Saturday, May 6, 2017

JordanCon 9 Recap: The Black Tower Edition

As I take the final sips from my flask of Highland Park 15 Year (aka. “The M’hael’s Private Reserve”) leftover from this year’s toast, it’s time to write my recap of the geektastic paradise known as JordanCon…

[u][b]Some People To Thank[/b][/u]

First, special thanks are in order to some of the people that made this all possible:

Godzilla, the mole people, the cast of “300”, and all the rest of the meme-pantheon for taking a break off your assault on Atlanta’s highway and transit systems.
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(Apologies for the lack of credit to whoever on the Internet made this; it was too awesome not to use here.)[/center]

JordanCon’s numerous staff and volunteers for their efforts in raising money for the Mayo Clinic and making every year even more memorable than the last.  Especially the con suite staff for teaching us all that “hot dog” is actually a number.  (Hold for laughter.)  But, seriously.  These folks work tirelessly -- some of them all year -- to consistently push the envelope on just how amazing an event like this can be.

Harriet and Team Jordan for keeping the dream alive by continuously giving “Wheel of Time” fans more to talk about.

And of course, the late Robert Jordan for creating the series that has brought us all together, and made many of us (myself definitely) better people.  May you shelter in the palm of the Creator's hand, and may the last embrace of the mother welcome you home.

[u][b]On With The Show![/b][/u]

It has become tradition at JordanCon for there to be at least one cameo appearance by the Asha’man during opening ceremonies, and this year was no exception.  This year, Patrick Minze and I served as doormen, ushering in our toastmaster Graendal (Amanda McTaggart).  And later fulfilling the Black Tower’s annual duty of “escorting” Richard Fife (JordanCon Writer’s Track Director) from the stage, as he once again attempted to take over the show.
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(Photos courtesy of [url=]A Life Condensed Photography[/url])[/center]

It turns out, Deana Whitney (Black-Tower.Net’s chief editor and JordanCon Workshop Director) was actually Moghedien this whole time.  Oops…  Sorry, guys.  My bad.

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(Photo courtesy of [url=]A Life Condensed Photography[/url])[/center]

Apparently, there was also some confusion over whether Paul Bielaczyc (JordanCon Art Show Co-Director) needed a mic stand.  But, well…  When the Lord Dragon commands you to do something, you do it.

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(Photo courtesy of [url=]A Life Condensed Photography[/url])[/center]

One of the highlights at JordanCon is, of course, the annual costume contest on Saturday. Competition in this event becomes fiercer with each passing year.  And, there are just too many amazing costumes to mention them all.  To see more of the amazing cosplay that has been featured this year, and years past, check out the [url=]JordanCon Facebook Group[/url].

Of note this year was the first prize winning, team entry of The Dark Lord Dragon and his wives, featuring our own Paul Bielaczyc (Rand) with April Butler (Elayne), Cassi Costoulas (Aviendha), and Leslie Annis (Min).

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(Photos courtesy of [url=]Cooper Blackwood[/url])
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(Photo courtesy of [url=]Leslie Annis[/url])

And on a lighter note…  I’d not planned to enter the contest this year. Then, I was talked into it during my beard prep for my dance party costume.  (Thanks, Kelcey Casson!)  And so, yours-truly flipped the script on what is normally an exclusive cast of fantasy and sci-fi characters, by appearing as The Dude (“The Big Lebowski”).

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(Photo courtesy of [url=]Cooper Blackwood[/url])

I didn’t expect to win anything, nor did I.  I’m not sure that either Harriet or the guest of honor, Charles Gannon (the Caine Riordan series), even knew what they were looking at.  But the look on the face of our third judge, Jason Denzel (“Mystic”), as he fought bravely to keep from laughing was all the reward I needed.  Mission Accomplished.

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(Photo courtesy of [url=]A Life Condensed Photography[/url])[/center]

The Black Tower Party: A Series Of Unfortunate Events

So, the trade off for having been in the costume contest was I had to immediately run to my room to change into my Asha’man uniform, in preparation for our first official pinning ceremony and first anniversary toast!

A quick side note, to those who were there: I assure you there had been some planning for how both of these events were going to proceed.  But, those plans had entailed me not being out of breath, losing my voice, or being sleep-deprived from hanging out with one of our members until the sun was up the night before.  (DOH!!!)  Special thanks to Jimmy “Punta'dvoyat” Liang for welcoming everyone and doing most of the talking.

