Thursday, July 19, 2018

JordanCon 10 Recap

Happy National Hot Dog Day, Everyone!!!  I guess I need to get moving on this year’s JordanCon recap post.  Better late than never, right?

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10 Years of JordanCon

It has been an amazing journey for all of us that have been attending JordanCon since the beginning.  There were fewer than 200 of us at the convention in 2009.  This year the convention hit a new record of 852 people attending!  And all signs point to that number continuing to grow.  From only having the one track of panels devoted to The Wheel of Time series; to a multi faceted convention featuring tracks devoted to various interests throughout the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres.  From Friday and Sunday being sort of optional days to attend; to checking in on Wednesday night (us staff/volunteers anyway), leaving Monday, and still wishing we had more time.  All the friendships, and even marriages, that have formed over the years…  This is far more than your average nerdy, weekend getaway.  This is family.  This is home.

None of this would be possible without the following people I’d like to thank:

The Crowne Plaza hotel staff, for reminding us long-time attendees why this is had been our favorite host hotel so far, by going above and beyond to accommodate us on this our first trip back since JordanCon 3: Seancon.  (Hence JordanCon 10’s theme, Seancon II: The Return, which had been reserved specifically for this event.)

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.  These folks work tirelessly -- some of them all year -- to consistently push the envelope on just how amazing an event like this can be.

Jennifer Liang for having the courage to do-first-ask-later, and Jimmy Liang for following her on this crazy ride.

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.

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Dragonmount and Theoryland

Before we get into it, I would also like to congratulate our big brothers in the fandom Dragonmount.com and Theoryland.com, who are both celebrating their 20th year!

Dragonmount has been the place to be when it comes to learning and talking about “The Wheel of Time”, including forums, news, podcasts, roleplaying, and even Robert Jordan’s official blog.  Meanwhile, Theoryland is the place to go when you find yourself in a debate about the books, and want to destroy your opponent in the most brutally accurate way possible.  LOL

Jokes aside…  For two decades, they have been a driving force behind keeping Robert Jordan’s memory alive, by helping readers new and old along their journey through the books.  WoT fandom would not be the same, and our own group would not exist, without them.

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Opening Ceremonies

This year opened with a somber, yet beautiful experience.  As the lights dimmed, the monitor on the stage came on with a video tribute to Robert Jordan, to the tune of “From Now On” by Hugh Jackman & The Greatest Showman Ensemble. (Video Credit: JordanCon)


Immediately, I felt it.  The sadness, the loss, the tears…  Tears for a man I never personally met, but through his writing changed my life forever.  I could hear the sniffles around me, and knew we all felt it.  But, then something wonderful…

As the music picked up, a collection of photos taken at JordanCon over the years began to play.  All the amazing memories of all the great times we’ve shared; not simply as a group of nerdy fans, but as a family.  The lights were still down, but we were all glowing.

With the lights coming back up, we were once again graced by last year’s toastmaster Graendal (Amanda McTaggart), being gifted a very special “necklace”.


(Photo Credit: Deana Whitney)

This year’s toastmaster was Aubree Pham.  For those who don’t know, Aubree has been involved elsewhere in WoT fandom, almost since the beginning, in particular DragonCon and JordanCon.  (In fact, she was one of the people that inspired me to found Black-Tower.Net, partly through her Narishma cosplays.)  And as expected, she performed her duties with all the command and grace of The Seanchan Empress, may she live forever!

Our own Phillip Edwards and some friends got together in secret to present a gift to Jimmy and Jennifer Liang, for their many years of dedication to the fandom, especially JordanCon.  It was the male and female access keys to the Choedan Kal!

(Photo Credit: Deana Whitney)

(Photo Credit: Jimmy Liang)

Once again, it fell upon The Black Tower to save the show from Richard Fife’s attempt to take over the show.  This time, following an insult to my heritage!  I care not for euphemisms like “little people”, thank you very much.  I’m a hobbit, and proud of it!  LOL

(Photo Credit: Deana Whitney)

Next, the Blademasters to took the stage for a very special announcement.  JordanCon’s official videographer, Steve Godecke, was called to the stage.  Steve was awarded the title of “Unchallengeable Blademaster”, their highest rank, in honor of his long battle with cancer.  Tai’shar, Asha’man!

(Photo Credit: Deana Whitney)

Soon it was time for the various track directors to talk more about panels and workshops offered at this year’s con.  And with it, Paul Bielaczyc (aka. Rand al’Thor) to come up on stage.  Because of Paul’s accidental use of naughty words during past appearances, it was decided this year he needed a censor, our own Pat Minze.  Pat’s job was to chime in whenever Paul was about to say words like [hot dog], [hot dog], or [hot dog].  It was [hot dog]ing hilarious!!!

(Photo Credit: Deana Whitney)

I actually had to walk out after Paul’s bit; too many feels from earlier, and some painful memories from before I found my tribe.  So, I missed the rest of the show, which apparently included this nugget of awesomeness by Peter Ahlstrom (Video Credit: Melanie Epps Murray).

