LeakyCon 2011 Blog #2: The Greatest Con Ever!

LeakyCon 2011 is over.  Well…not quite.  As I write this, I am at the Esther Earl Rocking Charity Ball, named in memory of an amazing and inspirational young woman, who did more that mattered in her short life than most people will in a full lifetime.  It is incredible to see 2000 people here dancing and singing along in her memory.

I met Esther twice.  The first time I had no idea who she was.  It was at LeakyCon 2009.  We sat next to each other at the Michael Goldenberg luncheon keynote.  I only realized it was her later, after she had passed and I read Melissa Anelli’s blog where she mentioned the oxygen tank.  That made me remember.

Esther said something, I don’t remember what.  I think it was about how crazy it all was, or something.  I just nodded.  I’m not very good at talking to people (I’d probably be happier going through life under an invisibility cloak).

Then I met her again when I went to a Draco and the Malfoys show that turned out to be her Make a Wish event.  Honestly, if I had realized that was what the event was, I probably wouldn’t have gone.  Esther asked, as she apparently did everyone, what house I was in.  All I said was Gryffindor.  By then, I realized who she was, having seen so much online about her.  It’s not often you get a chance to meet a truly amazing person and don’t take it.  Par for the course for me, I’m afraid.

Anyway, yeah, I’m blogging at the ball.  Yes, it’s true; I’m just that awesome.  (That was sarcasm, just to be clear, I’m a total loser, but I probably didn’t need to tell you that.)

If you’ve read my previous blog post, you’ll understand what I mean when I say, I’m going to try not to be so…whatever it is you call what that post was.  No promises though…it’s been a very emotional week.

So, my LeakyCon experience started out on Tuesday morning.  Airport security in Boston was far less of a pain than I was expecting.  No scanner, just the metal detector.  Of course, there was the whole stupidity with taking off my shoes, but that wasn’t such a big deal.  I will say that every single TSA agent I spoke with was polite and helpful.  I’m not sure how that happened, but I did appreciate it.  Maybe they just realized that in recent months, TSA has stood for Totally Stupid A-holes and decided to improve their image.  In any case no complaints from me.

The plane ride wasn’t too bad.  I’m never comfortable on planes, but it was fairly painless.  The only thing that royally sucked was these two jerks in the row in front of me.  I was in row five on the aisle, and as soon as the fasten seatbelt light went out when we landed, I immediately jumped up with my carry on to move toward the front of the plane.  The two morons, who were traveling together on each side of the aisle, stand up, step into the aisle, and just stand there talking.  They didn’t grab their luggage and move forward, they just stood there and waited until the three rows in front of them were all up and blocking the aisle, then grabbed their luggage.  They apparently had nothing better to do.  I could have been off the plane in two minutes, but instead it was almost fifteen minutes that I stood there.  I hate idiots.  There is no reason why I needed to wait with my one carryon while everyone else was pulling bag after bag from the overhead compartments.  I swear they should let people without anything in the overhead compartments that took the time to check their bags priority when disembarking.  We after all have to go wait for our luggage, so we should at least get something for doing that.

Okay, that’s enough complaining about flying.

So, then I got into the airport and got my luggage.  Then I went outdoors and found myself standing on the surface of the sun baking like a rather large biscuit in an oven.  The last time I was in Florida was June of 1992 for a High School trip to the American Computer Science League All-Star Competition. (Where my team in the Intermediate Division finished a disappointing 12th in case you were curious.  That weekend I missed the only two Little League games I missed in 18 years of coaching…several of which I coached while I was so sick I couldn’t even stand up.  None of that is relevant to this. It just came to mind, and it’s my blog, so I have permission to ramble on for no good reason.)  I don’t remember it being THIS hot then, but I also wasn’t as fat and old, so maybe that has a lot to do with it.

So, the shuttle ride to the hotel wasn’t bad (unlike the last shuttle ride I had from an airport during which I was sure I would end up dead on a California Highway), accept that I had to get out at one stop to let someone else out and scraped up my knee of the car door.   I can’t go ANYWHERE without hurting myself, but it could have been worse.  At least I haven’t fallen this week.  (I will probably regret saying that, as the week isn’t over yet, and my archenemy, gravity, is always looking to strike when I least expect it.)

So, I got to the hotel, checked in, found the room to be really nice, and then everything turned to complete and utter shit.  (Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but the rest of the day wasn’t good.)

          The view from the walkway into the hotel:

I assumed (rather stupidly) that the convention center was part of the hotel.  As it turns out, it is, but there is no way to get from one to the other without going outside!  It’s not that long a walk, but in this heat, it felt like I was carrying a hundred pound pack and the air was so thick with humidity that it was more like swimming through it than walking.  It only got worse when I had to wait twenty minutes in the sun for a Water Taxi to CityWalk, by which time I was soaking wet.  There wasn’t the smallest breeze blowing.  In short, I had arrived in the deepest depths of hell itself where only the truly dammed are sent to burn for all eternity.  Yay me.