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We are still working out specifically how a pinning ceremony should look; most traditions start with a clean slate and build from there.  Due to a time conflict with the Charity Auction, we couldn’t get quite as elaborate as last year’s unofficial ceremony, but we may see that in the future.  This year, we injected some shenanigans into the ceremony by giving nicknames to the newly pinned.  (Jimmy’s idea.)  We will be attempting to stick to Old Tongue names, whenever possible, though there were a couple that wouldn’t work this year.  (ex. We didn’t want to name Steve after one of the Forsaken.)  Those of you that were pinned by Rand at the unofficial ceremony last year, we’ll have names for you eventually.

Dragon pins were awarded to the following members (Sorry, photos are MIA.):

Steve “el Professor” Waldrop
Patrick “Probita” Minze
Eric “Tsorovan'dival” Oglesby
Gary “Boooo” Kellum
Mack “Dovie'andinen” Perry

In honor of our 1st Anniversary as a group, I splurged a bit and bought a bottle of Highland Park 15 to share with everyone.  Graendal happened to wander in at some point and questioned my making everybody take it as a shot.  But, whatever, she’s not an Asha’man.  LOL.

The next few photos require some backstory to explain…  When I first made my uniform I found it very comfortable and would wear it all night.  Since the convention moved to the current hotel, my uniform has attempted to kill me twice.  So, I opted this year to only wear it for the ceremony.  It was only after a change back into The Dude, when everybody that had been held up at the Charity Auction wandered in and reminded me we forgot to take our group photo.  Since most of these guys were original members, we did a second toast.  (Affectionately dubbed “the real toast”.) And, then silliness ensued…

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(Photos courtesy of [url=]Phillip Edwards[/url])

This marked the end of the toast and start of our first ever room party.  I admit, the party itself had zero planning beyond a vague “let’s order pizza”.  While this was partly because we didn’t know we’d have a room to do one until just before the con, it’s only now that I can reveal that this was also a test to see who would emerge as leaders within our order.

As M’hael, I could not be more proud of my brother Asha’man that stepped up to make it a proper party, and kept it going until late into the night.  There’s too many of you guys to thank individually here.  It was a group effort, and you guys all deserve a round of applause.

One Asha’man that impressed me, most of all, was Connor “Sor’zemya” Smith.  Connor supplied a lot of the extra booze and snacks for the party, and volunteered to hold down the fort while a bunch of us die-hard tWoTcast fans broke away for that.  And when I came back, I found the place hopping and him working the room (*nudge* nickname *nudge*) talking up The Black Tower, making sure everybody had badge ribbons, and just generally being a great host.  (It definitely made up for me being tied up dealing with things, like weird pizza delivery people and the hotel forgetting what a party floor is.)

As the night progressed, people shuffled back and forth between our room, the Nine Horse Hitch (aka. Chip’s bar), and the dance.  Though, I am sad that I missed this golden nugget of cosplay/comedy genius...

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(Photo provided by [url=]Patrick Minze[/url])[/center]

At one point, I even came back from a smoke break to find that Nick Stapleton of “Bridge Four” (group entry in the costume contest at JordanCon 8 ) had brought Drunk Jenga to the party!

There are no beginnings or endings to partying at JordanCon, but there was an ending.  Jimmy and I must have fired up the hivemind at some point, because while I’d gone downstairs to round up a few people to help clean, he’d come back from the dance and marshaled that effort already.  I’m very glad to report we left the room spotless, and all set for Team Jordan to use the room the next morning.

[u][b]Looking Forward To JordanCon 10[/b][/u]

Ten years of JordanCon.  This is something we need to celebrate.  Gentlemen?  Tuxedos?  LOL.

Harriet’s confirmation that the TV show is a real thing that is about to hit production, means now is the time to get focused on “Wheel of Time” cosplay.  Start planning now, if you haven’t already.  Share your work here on the site or on Facebook.  Need help with your costume?  Ask your fellow members.  Let’s make The Black Tower the place that the TV show looks to inspire their costumes!

One tradition at JordanCon that we’ve yet to take part in is the annual presentation of gifts to Harriet at opening ceremonies.  Often it’s only one group, sometimes more, that get the honor.  But, next year is the 10th Anniversary.  If Harriet doesn’t leave the room with more gifts than she can carry, then fandom as a whole has failed.  I’m going to be looking into what we might be able to do there.

This is not a Black Tower event, but I can’t leave without saying congratulations to Asha’man Mack Perry and his lovely fiancee, Mandy Alcala.  I’ve been asked to be one of the people helping plan their wedding, to be held during the tWoTcast live show at JordanCon 10, and officiated by Harriet!!!

Next year is going to be one for the record books.  I can’t wait.  #IsItAprilYet

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