Connooga 2016 Review of Times Had

Hello again friends!

Connooga was a week ago and we had our typical laid back fun at this convention, which tends to be a laid back event.  I always enjoy seeing the Choo Choo hotel and enjoy downtown Chattanooga in general.  If you’ve seen my previous reviews on Connooga you know it’s a multi-media convention for all kinds of geeky fun and mayhem.  I particularly enjoyed starting our weekend with a trip to the dealer room and then our shuttle trip back from the convention center with a humorous Kylo Ren cosplayer.  He actually looked just like the character from the movie and was playing around with everyone.  He stood at the front of the shuttle, saying he should threaten to keep everyone on board as he turned on his light saber.  You really had to be there as I’m terrible at painting this picture right now, but it was a fun ride hearing his banter back and forth.  🙂  Speaking of the shuttles, the hotel shuttles were fantastic all weekend for the convention!!  I don’t know why, but I’ve never noticed the hotel shuttles before.  I don’t know if they had more running this year or had them running more efficiently, but it was great!  If you haven’t been to Connooga in the last few years then you might not realize they moved a lot of the convention events into the downtown convention center.  So there are a few things going on at the Choo Choo Hotel, but the dealers room, panels and such are held at the convention center now.  It’s about a mile, I believe, from the Choo Choo.  So our routine was always to go to the bus terminal which is right by the Choo Choo’s entrance and get one of the free buses to get over there.  The only problem is it stops all over town and if you aren’t familiar with where you are you might not know where to get off and you have to take the ride around town before it stops at the convention center.   It also takes a bit longer to pick up one of these buses.  This year, we would literally step outside the front of our hotel building and a shuttle from the hotel would stop right there to take us directly to the convention center.  One came by every five minutes so it never felt like you were waiting a long time, plus they had a Connooga flyer on the front of the shuttle so when you were coming back you weren’t questioning if you were getting on the right shuttle.

Another new thing we experienced this year was a new restaurant that was actually build into the front of the Choo Choo Hotel.  It’s called STIR and they apparently have a fancy pants Ice Chef!  You heard me right, …. I said “ICE CHEF”.  Nothing says fru fru like hiring someone to specialize in and specially prepare your frozen water.  Despite the fun I’m having poking at the Ice Chef, I was excited to try out the restaurant.  The reviews I read online sounded good, but I have to say I don’t know if it lived up to my expectations.  My drink was fantastic, but I don’t feel it was $12.00 fantastic.  It was a Mule concoction.  Ironically there was a lot more ice than drink.  So I felt a little ripped off on the ratio.  For my dinner I ordered a shrimp and scallop ceviche and it was a pretty dish and tasted fresh, but the chili flakes they sprinkled on it made it a bit too spicy for me.  Plus the seafood still seemed to be a little too under cooked by the acids for my taste.  I’ve only had ceveche one other time, when I made it and I enjoyed mine better.  I had the crab bisque which everyone online raved about, but i felt it was sort of blande.  Sorry STIR!  For positives, the atmosphere is really nice and I’m glad they kept some of the historic elements from the hotel.  You’ll see big beautiful windows, high ceilings, the same tile scheme as inside the Choo Choo and these crazy library shelves for storing the 300 liquors they have!  My bestie and I were joking about how we wanted to use their library rolling latter to re-enact the scene from Beauty and the Beast.  🙂  So I would probably return to STIR, but it would be for more of a girls night out for drinks or something like that.  I would like to give the food another shot, but that will probably be up to my friends if we go.

This year I was pretty casual again dress wise.  I was excited to wear the new BB-8 dress I bought and I made a hair pin to go with it.  I also found a cool pendent in the dealer room to wear with it for Saturday night.  Everyone seemed to really like it.  Thanks friends for the nice compliments!!  You make a girl feel warm and pretty!  🙂  Other than that, your typical room parties were fun.  Fall Out Party…, why no music??  I was very sad there was no music and the fact you were sneaky and hiding the jello shots!  I heard they had some once I left and went across the way.  Party who had the virus drinks, who was playing fantastic music in the beginning of the night, A+ for you!  I wasn’t a fan of the music later on, but your strong start gave me a happy and fun beginning to my evening!  😉

I was mainly snapping friend photos at Connooga, with my Iphone!  Sorry for not giving you a better view on the con, but this is what happens when you wanna just focus on chilling out with friends  🙂

And with that I bid you good night friends!

-Little Neko

MTAC 2014, The Great, The Bad and The Lines

Hey everyone in Internet land!

If you’re interested in Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC) then you probably follow them on one of their associated Facebook pages and have seen all the negative comments about this year’s convention.  I wanted to give my thoughts on the weekend.  Of course it’s based on the things I’ve done, but that’s what I got.