          Who knew hell was so pretty:

As the hotel food and soda was insanely priced, the first order of business was a source of more reasonably (but not reasonable) priced snacks and soda, which I found along with some souvenirs.  I grabbed lunch at Panda Express, which was very good and then went to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon in IMAX 3-D.  My fourth viewing only confirmed that it is the best of the three movies by far.  I still cry when Ironhide is killed and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  (Though I do recognize that I probably should be.)  I believe one of the great moments in movie history is when Megatron says, “What would you be without me, Prime,” and then Prime says, “Time to find out,” and splits Megatron’s head open with an axe before ripping his head from his shoulders. Yeah, I know, only in my mind.  I don’t care.

So, after that, I headed to get soda and snacks and some dinner at the Burger King Whopper Bar.  Then I headed for the water taxis.  It had rained while I was at the movies, and was still drizzling, which didn’t exactly make me happy getting more soaked.  I get to the dock to find out that the water taxis won’t run when there is lightning within five miles.  BRILLIANT!

So, I then schlep over to the shuttle stop to wait.  By the time I reached it, I thought I was going to die.  Keep in mind I’m carrying my bag with more stuff in it than I should have had (my own fault) along with half a dozen 20oz Cokes and Sprites, snacks, dinner, and souvenirs.  That doesn’t even include the GALLONS of sweat soaking through my clothes.  Needless to say, by the time I got back to the hotel, I was sure I wouldn’t survive the week.

Tuesday morning I got up early, sorted out what I needed in my bag versus what I didn’t, had a delicious, if insanely overpriced, breakfast at the hotel, because there is no place else, and headed over to LeakyCon registration.

That’s when the real fun began.

Now, at this point, on the off chance that any Leaky staff ever read this, I want to say, that they are the most incredible, wonderful, people on the planet.  Starting with Melissa Anelli, their amazing leader, and down to every single volunteer (at least that I spoke with) the dedication and effort given to everything was above anything that anyone could expect of people being PAID to do this, and they were all doing it for free.  The reason I say this is that some things went wrong this weekend, and I may be complaining about them.  A few things were particularly disappointing, but it can’t take away from the whole or the incredible work that they do.  I just needed to say that.

Let’s start with registration.  It started way late, and they didn’t have my badge.  Now, these things happen, but as we would come to find out, they apparently happened to hundreds of people.  I was lucky.  I had gotten there early and been in the conflict resolution line with just two people ahead of me.  Others had to wait through hundreds.  Now, as it happened, I didn’t get all my registration materials, and had to seek people out several times during the weekend to get everything, and while that was very annoying, everyone was trying so hard to help, it’s hard to get too upset.  It wasn’t the end of the world, though I don’t know if someone who waited five or six hours in line at conflict resolution would agree with me.

Then came the first ever LeakyCon LitDay.  As someone who is currently attempting, and failing miserably, to write a YA novel, getting advice from such amazing writers and editors as Cheryl Klein, Libba Bray, John Green, Stephanie Perkins, Maureen Johnson, Scott Westerfeld, Robin Wasserman, Barry Goldblatt, David Levithan, and others was awesome.  Subjects included, “Love and Romance”, “How Books Saved my Sanity”, “Let’s Talk About Vampires”, and “I Was A Teenage Author”.  That last one was particularly funny as authors shared some of their writing from when they were teenagers.  It was pretty bad, but some of it was actually better than my writing after three years working on my book (and I’m 35 years old), so the attempt to make this aspiring writer feel better about his work failed, but that wasn’t their fault.  I’m just that bad at it.

Following that was a signing.  I brought my original Vlogbrothers/Pottercast Avatars artwork by Frak to be signed.  However, as I was to have a meet and greet with John Green later in the weekend, I decided not to make the line longer and elected to get some dinner before Arthur Levine’s keynote address and autograph session.  (More on that really bad decision later.)

Arthur Levine’s keynote was wonderful.  It’s probably on YouTube if you want to hear it, but he relayed such wonderful JK Rowling stories as taking her and her then six year old daughter out in San Francisco and going to the first child friendly restaurant they found, Bubba Gump’s.  Yes, he took JKR to Bubba Gump’s.  I find that hilarious.  Then he did a signing and I got him to sign my amazing LeakyCon Hogwarts Class of 2011 Yearbook!  Then there was a VIP reception, which I didn’t stay at very long.  They had some food, but I needed a real meal, and I decided to go get some dinner instead.

Then came the opening ceremonies, which were absolutely amazing.  They are going to tweak some A/V issues and add in the live portions and put it on YouTube.  It must be seen to be believed.  They took us through the history of Harry, highlighting the fandom related events including such amazing moments as PotterCast and MuggleCast coming out on stage, Harry and the Potters playing, members of team Starkid singing “Granger Danger” (love that song), Hank Green playing “Accio Deathly Hallows”, and other live parts that aren’t coming to mind right now.  It left the room shaking with applause.  It was the perfect way to begin the most epic Harry Potter event ever.

