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Like a blur, my 12th con has come and gone. Not only was this my first trip to Florida in four years, but my first return to Megaplex since 2006. And, it was pretty nice to go back :-)
It was a 14-hour drive from here to Kissimmee, and since my passenger doesn't drive, I drove the whole way. The trip down wasn't too bad, we hit the road around 10pm, and the route from here to Florida is one of the most boring trips on the east coast. The first 400 miles were entirely rural interstates, nothing but trees and road with the occasional truck stop. And while I love trees, they're a little same-y after awhile :-P
14 hours and half a pack of caffeine gum later, we arrived in Kissimmee, and a really awesome front-desk worker let us check in over three hours early.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this con was being free to go to con events without working it around running the Cub Hub. I missed a lot of stuff at Anthrocon, and I don't think I missed a single event I wanted to attend at Megaplex. It was pretty cool to go to a con and actually go to the con.
As far as actual highlights, the Matthew Ebel concert was definitely a huge one. I've been wanting to check out his stuff for a long time, and he's even more talented than the hype led me to believe. Highly recommended. Enrique (my passenger) even bought one of his CDs for the drive back, and he's even better on the album than live.
The puppet show by Paul Zaloom (the Guest of Honor, played Beakman on Beakman's World) was quite entertaining too, I wasn't expecting it to be so well-presented and funny. He's a truly gifted entertainer.
And, no trip to Megaplex would be complete without art from Genesis, which I'll scan and upload soon. It's really adorable :-)
Most of the downsides to this con were social. There were relatively few people I knew at the con, and even fewer who were available to really spend time with aside from conversations here and there. Since I hadn't been to this con in so many years, there were a lot of people I used to talk to there who simply didn't remember me, and I tend to be too timid to say anything.
It also kinda sucked that the friends who were available to spend the con with were mostly macho-type guys. Not that there's anything wrong with that, and they were with people I really care for, but I felt like a spectator in most of their conversations. Plus, they tended to be really rowdy, which isn't my style.
And, the downside to not running a Cub Hub is that I really didn't have anything to do at night, once the dances were the only thing going on.
This wasn't helped by a roommate who made a point in every single conversation to tell me how popular she was and talk about all the parties and things she did at night. Funny enough, no one really knows who she is. Needless to say, I won't be rooming with her at a con again; she also made a point to exclude mentioning me in her con report, when I was the one who gave her and her friend a room when they couldn't find one.
General Furry Con Observations
It seems that I'm not really enjoying furry cons as much as I used to, something that's become even more obvious at the last few I went to. Since I haven't really had a commission budget since MFF '08, I haven't been able to make the con a shopping trip like I used to, and that was one of the big things that made cons interesting for me. Combined with my perpetual shyness, and the fact that I never get invited to parties that I'm not hosting, furry cons have become a routine for me.
At the same time, I really want to get into fursuiting, because it looks like more fun with every con I go to, and it'd probably be just the thing to make cons awesome again. Unfortunately, with my current financial situation, that's an impossible dream, right next to getting out of mom's house and owning a car that doesn't need $2000/year in repairs.
I can honestly say that I don't understand how anyone can live in Florida this time of year. The heat and humidity were such a shock to my system that I spent the whole con sweaty and practically didn't even leave the building unless I absolutely had to. Even if I'm in a position in the future to go to every con, I won't be returning to Megaplex (or any Florida furry event, for that matter) as long as it's held in summer.
Conversely, if MFF and Megaplex were to swap dates, I'd never miss either one, because Chicago in late November is nearly-intolerable on the opposite end of the weather scale (damn-near arctic tundra conditions). And, Florida in November would be awesome. It's not gonna happen, but a puppy can dream :-P
The trip back to Virginia went much smoother than the trip down, partly because we stopped for a nice dinner around the halfway point that nicely divided the drive. It was pretty cool to come out of the restaurant, restart the GPS, and think "Oh hey, 6 hours isn't that bad!". It also helped that, because of the aforementioned social fail, I was able to get to bed at a reasonable time and get a great night's sleep. It was still tiring, but not nearly as bad as the trip down.