I think everyone knows by now that I hate SFOTR. I also swore I’d never waste money going to another one of their conventions again. And I did not. Mother won the free pass at the Merry Geekmass event so I got in for free.
This year the convention was finally moved to a new location. This made a major difference. The Sheraton Hotel is located in the downtown area of St. John’s and has much better atmosphere than the Holiday Inn. For one thing, the Sheraton has an atrium with gorgeous tropical plants and a waterfall. The photo opportunities alone are worth it. So the location change itself makes the convention 90% better. However, I wouldn’t say the committee deserves a pat on the back for finally making the move. Instead, we should be saying, “See? See how much better this was? Why couldn’t you do this years ago like you should have?”
The only real problem with the location was the lack of parking. Also, there were a bunch of idiots who couldn’t follow the bloody direction signs on the parking lot. However, one can offset that with the convenience of having many restaurants nearby as well as an amazing view of the harbour.
Another advantage to the Sheraton over the Holiday Inn was the layout. The artist corner and the vendor’s room were on the same level. And these rooms were well lit. The committee had always failed to ensure that there was adequate lighting in the artist room at the Holiday Inn and thus that room felt like a dungeon. Any artist or vendor in a corner was difficult to spot unless they brought their own lamp. I also didn’t like the low ceiling. However, the Sheraton rooms had plenty of lights and higher ceilings. While I think there was more square footage in the Sheraton there was also the illusion of space. The simple design of a room can change an entire experience.
I stayed at the con for the full three days as my mother booked a hotel room. My mother and my aunt were having a girls’ weekend with a trip to the spa and shopping planned. I had the con to harshly judge. I rather enjoyed staying in a hotel room during the convention. It meant I could drop off my purchases immediately instead of carrying them around. It also meant that I did not have to wait in any lines for the bathroom. I have some issues with public washrooms. They bother me. And having to go to the bathroom in cosplay is the actual worse. If your cosplay is large or voluminous, chances are that the stall isn’t big enough.
Day one saw me on my own as Undertaker from Black Butler. I did spend some time with acquaintances before going out to supper with my family. I hadn’t arrived until 3pm as that was when my check in was. So between that and supper, I only really looked around the first day. I was intending to check out a panel called “Movies No One Agrees with You On” but it wasn’t listed in the book that was given out when one goes to get their armband and I forgot about it. That was a huge, totally inexcusable mistake on the part of the organizers. What good is an information booklet without any information? The next day I was finally able to get a hard copy of the schedule because someone was after printing it out and leaving a bunch at the information desk. I heard that later in the day the people at the desks finally started asking if people wanted a copy of the schedule. Totally ridiculous.
The second day saw my brother and his friends at the con so I spent the day with them. I was a steampunk/dreadpunk vampire hunter. My brother’s friends were the team that work on Candeu and Swarley Pilgrim. I should add that Swarley is very happy to be a part of SFOTR. Anyway, that day was the day of the Harry Potter Family Feud panel. There were technical difficulties as the sound did not work but overall it went well. The Swarley/Candeu team had learned a lot from the trial run at Avalon Expo the previous August. Hopefully, this will become an annual tradition that eventually goes smoothly.
I also checked out Ashley Harding Photography’s panel on her St. John’s Super Heroes project. It was an interesting look at what Ashley had learned about people’s hero preferences and even the historical preference for certain types of heroes in different eras.
The Candeu crew, another of their friends, my brother and I had an adventure trying out Escape Quest. We had tried the demo the year before at SFOTR 9 and had managed to finish with five seconds on the clock. We finished this time too although it was much more challenging. I always feel so happy to have won the game and yet so very dumb. I only figure out about one clue decently.
We finished day 2 by going to the dance. We were going to pay to get in but when we saw that the bar was in the atrium and that the music was perfectly audible out there too, we didn’t bother. Anyone that paid to go in that little room totally wasted their money. All they got in the dance room that we didn’t get was the ability to actually see the dj. We even had entertainment as there was a hula hoop girl doing a routine out in the atrium. Then we realised that one could easily sneak into the dance so long as one wasn’t related to the security guard. As was the case for Swarley.
Yet the highlight of Day 2 was our misadventure with Eugene Simon. Mother, my aunt and I had started out the day having breakfast in the hotel restaurant. There was a super cute guy in there and we keep looking at him. I was the only one back on to him and I kept turning around to look at the amazing view of the harbour. But the cutie was right in my line of sight. My mother asked if he was a girl because all she could see was the most gorgeous head of hair ever. We said no and so Mom asked if it was the “Game of Thrones” guy. I figured it wasn’t because why would he eat in the hotel with all these geeks around to disturb him? Then he keep looking at us and even started to stalk around the restaurant. We figured he knew we were talking about him and we had also realised that he was indeed Eugene Simon. So we started giggling like idiots and I ended up telling the story of how Mad Maddox and I accidently stalked Arthur Darvill. Eventually, the waitress came out and Simon talked to her before leaving.
After all of that, I had to go meet him. He was very friendly and you could go up to him for a conversation without buying an autograph or photo. He complemented my wig and I told him that he had also seen my real hair. I asked him if he remembered the three idiots giggling at him and he had not. Simon told me he had been out of it that morning and had been looking for the waitress so he could pay as he was worried about being late to the convention. Then we talked about his beauty hair and I bought a selfie as well as an autographed photo. When I told him how to spell Cassandra (“It’s the proper spelling, Cass-“), he told me that was nice and that I should introduce myself as “Cassandra Proper.” Later I would see his video posts on twitter and realise he was a huge dork. And now I’m in love haha.
I met Robert Picardo with girlpuck and her bf that day too. He was a lovely, strange man although I did have war flashbacks to the trauma of meeting Nathan Fillion when Picardo pulled hand sanitizer out of his bag.
Day 3 saw me as Urushihara Hanzo/Lucifer from the Devil is a Part Timer. I did not stay long though.
All in all, this was the best convention in SFOTR’s history. Would I pay to go next year? I don’t know. I still don’t trust the con’s ability to be good. But the move was a major game changer and solved a lot of the MASSIVE flaws that hound SFOTR. However, when mistakes like leaving the schedule out of the info booklet happen then it’s hard to have faith. I still believe that Avalon Expo is the St. John’s con with the most potential but maybe it doesn’t have to be the only one. So maybe I’ll check out next year’s SFOTR, maybe not. That cost/benefit analysis has yet to be completed.
PS. Check out this great con footage:
Ashley Harding Photography’s cosplay video
Candeu’s Draw This or That video