          PotterCast and MuggleCast (most of them anyway, I don’t think the flash went off on the picture of everyone) 😦 :

          Harry and the Potters:

          Hank Green:

Then it was time for Open at the Close, the Con event at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Universal Islands of Adventure.  That was kind of disappointing, a real let down.  It wasn’t LeakyCon’s fault.  The place is dark at night, far darker than I would have imagined.  I nearly had a heart attack walking to the WWoHP, tripping half a dozen times in the darkness on the way in and out.  I didn’t stay long.  I bought some candy at Honeyduke’s and some souvenirs at Durvish and Bangs.  I got a wand.  Don’t have it in front of me, but it reminded me of Mad-Eye Moody’s wand (I think) so it seemed appropriate.  🙂

The most disappointing thing is that they don’t have the castle lit up at night.  I could see it, but I couldn’t get any pictures and had to settle for some postcards.  I certainly couldn’t go inside the castle, but I couldn’t have ridden the ride anyway.  Didn’t even get to try butterbeer, I would have died standing in the line.  I might try to go over tomorrow, as I haven’t even used the two-day Universal Them Park pass I bought, but I don’t know.  My legs have finally stopped throbbing and I don’t know that it is worth it.  All in all the WWoHP was a disappointment, but it could have been worse.

          The Hogwarts Express:

          The only building lit up enough to see:

Funny story.  I sat down for a breather on the way out a few times, and at one point I had been chatting with another Con goer on her way out (well…she was chatting with me).  I must have looked terrible, because she sent one of the security people in my direction to check on me.  I was up and moving again, when I ran into him.  He took one look at me if I was okay.  I must have looked a real mess by then.  I know I was limping and the heat was still oppressive with the sun down.  He offered to get me a paramedic, but I told him know.  What were they going to tell me, that I’m old, fat, and out of shape?  I don’t need anyone to tell me that.  Somehow I made it back to the hotel without dying after picking up some dinner.

Things started late on Wednesday morning, which was a recurring theme of the Con.  It started with the Harry Potter Alliance’s Imagine Better press conference.  Those people are so awesome.  (Yeah, I know, I’m using “awesome” a lot.)  I’m not much for joining things, but it’s an honor to be a part of anything the HPA does, even if it’s just as someone who will cheer them on from the sideline.

Then, we got to meet the young actors from Deathly Hallows, Part II!  We met Ellie Darcey-Alden (young Lily Evans), Benedict Clarke (young Severus Snape), and Rohan Gotobed (young Sirius Black), Arthur Bowen (Albus Severus Potter), Will Dunn (James Sirius Potter), Helena Barlow (Rose Weasley) and Ryan Turner (Hugo Weasley).  What a wonderful group!  I was impressed with their composure, and interaction with the crowd during the Q&A.  And of course, Chris Rankin, AKA Percy Weasley, is awesome and was a perfect moderator.  This event was so much fun.

Then came Finding Hogwarts, the documentary starring Melissa Anelli, John Noe, and Frak of PotterCast, Harry and the Potter’s Paul DeGeorge, the HPA’s executive Director Andrew Slack, Bre Bishop, and Rita (whose last name I don’t recall).  In short, they went to England and attempted to find Hogwarts, filming it all along the way.  I don’t want to give away the ending, but let’s just say, they concluded exactly what I thought they would when I saw the trailer two years ago.  There is a little bit of Hogwarts in each of us.  I’m tearing up again.  Been doing that a lot this week.

Then came the ice cream social for the Gold Cauldron registrants, the first fifty to register for LeakyCon.  So, that was nice, a little ice cream and a quiet room to relax in for a bit, and it didn’t conflict with any of the other events that I wanted to attend or I would have had to skip it.  (Anyone who knows me is now utterly shocked that there is anything for which I would give up ice cream.)

Next up was the Potter Puppet Pals.  Look them up on YouTube.  The awesome cannot be described, it must be witnessed!
Then was one of the events I was really looking forward to this week, the LeakyMug.  A LeakyMug is when PotterCast and MuggleCast get together and do a joint podcast.  What made this so special is that it was the last event before we got to see Deathly Hallows.  One last opportunity to talk about it before it was all over.  Back to that in a minute.  Tearing up again.

During the LeakyMug Christian Caldeira, better known as retired Wizard Rocker Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls came out of retirement to play some songs.  The only OBatR songs I know have been included in compellation albums like Jingle Spells, but a couple of them are among my favorites.  Picked up both his Wrock CD’s and his Muggle CD (and need t download his others on iTunes).

I really love listening to the PotterCasters talk about Potter.  I’ve learned more about the meanings beyond the obvious in the books by listening to them than I ever learned about any book from a teacher in school.  (Though admittedly that may have something to do with my actually being interested in listening them talk about the Potter books.)  MuggleCast is cool too, but they aren’t PotterCast.  I really enjoyed this event.  Such awesome people.