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This Year’s Pinning Ceremony

Friday night we welcomed our newest Asha’man, to our ranks.  Receiving their pins this year, please welcome the Black-Tower.Net Class of 2018:
Matt “She’budhval” Steinberg
Jake “Kesool’hanol” Ballamis
Thom “Nor an’muaghde” DeSimone
Jordan “Chicaba’nen” Hibbits
Foster “Feia an’Dantoren” Cassidy
Kristi “Dhamel a’cuebiyar” Deming
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To everyone that attended, I promise there had been a plan for how the ceremony was supposed to go.  (We will get it right next year, I swear.)  But there had been some complications due to scheduling snafus, plus I was a little distracted preparing for what happened at the end.  LOL  (Video Credit: Patrick Minze)  I’m actually not sure which camera angle I like better, for this.  (Video Credit: Natasha Johnson)

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I can’t thank everyone that made it this year enough, including those members that chose to stay off camera (you know who you are).  Our little group gets bigger every year, and I’m honored to know that people want this.


(Photo Credit: Mack Perry)
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Costume Contest

Before the show, there was a special bit of business to cover.  Normally, the tradition is for the various fandom organizations to present gifts to Harriet.  This year, there was only one gift presented by JordanCon on behalf of all fans of the series.  A blanket, designed by Deana Whitney, featuring a collection of photos from JordanCon’s past.

(Photo Credit: JordanCon)
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On with the show...
Competition in the contest on Saturday becomes more intense with every passing year.  I mean, where else will you see WoT costumes like this?  (Video Credit: Jeff Daniel)

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This year, new categories were added based on past wins and other criteria; instead of the traditional win, place, show.  Congratulations to the winners!

Best Of Class: Novice

Henry VIII with an Italian “friend”  (Brandyn Butler &  Rachel Little)
(Photo Credit: Leslie Annis)

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Best Of Class: Journeyman

The Heralds  (Seth Jones, Kate Helmly, Steph Greear)
(Photo Credit: Deana Whitney)

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Best Of Class: Master

Draghkar  (Sophie Coleman)
(Photo Credit: Amy Romanczuk)

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Best Workmanship

High Lady & Truthspeaker  (Serafina Viriglio & Christine “Cat” Cathryn)
(Photo Credit: Leslie Annis)

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Best In Show

Moiraine’s Transition by Ariel Burgess  (Leslie Annis)
(Photo Credit: Leslie Annis, Ariel Burgess)

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Audience Choice

The Winter Dragon  (Tony Cioffi)
(Photo Credit: Kimberly Reynolds-Gier)

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Judge’s Choice (Jason Denzel)

Saint Brigid  (Ellie Raine)
(Photo Credit: Leslie Annis)

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Judge’s Choice (Brandon Sanderson)

Shallan Davar  (Donavynn Sandusky)
(Photo Credit: Kimberly Reynolds-Gier)

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Judge’s Choice (Lyn Luther)

Twinborn Fashion Plate  (Rosemary Williams)
(Photo Credit: Leslie Annis)

(Photo Credit: Kimberly Reynolds-Gier)

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Judge’s Choice (Harriet McDougal)

Nicodemus Archleone & Anduriel  (Thom & Erin DeSimone)
(Photo Credit: Lee Ann Cinnamon)

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There were a few this year that didn’t win, but still deserve mentioning.  If there were a category for Best Group Performance, I feel Linda Taglieri, Richard Fife, and Elizabeth Rawitsch appearing as Maria Simons and the Romanczuks would have nailed it.

(Photo Credit: Amy Romanczuk)
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I’m kind of shocked that Ava Cash didn’t steal at least a Judge’s Choice award.  (Video Credit: Amy Romanczuk)  I guess she’ll have to settle for having taken first place at karaoke on Friday night with “The Dark One Went Down To Georgia”.  LOL

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We also had a second entry based on art by Ariel Burgess, Megan Mattingly in the dress she’d worn while posing for Graendal.  A win here would have paired perfectly with that same painting winning Ariel first place at the art show.

(Photo Credits: Cooper Blackwood, Ariel Burgess)
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Blood and bloody ashes!  This is twice now that our own Joe O’hara was ROBBED of a win as Matrim Cauthon.

(Photo Credit: Leslie Annis)
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Mack’s Wedding

Saturday night, our own Mack “Dovie’andinen” Perry got married to his lovely bride, Mandy!  Flicker.  It was a beautiful, Two Rivers ceremony performed by Harriet.  Flicker.  Then it devolved rapidly into a tWOTcast Live show, and we all got drunk watching a TV-MA version of “The Newlywed Game”.  Flicker.


(Photo Credit: Amy Romanczuk)
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Looking Forward To Next Year

And now here is a series of hot dog photos, to make you hungry for more JordanCon…

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All hail the Dark Lord Dragon!!!  May he champion the Great Lord to victory, bringing an end to the Turning of The Wheel and unraveling The Pattern itself, at JordanCon 11: Shai’Con “The Darkest Timeline”!!!


Update

So, I know it has been quiet around here for a bit. I have a post I'm working on, and will hopefully have up this weekend. (Waiting ...