Neko-con Flash (#4) was held October 26th to 28th, 2001, in the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Virginia Beach, VA, the same location it had been in it's first two years. This same hotel has been the birth place of Katsucon, Neko-con's sister convention. Neko-con has moved last year due to construction and reovation in the Executive Center. Pre-registration numbers had doubled since the previous year, now at over 800.
|Thursday Pictures||Friday Convention Pictures||Saint Danny Hong Dinner|
|Friday Night Pictures||Satruday Pictures (One)||Saturday Pictures (Two)|
|Cosplay Pictures||End of Con Pictures||JHU Battousai's Pictures|
Neko-con Flash is certainly a convention that I will remember fondly. It hadn't been since Animazement in May that I would be going to a con to just enjoy myself. In fact, it was the first con in a long time I was truely excited about going to. For me at least, all the little things that went wrong were totally overwhelmed by how well the con went in general. Everything I went there to do, I got done. Nekocon was a good way to end this turbulent convention year.
The con trip started for me on Wednesday. After my classes, I hopped on the MARC commuter train from Baltimore Penn Station to DC Union Station, then on the Metro up to White Flint where I picked up my car. My father doesn't like it if I drive anywhere farther than walking distance, so I wasn't surpised to see a note, "Drive extra carefully" on the car seat. Well, it turns out the brakes weren't working so well. So, I hadn't even really left for the con yet, and already problems were starting. But, I went up to my friend's house, picked up the digicam and digital film reader, then made it up to Baltimore again with no real problems. And guess what, there, right in front of my appartment building, an open parking space. Well, then I was going to try and study, but only after watching K'PAX. It was a great movie, and everybody should go see it. But then once I got back and tried to do homework and study, it just wasn't happening. So I went to bed and hoped to get some quality sleep in before the long weekend ahead.
Thursday morning, I bounced out of bed and into the shower before my alarm even went off. After some toast for breakfast and such I was off to my quantum physics exam. Well, after managing to actually sit though that, I ran off to my next class, dirt. (I don't care if it's called Soil Mechanics, it's about dirt.) We went on a "field trip" to see some construction going on by the faculty club, so I didn't have to worry about managing to sit still through 85 minutes of dirt. Then, even though I had full intentions to go to a secion meeting, I just skiped it and went to lunch instead. Then after that, a few last minute preparations, and my roommate and I got into my car and were off to Virginia Beach at about 2:30 pm.
Despite a lot of traffic, the origin of which I still don't understand, the drive down was uneventful. It turns out I forgot my contact case, so off I was to Rite-Aid to get a spare case. It was a nice short ride over to the store, and there were a lot of restaurants along the way. Further down the road were many more shops and even a mall, I'm told. So anything anybody might have needed was right around the con. And the hotel of course was wonderful, which is why is it used for so many conventions.
Even though the hotel makes a U-shape enclosing a pool and small patio, the convention space is mostly linear. If something's not in one direction, it's in the other. The lobby is placed nicely in the middle, so it's a good place to wait for others or just take a break from it all for a while. Between the lobby and the hotel restaurant is slightly secluded area with chairs and couches and such, so for anybdoy who wants to really get away from the hectic for a while can do so while still being close to everything. The main elevator shaft runs along the side of the lobby, so every floor opens up to the lobby below. It really makes you feel connect to the convention no matter where you are. Granted, it might not be the best for those airline pilots who need some sleep, but there are also a lot of rooms in the back wing which are far enough away to be quiet. The large open archetecture of the hotel brings with it a lot of benifits. Even when the floor space is packed with people, it doesn't feel quite to crowded because it's open six stories above. Light shines in well and really illuminates the lobby, which is wonderful for con photography. Some of the lower number roomed up to the sixth floor even had windows opening up onto the lobby below, which allowed for some rather interesting hyjinx. Unfortunatly, the hotel had a few problems, too. I'd heard of a case of overcharging and credit card blocks. The air was dry, so a lot of people got stuffed noses, or chaped lips (like myself.) These few issues were really all the problems there were with the hotel, though.
Friday consisted mostly of just taking pictures and wandering around the convention. I checked out the dealer's room, some of the stuff that was showing, the music video contest, and stuff like that. Eventually, I got into costume, as well. Nobody recognized me at all, not even the people I told I'd have a new costume. But that's what I get for going old school. For the record, my costume was Richard Lancelot, from the early 80s series "Sei Jyuushi Bismark", which was released in the US and elsewhere as "Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs". It was fun to finally be able to wear this costume, since I had actually made it for Anime Expo, but never got a real chance to wear it. Before too long though, it was time for what would be the highlight of the convention.
