Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dragon Con 2015 Recap - Celestial Objects

My friends and I spent Labor Day weekend at Dragon Con, the Southeast's largest multigenre fan convention. If you've never been, imagine 70,000 fantasy and sci-fi fans packed into about 7 square blocks of downtown Atlanta, many of them in costume, many of them sleep-deprived, all of them going from one place to another. Sound like fun? You bet it is!

This year, we opted to dress up as characters from the "Saint's Row" series of videogames. I commissioned a giant Professor Genki head, complete with a battery-powered ventilation system:

From left to right - Johnny Gat (Ziggyzeitgeist), Professor Genki (me), and Kinzie Kensington (Spookysquid):

Tessa was able to join in on the fun this year - hooray!

One of the highlights of the con was a two-hour live performance by the Georgia Philharmonic:

They recreated the famous Diva Dance scene from "The Fifth Element" (with soprano Julie Trammel cosplaying as Diva Plavalaguna):

Of course, music is all around the con. Geekapella was performing right outside the vendor hall:

Ziggyzeitgeist ran our annual 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons game. This year's tale centered on the last, lonely ride of the Agave Kid, and, as usual, it was the highlight of the con. We now have several regular friends who play with us every year, so I suppose it's not a "pick-up" game anymore, but whatever:

Lines, lines, lines - only at Dragon Con would a panel featuring the "Mass Effect" voice-actors attract this many fans:

People cosplay everywhere at the con, including the gaming room underneath the Hilton:

The Marriott Marquis hotel lobby becomes a writhing sea of foam-clad humanity at night:

The annual blood drive had cool Lugosi-as-Dracula-themed T-shirts this year, and it was as crowded as ever:

Officially, Dragon Con lasts four days, but there's not too much going on Thursday and Monday (Labor Day). It always seems to end too soon. Oh well - see you next year...

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Guns: A Gun Rag Gazetteer

I pick up my fair share of dead-tree shooting magazines, mostly for something to read when I'm tired of staring at a screen. They all have their charms (even the poorly-written ones are chock full of glossy pictures and advertisements), so here's a quick overview of some of my bathroom reading rack for this month...

Shooting Illustrated
This NRA publication is basically "American Rifleman" minus all the hunting and historical stuff. Instead, there's a focus on personal defense, competition shooting, and firearms esoterica (let's handload for your Mosin-Nagant!). Tam is a contributor, and it's cheap, too - only $20 a year for NRA members. 
Interesting Article: A feature on "The Mad Minute" by Ed Head
Featured Gun Review: Kimber Micro Carry .380 ACP
Iffy Content: An interview with author Brad Thor about gear used in his novel

Jerry Tsai's infamous anti-gun take on "sporting purposes" temporarily made this publication a pariah, but a quick switch in editors (and a gung-ho pro-2A change in tone) have allowed advertisers and shooters to embrace it for what it is: gussied-up ad-copy for the latest expensive Blastomatic.
Interesting Article: Training and fitness tips from Buck Doyle of Follow Through Consulting.
Featured Gun Review: DPMS Gen II .308 AR
Iffy Content: Agency Arms G34 "review" (note - not a knock on the company or its custom GLOCKs, which I'm sure are fine - I just thought the article was pure fluffery)

This quarterly bills itself as "The Premier Firearms & Survival Magazine" - not sure if that's the case, but it certainly is the premier magazine of Tactical-Life publications, which puts out a bunch of other "tactical" gun rags.
Interesting Article: A survey/Q&A with various firearms celebs (think Chris Cheng, Bill Wilson) about what gun they use for home defense.
Featured Gun Review: Rainier Arms PDW (it's a gun rag - of course they're going to feature a $2,000 NFA firearm)
Iffy Content: An article about surviving a malfunctioning elevator. Really?

American Shooting Journal
A monthly gun magazine that's about as cheap as it can be - $5 on the newsstand, 36 issue subscription for $50. Of course, most of the pages are absolutely stuffed with ads, so it all evens out. There are articles here you won't find anywhere else, and Oleg contributes photos.
Interesting Article: A bio on Gabrielle Pitre, an 18 year-old master-classified high-power shooter
Featured Gun Review: Big Horn Armory Model 1889 .500 S&W
Iffy Content: A lengthy feature on Battle Comp - treads a bit too close to infomercial territory

This is basically Guns & Ammo's take on the glitzy modern gun magazine, designed for a younger demographic than, say, Shotgun News. It's pretty expensive compared to the others ($9), though, and a bit light on content overall.
Interesting Article: Guns of "Terminator Genisys" (I normally hate these types of articles, but it's a cool look at Harry Lu and his movie armory)
Featured Gun Review: Grey Ghost Precision Specter Heavy .308
Iffy Content: A feature on Jeremy Stafford and his Krav Maga AK Operator and Foreign Weapons Course - again, not a hit on the training, but I've read plenty of better training AARs on webforums