As an aside, right now two thousand people are singing along to the Ducktails theme song.  Epic.  Just epic.

Then we went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II, which was promoted using the slogan, “it all ends.”  (I think it would have been less painful if they just stabbed me in the heart rather than reminding me during every commercial and on every sign.)  The only movie experience I can compare it to was the first time I saw Transformers at Botcon in 2007.  To have a theater full of fans laugh and cheer at all the same moments that night was amazing, even though I spent a lot of it crying.  This was different.  There was the laughing and cheering, but there was also the sobbing coming from the darkness, most especially during the Prince’s Tail.  I’m not talking quiet sobbing, I’m talking loud, the world has just ended sobbing.  Fourteen year old girl going through her first break up sobbing.  Six-year-old boy whose dog was hit by a car sobbing.  Me watching the Enterprise D blow up in Star Trek Generations sobbing.  I trust you get the idea, and yes, I was one of them.  I thought I might pass out when Snape…okay, no spoilers.  I cry for Dobby at the end of DH1 every time I see it, and I think in time, that will be the worst moment for me, but seeing this for the first time was so raw and so much more intense than I could have imagined, for now, this beats out Dobby.  (“I liked that little Elf.” – Aberforth Dumbledore)  We’ll have to see what happens the second, third, and four hundredth time I see it.  I’m going to see it a couple more times and will do a full and proper review when I take notes.  (I still need to really do that for Dark of the Moon, too.  Maybe a triple feature with Captain America this weekend would be awesome.)

They are now playing the “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” song.  If you don’t know what that is, see YouTube.

Then, a sobbing mess of humanity in mourning made their way back to the convention center for a night of wizard rock that I talked about in my previous blog.  MC Kreacher, The House of Black, Lauren Fairweather, Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills (With Whompy, Brian Malfoy, Lauren, and I believe Fred Lives on Drums), and Ministry of Magic all played and it was awesome.  I will admit to slight dissapointment that they didn’t sing Lovegood, but we can’t have everything.

          MC Kreacher:

          The House of Black:

          The House of Black with Lauren Fairweather:

          Lauren Fairweather:

          Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills

          Ministry of Magic wth Kristina Horner (of All Caps band and the Parselmouths):

Then came the last set of the night.  I think I said enough about it in my previous blog, but one thing I will say again.  As Dumbledore might say, The Remus Lupins have boarded the train and gone…on…but they will never be forgotten.

          The Remus Lupins:

          The Remus Lupins with Evanna Lynch playing “Luna Lovegood”:

          The final two songs of the night.  The video can’t do it justice:

As it happens, while I’ve been sitting here, a woman I was talking to the other day (or I should say she was taking to me) came by and gave me some flower seeds.  She said she was giving them to people she had met.  I feel terrible, not to mention stupid, that I can’t for the life of me recall her name.  I don’t garden, but I took the seeds, I’ll dig a hole, throw them in, and see what happens.  The part that gets me, the flowers are called Lupins.  Too bad they can’t rock like their namesake, but I still love the symbolism.

So, that brings us to Friday, which began with a continental breakfast for Rock Star registrants, which was nice.  All the food was great (we’ll talk about the leaving feast later).  That was followed by an encore presentation of “The Final Battle”, a musical based on the last 100 pages of Deathly Hallows, which was first performed at the Con (whose name I don’t know, as I wasn’t there) that was held here last year.  It was awesome.  Look it up on YouTube.  It was amazing.  The talent of Lena Gabrielle cannot be described.  A couple of her songs as The Butterbeer Experience are among my favorites.

I really wish they would do an official musical or play for each of the books.  What was great about TFB, is that it was virtually identical to the book.  I’m a very visual person (so naturally I’m working on a Novel…doomed to failure comes to mind), that’s why I prefer movies, TV, and comic books to books.  Seeing it visually presented the way it was in the books made it all the more powerful.

They are playing Dancing Queen now, if you were curious.

After TFB, PotterCast did their post Deathly Hallows, Part II show.  The show included a visit from Scarlet Byrne (I think that’s her name, I’m terrible at names) who played Pansy Parkinson in HBP and DH2 and the one and only, most epic source of awesome, Evanna Lynch, better known as THE Luna Lovegood.  So awesome, so amazing, and one of my favorite PotterCasts ever.

Next, we got the first real look at Pottermore.  As I don’t like to read, I’m not sure just how into this I will be.  I suppose I could skip the reading and do the interactive stuff, but I don’t know.  I do love the idea of getting new info about the characters, but as I don’t write fanfiction anymore, it’s not such a big deal to me.

One thing we got was a brief preview of history of Professor McGonagall.  That’s cool, but what I want is more story, and it doesn’t look like we’re getting that.  As I said in my previous post, I feel a little bit betrayed.

I’m probably the only person who saw the Pottermore presentation (which was hilarious, as the whole room was reading the screens of new canonical information and the presenter was trying to talk while the entire crowd was shushing him because they weren’t done reading) and isn’t all that excited.  It might have been better if I didn’t have this “it’s over feeling” that I just can’t shake.  Still looks cool though.

