out of there I went directly to the Marriott to get in line for David Tennant, whose panel was at 2:30 p.m. It was now 12:35. DS folks are asked to get to a panel as quickly as possible, at least thirty minutes early.
The chairs for Disability Services were already filled up. WTF?
So, despite the pain in everything from the waist down, I waited, crowded in with a bunch of other people who also weren't supposed to be standing, but were waiting (I was talking to the couple next to me; she has a knee injury and a bad back). I ate my lunch while I was waiting. I started to have my juice, then realized that if I did, I'd have to pee during the panel, so I put the juice back in the backpack. More people showed up. We waited. People pushed in the crowd. I pulled out my tablet and read my book. Every joint started to scream. People pushed in so close I was getting claustrophobic. Out in the rest of the atrium, someone started playing loud music. Then, finally, the previous panel finished. People spilled out, then the crowd lessened. The call came for wheelchairs. The young mother in front of me started passing down the messages because you could absolutely not hear much of anything with all those hundreds of people milling around. The wheelchairs rolled up, including one with five people following after (you are only allowed one "minion"). Then they called sightline (people who could not see well) and hearing impaired. (Some of the hearing impaired who'd been there for over two hours didn't hear the call due to the cacaphony and didn't get in. They need megaphones and signs.) Folks in wheelchairs who showed up at the last minute got in.
Everyone four people ahead of me and all those in back of me did not. They shut down the disability line to load the folks who had been (patiently) waiting outside.
Usually I just sigh and give up, but this was the one panel at con I truly wanted to see. So I argued with the guy in the wheelchair guarding the door. I didn't shout or swear; I just expressed my frustration at not getting in after waiting two hours despite pain and seeing people who showed up at the last minute getting in. I finally said desperately, "Can I at least sit on the floor?"
He let me in. I take no pride in talking him into it, although I apparently absorbed something about negotiations while working as a purchasing agent, as I seemed to be the only one who managed this. He was really harassed by the crowd. Why they did not have an overflow room with "Jumbotrons" like they have had for previous popular panels I have no idea. Did DragonCon really not understand how popular David Tennant would be? He's still one of the rock stars of television.
Anyway, I got shunted off into a corner about halfway down the room, but I didn't care. I would have sat in the back.
It was a fun panel. I came in just as Tennant was being asked about what he and his father-in-law (Peter Davison, alias the Doctor #5) gave each other for Christmas (electronics, mostly). Then, apparently in a trend that started yesterday, he and the panel moderator (Rob Levy) raced their wheeled office chairs across the stage. (David has longer legs; he won.) Then it settled down to questions. The story I remember most is his talking about working on a Shakespeare play where the understudy in one of the roles did not learn his lines, thinking he would never be needed. Well, he was, and it was immediately apparent that he did not know his lines. Tennant said wryly that you couldn't exactly improvise in Shakespeare! He also discussed being Scrooge McDuck (that is was nice to know that there was a Scot in the Disney universe!) (evidently he's forgotten about Merida 😉 ), playing the pitiless Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, the bromance with Michael Sheen in Good Omens, if he wanted his children to go into acting or if he would discourage them (his son Ty is already an actor, having appeared on Casualty).
I had no panels next and knew James would be at the Tor panel in the Hyatt, so I slogged across the street (it was the most direct route) and found him in Regency V as expected. James loves to go to the various science-fiction publishers' panels, although he has to admit Tor is the most boring. We just sort of sat back there chilling out for an hour while the panelists talked about new books coming out.
Finally I went off to the Call the Midwife panel while James went to the Pern panel. This was just pleasantly low key, discussing plotlines we liked in the latest season, our favorite characters (and characters we'd like to see go away, Mother Mildred being the most popular), and how things are going to work out for various characters. Everyone seems to think Valerie is going to be shut out by the women of Poplar because of her exposure of the abortionist.
I met James back at the Hyatt, as he wanted to see one last panel, "Planning Space Battles," with some of his favorite writers, including David Weber. I don't read hard SF, so most of them were unfamiliar to me, but it was an entertaining panel nevertheless. Everyone on the panel was warned if they didn't talk David and Chuck Gannon would take over the meeting. 😀 But everyone did manage to get a good word in edgewise.
So when we got back to the garage, there was an attendant there. I explained about the Parking Panda code not scanning this morning and showed him the ticket and the reservation and he let us out. I was afraid the wheelchair lift was going to bottom out again on the drive out, so I drove the chair out of the garage myself and James followed behind me in the truck. There was a little ramp just to the right of the exit of the garage. James parked perpendicular to it so we were as far to the right on Peachtree Center Avenue as we could get, threw the flashers on, and then I lowered the ramp, drove the chair on it, lifted it up, fastened on all the straps, lowered the arms and the back, and off we went.
Next stop, pit crew! 😀
And thus ended James' two days at DragonCon.