SIDE NOTE: I’ll be posting again soon showing off the costumes I’ve been working on.  We got some great pictures so stay tuned!

MTAC was held this year in Murfreesboro, TN instead of downtown Nashville, like last year.  Let’s go with the positives first.  Over all, I personally had a great time, but a big part of it was my friends and me making it what it was.  Besides friends being awesome, I loved the hotel despite how small it was to house the now three thousand plus in attendance at MTAC.  I wish every con could be held at an Embassy Suites!  The room was amazing with bedroom, kitchenette, microwave, good-sized mini fridge. and pull-out bed in the living room.  We all loved the free, full breakfast each morning that usually ran till 10 or 11am!  I’m talkin’ fruit, yogurt, cereal, sausage links, bacon, home fries, omelets, coffee, tea, juice, soda, etc.  Then they had a “Manager’s Reception” from 5pm – 7pm every night–in other words free drinks (beer, wine, and liquor). To top off all of these bonuses they had a free shuttle that took us to our restaurant of choice in Murfreesboro.  We tried to make sure to tip as much as possible.  Along with the hotel, was its friendly staff.  Everyone we dealt with was very helpful and friendly.  We also didn’t experience the always annoying elevator wait.  We never waited too long for an elevator.

So I really have little to complain about when it came to the hotel, the only exception being the obvious lack of space to support the crowd.  Now how can you blame the hotel and its staff for the size of the convention?  I think they handled it as best as they could.  So if people are complaining about the hotel staff, they need to look elsewhere.

I’ve also heard people complaining about the MTAC staff; there might have been issues, but I personally didn’t have any negative experiences.  Oh, by the way, the dealer’s room had a good selection for being downsized.

Now we’ll go for the negatives.  Like I’ve already stated, the hotel wasn’t big enough to support the convention, but it’s had to move from hotel to hotel because of it’s own dramas.  I’m not on the staff so I can’t be specific, but there’s been tales of drama behind the lines and people leaving and/or stepping down.  But anyway, the obvious size issue caused ridiculous lines for registration, to get into panels, game rooms, the dealer rooms, etc.  The Walk-In Registration had to turn people away at some point after hitting their limits each day.  My boyfriend tried a few times to get into the dealer’s room and gave up because the line was so long.  The game room was very tiny and most of the time too many people were on games so one wouldn’t have a chance.  Some of my friends felt it to be so crowded they didn’t even feel like taking pictures and just didn’t want to try to go into some of the rooms.

Now, I’ve gone to MTAC the last six years and almost every year there seems to be some idiot who destroys hotel property, drinks too much, or someone involves drugs into their con experience.  This year was no different as the rave was shut down again.  I’ve heard it was due to two people over dosing on something.   I just don’t understand how people can’t just come in, dance and have a good time.  This isn’t the streets of Oakland, it’s an anime convention.  And yes, my friends and I have drinks, but we’re adults and have never caused any public disturbance.  By the way, don’t ever lay your hand on a cop….no matter what!  Yes, someone did that this weekend and found themselves on the edge of being arrested.  Idgit…

You wonder why we keep having to find a new hotel for the con and you wonder why the people causing all the problems can’t get it through their idiot skulls that there will be no more convention if we keep having to move around like this.  This all becomes extremely frustrating and at the same time I can imagine it being very difficult to keep people like this out of the convention.  My boyfriend and I actually sat at dinner the other night trying to think of how they can regulate this and we couldn’t come up with any great solutions.  We both agreed, as big anime fans, who actually listen to anime music, that they should have a rave with mostly anime dance music and a little bit of electronic.  I know we’d be happy.  😉

So basically, I loved the hotel and its location.  One thing I didn’t mention was there were some great open areas around the hotel that allowed us to get some great pictures.  The lack of space for the size of the con was what caused most of the problems.  If you really have an opinion, let MTAC know instead of just venting online!  I will too.  They have a survey on their website right now where you can let them know what you think.

Goodnight!

Kat

 

 

GMX 2012

So we’re back from GMX in Nashville and it’s been nice to relax with this being our last convention of the season.  GMX or Geek Media Expo is only a few years old.  It started in 2009 and has been growing at a nice pace every year.  It’s funny to think back to MTAC (Middle TN Anime Convention) when some friends & I were helping to promote what would become Nashville’s first ever multi-fandom convention!  Myself dressed as Cortana from Halo and other friends dressed as Star Wars characters, Battlestar, and other sci-fi characters were brought on stage to give a taste of what was to come.

Yeah, that’s what my Cortana looked like the first time I put her together. Heh..