I briefly attended the Nerdfighter gathering, and was very disappointed to find out that John Green had left the con after getting sick.  Don’t get me wrong, Hank is AWESOME and I love his music, but he wasn’t really getting to play because Maureen Johnson was inciting the crowd.  I might have enjoyed that if I wasn’t so bummed that I had missed my opportunity to get John to sign my art.  I still was going to be able to get Hank to sign it at our meet and greet though (more on that later).  I went to get some dinner and back to my room to rest a bit.  I returned for Melissa Anelli’s signing, where I had her sign my original Frak artwork. (There s a pic of that at the end.)

Playing the Ghost Busters theme song now.  That’s how we roll at LeakyCon.

I then attended a special meet and greet with Team Starkid, which was due to my John Green meet and greet being canceled.  If you don’t know who they are, go to YouTube.  A while back they created and performed “A Very Potter Musical” and later “A Very Potter Sequel”.  I hadn’t seen it until last week.  I kept meaning to, but never got around to it.  Essentially, they took a whole bunch of elements from all the books, mixed them with some funny, funny stuff, amazing music and choreography, and created something so awesome, I don’t even know how to describe it.  Go watch it.  You WILL love it, even if like me, you aren’t a huge fan of musicals.  Here are a few highlights:

     The actor who plays Voldemort in the original plays Umbridge in the sequel, pink dress and all.  Yeah, it I that funny.

     Everything about Draco Malfoy.

     Darren Criss (now on Glee) playing Harry Potter.

     I need to go back and watch it to try to find the exact line, but in the sequel (which is taking place in the past, before the original) the first time Ron sees Hermione he yells something like “Aaarrrggghhh, it’s a cave troll!”

     But the best of all, any scene with the actor playing Voldemort literally tied onto the back of the actor playing Quirrell.

     Pigfarts and Rumbleroar.  (Don’t ask, go watch.)

     The songs!

     So much more, I can’t even begin to tell you!

Okay, I could be listing things all day, suffice it to say, watch them, you won’t regret it.

I picked up their CD and can’t wait to hear it.  I kept meaning to watch the musicals for a long time and didn’t until last week.  It’s so good.  Also, if you are a Glee fan, Darren Criss, AKA Curt’s boyfriend, plays Harry Potter.  So, anyway, I got a poster signed by all of them at the meet and greet.

Afterwards, I sat down at a table by myself (as usual) and Brian, whose last name escapes me, came over and introduced himself and we chatted.  Very nice of him.

Fight For Your Right to Party is playing.  Damn right this crowd will.  No fans party like Potter fans.

Then came the second night of Wizard Rock.  The Parselmouths, Hank Green, Gred and Forge, Tonks and the Aurors, and Draco and the Malfoys (Brian anyway) all played.  When Brian played, “Pansy,” Scarlet Byrne went up on stage to thunderous cheers.

          The Parselmouths with Alex Carpenter, Whompy, JFF, and Jared (AKA Gred and Forge) on drums I think:

          Hank Green:

          Hank Green and…I kind of lost track of who else is in the picture, I know Whompy is there:

          Gred and Forge with Whompy, JFF, Fred Lives on Drums, and someone else…sorry, to many people for me to keep track of:

          Tonks and the Aurors:

          Draco and the Malfoys:

          Draco and the Malfous wth Scarlet Byrne:

Then came THE BEST WHOMPING WILLOWS SET EVER.   I kid you not, and I should know.  Matt has played at all but a handful of Wrock shows I’ve been to, and NEVER has there been a better one.  He played with Justin (of Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills), Brian Malfoy, and Fred Lives.  It was mind blowing.  The best moment was when they played “I believe in Nargles” and Evanna got up and stage and danced like crazy.  (Believe it or not, later Evanna would top that level of awesome later.)

Then came the most emotional moment of the night, or at least I thought so.  For the last song of his set, Whompy played, “Wizard Party Forever”, during which he gets the crowd to sing the chorus at the end.  After he stopped playing, the crowd just kept singing the chorus for five minutes.  Imagine two thousand people all singing “We’re wizards, we’ll party forever, this night will never end!” over and over again.  You can’t just make that kind of thing happen, it just does.

Then came Harry and the Potters.  I admit that I don’t have a lot of their songs on my play lists, but they put on a live show like NOBODY else.  The highlight was when they played “Smells Like Harry Potter” (A parody of Smells Like Teen Spirit) and Evanna Lynch went up on stage and played bass!  As we found out today, they had talked about it the night before and she was learning the chords at 2:30 in the morning.  I assume she must play guitar to have picked it up so fast, or maybe it’s just not that complicated to play.  I don’t know a thing about music.  Either way it was awesome.

