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EVENT: The Little 2014 ConDor Convention That Could

ConDor

“Condors and dragons living together, mass hysteria!”

 

Having traveled the convention circuit here on the left coast for nearly two years now, I was fairly confident that I had experienced pop culture shows of all shapes, sizes and types.  Boy was I wrong.  Enter Condor; billed by it’s website as San Diego’s longest running Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention.  Based on that bold statement alone, NerdBFF Hot Nerd Girl and I descended upon the Town & Country Resort in San Diego, CA to see what all the fuss was about.

 

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Geek Outlaw and Hot Nerd Girl, like night and day… and knight.

 

Admittedly, I may have preset my own expectations a little too high based on the “longest running” claim imprinted on the header of their website, as I assumed this convention would rival some of the more mid-size events like Long Beach and WonderCon.  What are the odds I’d be wrong again!? (Probably pretty good seeing as my genetic makeup is 100% male in nature.)

Size wise, Condor was quite literally one of the smallest cons I’ve ever attended, rivaling that of the C4 convention that held its inaugural show in Ventura, CA last fall.  The main floor of that event was at least 10 times the size of Condor and the turnout was noticeably higher, which is interesting considering it was C4’s first time out of the gate in Ventura and also taking into account San Diego is home to the biggest nerd gathering known to man each year during the summer.

 

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The floor of ConDor… I was expecting more.
(I’m also a poet and I didn’t even know it.)

 

As the saying goes however, size doesn’t matter – as I’ve been told convincingly by countless members of the opposite sex – and it didn’t matter in this case either.  What Condor lacked in overall dimensions, it made up for in the variety and sincerity of its panel offerings.  Of course the fact the main floor could be perused through in less time than you can ask “What’s Condor?”, made attending at least a few panels mandatory for getting your monies worth.

The first panel of the day also happened to be my favorite.  Simply titled, “Broad Appeal vs. the Personal Touch”, panelists Sherwood Smith, Stephen Woodworth, Kelly Dunn and Dani Kollin, discussed the balancing act required by an author when it comes to a writer creating a story that is too generic or too personal.  The debate focused on trying to appeal to a mass audience, but doing it in a way that still maintains the authors own personal touch in order to set it apart from everything else on the market.  Being in the middle of my own writing endeavor, I found the entire topic enlightening and informative.  If you read my blog, lord knows I could use all the help I can get.

 

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Left to right: Kelly Dunn, Stephen Woodworth, Kelly Dunn, Dani Kollin and Sherwood Smith all looking concerned that Geek Outlaw is in the room.

 

“Alien Invasions and Human Responses” was another intriguingly named panel of which I successfully dragged Hot Nerd Girl to as well.  I use the word intriguing because I assumed that this discussion revolved around the use of alien invasions within science fiction media.  Color me surprised, when most of the discussion revolved around topics such as the Nazis, human colonization and the supposed pilfering of natural resources.  I had to check my program again to see if I was at a sci-fi con or a hippy love-in passing itself off as an authentic history class.  In any event, it was all tied up nicely when one of the more fascinating con-attendees in the audience decided to share his theory on how each of us was a human oil factory and interstellar extraterrestrials were using us to power their space ships.  If that’s truly the case, then pubescent teenagers of the earth are in grave danger beyond what I originally thought.  Based upon the open jaws of the conspiracy theory loving panelists, even this seemed a bit too farfetched for their own tastes as the moderator quickly ended the session before the audience member could go into full detail on the oil extracting process.  I quickly came to the conclusion that this type of convention also attracts those of whom can’t quite seem to pass the background check of owning a credit card for a larger convention such as SDCC.

 

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The worlds utmost authority on alien invasions. G-d save us all.”

 

The Dynamic Duo of HNG and I also managed to squeeze in a few fan panels discussing the popularity of Doctor Who and the polar love-hate emotions conjured up by The Big Bang Theory.  Due largely to the fact I have the equivalent run-time of one movie and three episodes under my belt, the Doctor Who topics flew all but completely over – and through – my cranium.  Then again, there’s very little that doesn’t.  One of the more memorable portions of the Doctor Who roundtable was actually one of the panelists by the name of Robert “Sweetie Wife” Evans.  He earned the “sweetie wife” nick name from HNG and I due to his endearing but rampant use of the phrase “sweetie wife” when referring to his better half.  “Sweetie wife” (sick of it yet?) also presided over The Big Bang Discussion which, while entertaining, seemed to go off the rails a bit from how the topic of discussion was originally described in the con-guide.  In fact, with the exception of the writing panel mentioned above, most of the panels seemed to diverge off the beaten track more often than not.  I felt like this was in large part due to the moderators themselves involving themselves too much into the conversation versus, well, moderating it.

 

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Second from right: “Sweetie wife” getting his Who on thanks in large part to, you guessed it, his “sweetie wife” (not pictured).

 

In spite of those few notable misfires, I actually enjoyed the overall feel of the panels.  The small environments and the participants knowledge of their passions gave the whole experience a family like atmosphere which was somewhat welcome to the overstuffed rock star gatherings that people sell their first born to get into at SDCC.  The fact I wanted to interject my own thoughts and opinions during most of ConDor’s panels was a testament to the interactive nature of the hosts and the smaller group setting.

 

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Hot nerd Girl told me the mask was an improvement… frankly, I can’t argue with her assessment.

 

Outside of the panels themselves, Condor provided a mini-museum of sci-fi artifacts along with a gaming room and a media room showing classic episodes and movies from popular fandom franchises.  As I touched on previously, the floor itself was rather small but quaint in that all the vendors were extremely friendly.  One thing I’ve never seen before was the unique ribbon collecting activities taking place in the main vendor area.  From what I could tell, each booth had a unique ribbon which they would hand out to an attendee should they patronize their booth.  The attendee would then attach the ribbon to the stream of ribbons under their badge.  If I had to guess, this is a tradition long practiced at Condor based on some of the badges I saw that had three miles worth of colorful material dragging behind them as they strolled through the premises.

 

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Stuck between a fake Stargate rock and a Hot Nerd Girl.

 

The other unexpected surprise of this convention was the cosplay.  Usually, the Outlaw is surrounded by a horde of muscular heroes, bloody zombies and a bevy of scantily clad ladies wearing the equivalent of lingerie with superhero logos on them.

 

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These gentlemen have been friends for more years than I can count to.
As they say, keep your friends close, and your arch fandom nemesis closer.

 

The theme of Condor was what is known as Steampunk, or otherwise known as the sub-genre of science fiction where everyone wears goggles, lots of leather and frilly ruffle dresses.  Think the Rocketeer meets Pride and Prejudice and you’ll get the idea.  Needless to say, a space cowboy wearing a bright Ghostbusters jersey and a cowboy hat stuck out like George Strait at a Kanye West concert.

 

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“Condor gives you wings!”

 


(ConDor attendee Capt. Seekerman requesting clearance for a fly by.)

 

Despite my incoherent diatribes about the size and quirkiness of Condor, in the end it was those same quirks that actually made the con one of the more entertaining shows I’ve attended.  Heck, I just may be tempted to go back to add a few more ribbons to my badge, assuming of course aliens haven’t turned us all into individual pay-at-the-pump Chevron stations by then.

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