Everybody who was in on the secret was gathered in one hotel room, and plans were made on how to get us all to Moci, the Korean restaurant where the event would take place. I took a couple of friends with me, and off we were to the restaurant. We got there just slightly late, and all sat down. Before we even got our menus, were were already being quite loud and having a great time. We managed to actaully order before too long, and while we were munching on apatizers, somebody said, "Shh! Here he comes!"
And in walks none other than Danny himself. In slow motion, his expression goes from "this looks like a nice restaurant" to "why is everybody else here" to "wait a minute, they all planed this!" It was priceless. After that, there was a lot more laughter and fun. One of the best parts was when Alex tried to get a picutre of the group using the timer. After about a minute of waiting for it to go off, Carolina runs out and exclaims that he forgot to actually hit the exposure button! The two people who were at a different table almost fell out of their chairs laughing. There was a lot more laughing and fun, and we had our meals before long. It was really good food, and I'll certainly want to go out to Korean restaurants more often now. After a while, we were done for the most part, and took a big group photo. The bill came, and we paid. The cash collection went around, and we ended up with way too much money to cover the bill, but we knew how loud we had been. We payed what was probably about a 35% tip, which was perfectly appropriate. Even though we took up half the resturant and were late with a reservation of 22 people, there was no gratuity included on the bill. Some restaurants will automatically include an 18% gratuity just for having more than six people. The workers there had been very patient and tolerant with us, so we were more than happy to give them a big tip. On the drive back to the hotel, we saw a bad auto accident. Again, another jolt of reality, another bad thing happening. But it wasn't enough to deter from enjoying the weekend.
The rest of Friday night was mostly a blur to me. The dance was going on, which was a blast. The music was actually good, not surprising since it was actually anime music and not the industrial/techno stuff that most cons dances have. And most importantly, I had a great time with everybody there. The Cowboy Bebop movie was playing, but it's only once in a while that I get to go to a dance with friends. The movie could wait.
Satuday I was up again bright and early, got some food and was off to the lobby to see what was going on. Which was pretty much nothing. So I went back upstaris to the room and talked with everybody there, who were all in various stages of waking up. Well, before too long, things were going on downstairs, and my camera and I were off. Around noon Austell of San Knights asked me to be behind his booth in the dealer's room, because he needed to take care of something. Well, I didn't mind helping out for a while, since I really didn't have that much more important stuff to do. It ended up taking a bit longer than I thought it would, but after he came back I saw what had taken him so long. (Look at the photos to see.) It was worth the wait to see.
After that, I went back to my room to take it easy for a while. I had goten some sleep the night before, but a nice hour of relaxing would do me good, so I just played with my laptop for a while. After that, though, I was once again ready to hit the con and got into my Spike costume. More pictures later, I dumped off my images to my laptop and went down for the cosplay.
The cosplay was very good. The staff managed to get it to start on time once again. There was an introduction skit, which was very funny, and really preped the audence for the cosplay. The skits were good for the most part, and all 40 managed to get through quickly. I had a great seat, and managed to get some really good shots. However, because of the lighting, some of the shots just didn't come out very well. I missed the halftime show because I went back to my room to dump up both memory cards, which were filled during the cosplay. On the way back I even got some free pizza cause I was dressed as Spike. That was cool.
After the awards the room was cleared for the dance. I decided to skip the dance and just find other things to do. The two weeks prior of exams and homework took their toll on me, and even the con itself had taken a toll on me. I checked out the Big Fire Party, which was cool as usual, but decided to get back to the hotel before too long. The rest of Saturday night was filled with Freeze-Tag and some other games, but I actually decided to get a good deal of sleep before the long drive back home the next day. Before going to sleep, though, I decided to pack most of my stuff and put it in the car, so as to avoid the rush of people leaving the con the next morning. I met Danny on the way out to my car, and it didn't surprise me in the least that he had been going around to every individual and thanked them personally for being part of the dinner in his honor.
Sunday was typical. People needed to get packedup and leave. I was actually up early again, probably thanks to being used to wakeing up early every day for classes at college. Well, not much really happened. We all said our good-byes. Some people had enough time to go out for a last meal, others hardly had time to pack up their things and get on the road. As for me, I got to say goodbye to most of the people I wanted to. My camera which had been used continiously over the weekend remained in my pocket. Everybody else was geting pictures of the last group shot, so I knew I could mangage to get a copy some way or another. Most costumers were in plain clothes. As fun as the con had been, as all good things must do, it was time to end. At one we got in my car and headed out, playing Mambaleo at full volume.
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