This seems a good opportunity to say a few words about Evanna Lynch.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think any fan of anything, at some time in their life, has wanted to be a part of whatever it is they love.  When I was 8 I wanted to be Spike Witwicky.  (I sort of still do.)  The story has been told many times, but if you haven’t heard it, hear it is.  Evanna was a fan just like the rest of us (okay, maybe not JUST like the rest of us) and wanted to be in a Harry Potter movie.  She beat out, I don’t know how many others to play the part, and has gone on to play one of the most beloved characters in the HP universe.  I’m a little jealous.  She was asked during the PotterCast taping if she had to tone being the “nerdy fan” once she was cast.  She said yes, somewhat, but that when she was flying over on the plain reading one of the books, she was completely geeking out.  As awesome as they are, you won’t find Dan, Rupert, or Emma, doing that.

Harry and the Potters closed out the show to rousing ovations, and then the entire LeakyCon staff got up on stage to well deserved applause. 

This morning began with “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart”, a rock opera by Lena Gabrielle.  Two years ago at LeakyCon I saw this item listed on the schedule, “Fair Fortune, The Wrock Opera”.  Now, I’m familiar with the idea of a rock opera because my dad used to listen to Tommy in the car sometimes, so I know it wasn’t going to be an opera in the “people screaming at the top of their lungs in Italian” sense, but I really didn’t think it was something for me.  I was so glad I decided to go.  It was amazing, so I was really looking forward to this one, and it was great.  I think I liked fair Fortune a little better, but I can’t wait to get my CD of TWHH.

TWHH was followed by the Team Starkid event.  One small note here, I think that an awful lot of the people who were there when they opened the door for TWHH were only there to get good seats for Team Starkid.  I think the girl sitting next to me actually slept though TWHH.  I don’t think that was right.  TWHH deserved to have the people front and center that wanted to see it, and not a bunch of people who applauded politely or slept through it.  This was just my impression though.  Maybe I’m wrong.

Team Starkid came out and sang a number of songs and did a Q&A.  It was pretty cool.  Those songs are just so good.  I think it’s pretty wonderful to see someone like Darren Criss, who has made it as a big time star on Glee, not forget where he got his start.

The best question of the Q&A was when someone asked if there was any chance of a Starkid song being on Glee, to which Darren said that he was just a peon.  That was funny.  I think we forget sometimes that the “big stars” we all see on TV and movies, for the most part, d little more than take orders from the people making the decisions.

          Darrren Criss:

          Darren Criss and Joey Richter:

          Team Starkid:

Following that I tracked down the one and only Frak to sing the artwork I bought from him on ebay.  Then it was on to the Actors keynote where we first got to hear from the young stars from Deathly Hallows, Part II and then Evana, Scarlet, and Chris, before they all came out to have a hilarious round of Potter trivia.

That’s when the day took a turn for the unfortunate.  I decided to forgo the photo op with the actors and get in line for the signing.  By doing this, I was going to be able to get back to the Main Stage for Melissa Anelli, John Noe, and the MuggleCasters discussion of “Life Post-Deathly Hallows, Part II”.  I REALLY wanted to go to this event, but ended up missing out because the autograph line was mishandled.  I did exactly as I was supposed to and was about fifth in line.  Instead I ended up behind about 200 people and the Main Stage event occurred on time (about the only time this happened all weekend) and between the two, I missed it.  All things considered, it was one minor thing.  Disappointing though.

Why did I want to go to that event so much?  Well, I’ve come to a conclusion, quite literally as I’ve typed this blog.  I KNOW it’s not over.  I just can’t feel it.  I’m sitting in a room with 2000 screaming, dancing people who are proof that it is not over, but I just can’t feel it.  I was really hoping someone would say something at that event to convince me otherwise.  Probably wouldn’t have mattered though.

DH2 seemed as final as a grave, which it was for so many beloved characters.  I hope after a while, after I’ve seen it a few times, this feeling of it being over will go away.  I don’t want to feel this way.  I just do.

This seem as good a place as any to say something in memory of those we’ve lost this week, the friends whose deaths are as real to us as any real person, I say, rest in piece, you will be missed.

     The last of the true Marauders and greatest Defense Against the Dark arts teacher there ever was, Remus Lupin.

     The Auror and pride of Hufflepuff, Nymphadora Tonks.

     The practical joker and true Gryffindor, Fred Weasley.

     Lavender Brown and all the other students who gave their lives during the battle, even though we’ll never know their names.

     Griphook.  On second thought, he was a “foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach” who betrayed Harry.  Good riddance.

     And last, but not least, the bravest man that Harry Potter ever new, the Potions Master who was a better man than he allowed anyone to see in life, Severus Snape.

     And to the rest, who may have lived on, but it feels like we’ve lost them just the same.

Okay back to the ball.  They’re playing Time Warp now.

I forgot to mention something.  Earlier tonight, a woman came over to talk to me.  She had clearly been drinking.  Essentially, she wanted to know how I could be sitting in a room full of two thousand like-minded people working on my computer instead of socializing.  I appreciated the thought, but I didn’t know a single person in that room beyond a few of the Wizard Rockers who I know just in passing from going to so m any shows.  Funniest thing was that she asked me where I was from and when I told her Boston she gave me this look and said she was from Vancouver.  Go Bruins. 🙂

The ball is ending with several rounds of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” the official theme song of the LeakyCon staff.  I still don’t know the story of why that is, but it was awesome, and they dedicated the final song to Esther Earl.  This night has been truly special.