Now it’s Volume 4 of GMX and the convention has moved to its 3rd hotel, the Franklin Marriott & Cool Springs Convention Center.  Personally, I think this was a massive improvement from last year’s hotel.   The previous hotel had events held up on their 10th floor and then the rest of the convention downstairs.  It was very confusing having events on different floors then room parties on a completely different floor.  This meant more elevator traffic than normal and con goers missing out on events.

The current hotel is more spacious & there is a nice outdoor area in the back.  It was a chilly 43 degrees with lots of wind while con goers and staff attempted to run outdoor events.  

The rooms in this hotel were up to date and also spacious.  Walls were thin though.  Could definitely hear what was going on in other rooms too easily. So high and lows of the con?  I’ll start with the lows even though there weren’t a ton for me.  However there was one big experience that I wasn’t happy about.  The one event I was looking forward to for weeks was the Clocktease Burlesque show.  It was really well done last year and I wanted to support my friends who have worked hard to put it together.  We were in our My Little Pony raver costumes, my boyfriend had his PSY costume on and we were in the long line to get in.  We waited about 25 minutes and when we were about to go in, the gentleman at the door tells us we need wrist bands to get in despite us having our IDs in hand.  Last year the Apparition Abolishersand friends ran the whole event and handled the door.  I felt it was done much smoother last year.  I don’t have any issue getting a wrist band if that’s what’s required, but why was there not someone walking up and down the line telling folks that is what they will need to enter the event?  There was still a lot of people behind us and I had friends who vended all day and we didn’t want to have to wait in the line for a band, then get in the back of the line we were already in so we had to skip it.  I was really bummed, but we ended up having a great time getting photos taken and just having fun together around the con. Highlights!!  I really loved the Steampunk Expo room.  Yeah, I had a mustache ride with my friend Jess!  ;P  I was also able to model for the Steampunk Fashion show!  Chloe Seachord of the Apparition Abolishers ran a Steampunk Contest and we showed off her beautiful creations while the judges tabulated their votes.  Myself and two other ladies (Bettie B Cup and Molotov Clocktease) modeled, while Chloe talked about the outfits construction and how different materials can be recycled to make great costumes.

We had a blast hanging at the 501st Party!  The 501st as in the Midsouth Star Wars Garrison!  Some friends and I got a great photo from the party put up on GMX’s Facebook.  I don’t have that photo here, but I have some Iphone photos.  Heh…

I also loved having the digital gaming room open all night so when we had downtime we could go in there and DDR!  It was so much fun DDRing with my sewing sensei and in costume to boot!!  Friday night we went to check it out and PSY danced it up with sensei.  🙂  They are both a force to be reckoned with in this game!

I completely missed the digital gaming room last year till the last day.  This year I’m sad they didn’t have the arcade game with Dr. Mario and other games in it.  Was looking forward to play that.

So there was more than one great moment for me at GMX this year.   One was walking around with my friend Scott in our Borderlands 2 cosplays.  Scott was Salvador, the Gunzerker and I was Maya the Siren.  I’ve never experienced being in a costume and talking with so many con goers about what I was cosplaying.  The game I mean.  Scott and I talked with so many people about how great the game is or how people who haven’t played should.  We did some major promoting for Gearbox!  😉

I can’t talk about Maya and not mention the awesome airbrush artist who painted my arm!  A friend and fellow costumer who does some great airbrush work and helps out with the Zombie 5K in our area.  His name is Bishop Delaney and you may catch a picture of him on my site in his Lo Pan costume from Big Trouble In Little China.  Check out his Zombie Facebook page here: Click here.  This picture isn’t the best example of the airbrush work, but more pictures are coming!

Finally there was just hanging in our MLP cosplay with friends!  It was great just goofing around, laughing and getting photos taken.  We also did a bit of filming for a video I’m trying to put together.  All around I got much better photos of these two costumes than at Dragon Con.  I’m really excited to see them all!  I’ve been dying to update the FB cover photo.  I’m actually looking forward to making some additional accessories for Maya.  I want her to look as cool as possible.  I’m actually pretty happy with where Fluttershy is right now.  The only issue I had at the con was my wings kept shifting and one little bump made them become crooked.

One last thing!  I want to congratulate my sewing sensei on vending for the first time at GMX this past weekend.  She was worried, but we all had great confidence in her and she did well.

So that’s my report!  It’s always takes me a while, but I eventually get my con and cosplay posts up there!  🙂  Thanks for reading and stayed tuned for additional photos to be posted.

-Little Neko

Anime Expo 2012: Part 2

NOTE: If you don’t know what something/someone is or you’re simply interested in something I’m discussing, click on the links found in this post.  They are packed full of useful and fun stuff.  😉  Also I may say AX in this post.  This refers to Anime Expo.