Time to sleep.

Okay, awake again.  I’m at the leaving feast, and the food is wonderful.  The convention center puts on a hell of a brunch.

A few people just came running into the room waving their arms and yelling “there’s a troll in the dungeon!”  Yeah that really happened.  Can we do this again next weekend?

          Took a picture of this during the feast:

The closing ceremonies are about to begin, and then LeakyCon 2011 will (because I just love the imagery) board the train and go…on.  It will become another piece of the legend that is the Harry Potter fandom, to be remembered fondly by all of us who have had the privilege to experience it.  Another chapter in the awesome that few other things can even aspire to be has been written and those of us lucky enough to experience it will treasure it forever.

Well, the closing ceremonies are over.  It can no longer be said “it all ends”.  It has ended.  Depressing…very depressing.

Okay, home now, but while LeakyCon 2011 ended with the closing ceremonies, my trip didn’t.  After the ceremonies I went back to my room with the intention to sit there until 2:00 AM when I had to check out for my 2:40 AM shuttle (more on that later).  However, I noticed that it was a little less humid, so I decided to go to CityWalk and see DH2 again.  It’s even better the second time, but I didn’t take notes, so my review is still to come.

After the movie, I decided that since I’m not likely ever returning to Universal Orlando, and I had an unused two-day pass to the parks that I would give it a go and see if I could manage not to die in the process.  I went over to Islands of Adventure where I found it quite odd that upon entering the park they scan your fingerprint.  Now, I really don’t care, I don’t get all upset about privacy.  Why should I give a damn if they have my fingerprint?  I just wish I could have given the middle fingerprint for my own amusement. 🙂  I did Google it later and found out that they use the fingerprint scanner for all the lockers at the various rides that you can’t take bags and such on.  I must admit this make a lot of sense, though I would think the barcode on your ticket is good enough.  It’s not like anyone who found your ticket would know which locker you had used, but I suppose it is simpler than having to look for you ticket.  I just thought it was interesting.

So the first thing I did was hit the gift shops to pick up a couple of things for my niece, sister, and my mom.  I then headed toward the lake (or lagoon, whatever) that is in the center of the park to get my first look at Hogwarts in the light of day off in the distance.  Yeah, I was tearing up a bit, but I got some pictures and then decided since I was already this close, I might as well try to make it over there.

First I headed to Marvel Super Hero Island and got pictures of all of the Marvel characters art on the buildings.  Very cool place to be if you’re a Marvel Comics fanatic like me.  Saw a couple of things I wanted in the gift shops, but they were so overpriced, I decided to wait to find them at retail.  Picked up a couple of souvenirs though.

Then I headed through Toon Lagoon, which I wasn’t all that interested in and then through Jurassic Park.  I would have liked to have had more time their, but my legs and back were beginning to ache, and I still hadn’t made it to the WWoHP, so I just took a few pictures along the way.

Then I crossed a bridge, and before I realized it, I was seeing the sign at the side entrance to Hogsmeade.  First thing I did was jump into the Butterbeer line that only had about ten or twelve people in it, far less than had been during Open at the Close.  I got my Butterbeer in souvenir mug for $10.50 and you know what?  I didn’t like it.  Butterbeer has a funny taste to it I can’t describe, but I don’t like.  I drank most of it anyway just to say I’ve had Butterbeer.

So, to sum up, I am an HP fan who goes to cons but doesn’t know anyone there, doesn’t like to read, and doesn’t like Butterbeer.  That’s me, always the outsider.  🙂 Anyway…

So, I took some pics of the castle, you know, it is clearly smaller (I think I heard 1/6 size, but it sure gives the impression that it’s full scale.  The designers did an amazing job with it.

It was a twenty-minute wait for the ride in the castle, which I wasn’t going to do anyway, as I couldn’t possibly have fit into the seats, but I decided to do the walk through of the castle.  Let me tell you, when that place is full there must be a mile or two of lines.  Fortunately with so few people in line, the chains were set so you didn’t have to walk thought the entire maze (thankfully, or I might have died).  Still a long walk though.  Got lots of pictures along the way of the displays.  Very neat, and the line really wasn’t that bad.

          The greenhouse:

          The Penseive:

I came out of the castle and took some more pictures of the Castle and Hogsmeade.

          The only picture of me I got, however inadvertent. 🙂


When I had been there for OatC there was a line a mile long at the Three Broomsticks, but no line at all at this time, so I had dinner there.  The shepherd’s pie and macaroni & cheese (the latter of which was off the children’s menu) were excellent.  Expensive of course, but for a one-time thing it was well worth it.

So, I got a few more pics and headed out.  Took a picture of this thing along the way:

That was about it.  I headed back to CityWalk for some dinner and a few more pictures, then back to the hotel to pack.  I got quite a few souvenirs; so repacking my suitcase wasn’t easy.  Next time, I think I’ll pack my smaller suitcase and put it inside the larger one and just have two for the trip back.  That might have been easier.

I had to leave the hotel at 2:40 AM on Monday to get the shuttle to the airport.  Next time I spring for the extra 30 (I think it was) for a private car.  My flight wasn’t until 6:25 AM and the jetBlue terminal didn’t even open until 4:30.  That kind of sucked, but at least once I got inside I was able to get some breakfast and it was pretty quite for being an airport terminal.

As a lover of trains, it was very cool to have to take a train from to the gates.  I had a car all to myself (in fact I may have had the whole train to myself).

I then fell asleep on the plane.  I think I would have slept through it if we had crashed.

And that brings me t the end.  Here are a few miscellaneous odds and ends that I don’t really know where fit in the timeline.  Things started to run together after a while.

I picked up a number of CD’s including Hank Green’s “Ellen Hardcastle” which I can’t wait to listen to and Gred and Forge’s “Up to No Good”.  In addtion to my real Olivander’s wand, I picked up a resin version of Voldemort’s wand (and somehow managed to get it home in on piece).  Picked up a Gryffindor pennant, some keychains, and other assorted stuff.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, my Hank Green meet and greet never happened.  So, out of the five signatures I wanted to get on my Frak artwork, I got two of them.  Oh well, I guess it’s incentive to go back next year.  (As if I needed any.)

Well, that about does it.  LeakyCon 2012?  God I hope so.  Please let it be somewhere cool…Alaska maybe, yeah, I could get behind that idea.



About lmb3

I’m 36 years old, and I work in network tech support for a public school system. I am a huge fan of Star Trek, Transformers, Harry Potter, and Marvel Comics as well as numerous other fandoms. I’m a big sports fan, especially the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. I collect toys (mostly Transformers but other stuff too), comic books, and Red Sox baseball cards. I watch an obscene amount of television and love going to the movies. I am hopelessly addicted to Wizard Rock and I write Harry Potter Fanfiction, though these days I am working on a couple of different original YA novels.
This entry was posted in Harry Potter/Wizard Rock, Music, Nerdfighters and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to LeakyCon 2011 Blog #2: The Greatest Con Ever!

  1. lmb3 says:

    @Liana, thanks. I’m afraid it’s not the name, I’m just not good at putting names to faces. Too much unneeded information rattling around inside my head I guess. Thanks, again.

  2. lmb3 says:

    @Courtney, thanks so much. I’ve got about 400 more pictures I took, if I get the chance to weed out all the ones that are out of focus, I’ll put them up somewhere.

  3. lmb3 says:

    @Armchair Warrior, Hank’s guitar says, “This machine pwns nOObs.” That is a reference to a Woody Guthrie Album cover where he has a guitar that says, “This machine kills fascists.” The connection is that Hank’s brother John’s award winning book Paper Towns uses that album. I would love to explain to you how it uses it, but the poetry and song lyric meanings are so far over my head, I couldn’t reach it in the space shuttle. 🙂

    I knew Dumbledore couldn’t die so easily! 🙂

    This was the best Con ever. Admittedly, the standards are different than Botcon. Botcon is mainly about adding to my collection, while LeakyCon is about experiencing pure awesome. Kind of like apples and oranges, or I guess robots and wizards would be more appropriate. 🙂

    Yes, Wizard Rock (or Wrock) is a huge part of the Fandom, and no fans party like Potter fans! I’ll send you some YouTube links to Wizard Rock music videos (and Hank Green songs, there’s one Hank Green Song, Phineas Gage, that I know you’ll like).

    Yes, snow in Florida…I wish it had been real, I would have dived in. 🙂

  4. Armchair warrior needs food badly says:

    “Gravity, my arch-nemesis, we meet again!” I was curious what was written on Hank’s guitar, as I can’t make it all out in the pic. No spoilers, but I did hear that Dumbledore faked his own death so that he could go into the used speedo business. Remember, you heard it here first! I sensed a certain amount of emotion in this week’s blog. I well imagine this trip will go down as one of your top 3 ever. Maybe top five if there’s a sequel 🙂 I notice this show seemed to contain a lot of musical memories, which is an interesting departure for what I had considered to be a visual medium. Any particular reason behind that?

    Oh, and I really dig the idea of snow on the rooftops in the middle of a florida summer 🙂

  5. Liana says:

    You take wonderful photos! I hope your lupins grow for you! They’re a perennial, and will self-seed if you let them, although the plant becomes decidedly ugly imho, once it goes to seed. And not to worry about my name. It’s a tricky one.
    Best wishes!

  6. Courtney says:

    This post was amazing! I didn’t get to take that many pictures at LeakyCon, so thanks for being so awesome and taking enough for me to relive my experience! lol 😀

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