 

So… Anime Expo 2012: Part 2 gets into our Saturday afternoon/night activites and beyond.  🙂 In case you’re just tuning in, this and the previous post are about our trip to Anime Expo in Los Angeles, CA.  It’s the largest anime convention in the country!  Please see part 1 of this story here: http://littleneko.com/2012/07/anime-expo-2012-part-1/So Saturday afternoon at the con: Me dressed as Eureka (from Eureka Seven), Donnie dressed as Dr. Mario (from YOU BETTER KNOW WHAT FROM), Jess dressed as Dr. Girlfriend and my other friends (Brandi, Bill and Jimmy) dressed as the characters from Appleseed.  Donnie and I took a few photos in the hotel room and headed out to the conventions to see the cosplayers and take some photos there.  We didn’t see the Appleseed gang till later in the afternoon since their costumes of epic proportion had them in photoshoots and just swarmed with people!  What, I’m allowed to brag on my friends?!  😉  We meet up with Jess and I think for some reason people thought her and I were a costume group cause they kept wanting our picture together.

I think it was because of the similar style dress and buttons.  Lol. So I wanna talk a little bit about Danny Choo.  If you don’t know, Mr. Choo is an amazing individual that decided to follow his love for Japan and it’s geeky quirks like anime & manga.  He started out working for his dad’s shoe making factory in the UK, then worked for Microsoft where he had a very chooshy title and salary.  He decided to take a risk most would not and leave his very secure and comfortable job to move to Japan.  I won’t give every single details, but lets just say he started at the bottom, learned Japanese and worked hard to become a very successful person.  Someone I definitely look up to.  I found Danny through the internet a few years back.  Probably searching for some anime item or cosplay help.  🙂  I’ve loved his site and his message ever since.  He truly wants to connect Japan with the rest of the world and share what he loves about this place.  He constantly posts photos and informative material on his site in a stylish way.  Danny has many titles, but in particular created his own small media company called Mirai Inc.

Mirai has also become a character! A very popular character I might add!  She is Danny’s mascot, she’s been placed on all sorts of media and products.  She’s also become a figure & has had spots in different anime.  Right now an anime series with Mirai is in the works.  We were able to see some art work drawn for the anime and it looks very promising! At Anime Expo, Saturday afternoon, we were able to go to Danny’s panel.  He was also one of the guests of honor this year at the con.  His panel was entertaining, funny and inspiring.  He talked about all of his projects, the story of his journey to Japan and what he’s working on now.  He also wanted to have a more serious moment and talk about how important it is to take a risk and follow your passions.  I regret not being able to attend his second panel on Monday.  I really would have liked to get an autograph or at least shake his hand.

So when dinner time rolled around we all shed our costumes and went to Rock N’ Fish for dinner.  It was very yummy!  I tend to take pictures of my food if you wanna take a peek!

Adding two of my favorite ingredients together: Garlic + Shrimp = Crazy Delicious!!  Hmmmmmmmmmmm. So movin’ on.  We then headed on back to the convention center and watched the Masquerade.  Masquerade is a pretty big event at the con.  It’s where cosplayers participate on stage in skits they created or they simply go up and strut their stuff to display their cosplay.  They also showed and announced the AMV (Animed Music Video) winners.  What are AMV’s:  click here.  I’m glad we went cause it really brought back that realization of how creative people can be.  Yes, there is going to be some skits that don’t make any sense and there will be some costumes that could use some help.  There were also some skits that made no sense that I found hilarious.  Some really impressive costumes I appreciate all the effort put in.  We can all be judgmental sometimes, but I’m sure it’s difficult to make a group of costumes, then attempt to come up with a skit for those costumes and perform said skit in front of a huge auditorium of people. There was an intermission where they had the cosplays come out and dance on stage while Ryo Horikawa, voice actor for Vegeta from Dragon Ball, performed a few songs!  Unfortunately I don’t watch Dragon Ball so I didn’t recognize him, but it was still cool seeing him perform.  Still, my favorite part of the Masquerade was seeing the AMV’s!  I now know I LOVE AMVs.  I would love to learn video editing, as I mentioned before and I would love to learn how to make an AMV.  Here is the video for Best Comedy!  🙂

It was like the AMV’s were made for Donnie and I this year!  The videos included Nichijou and Anohana which we both liked.  Donnie has also watched Full Metal Panic which was part of a comedy video.  🙂  I tried to find a list with Anime Expo’s AMV winners online, but couldn’t find it surprisingly.  Maybe Anime Expo will update their site soon.

So as we moved on to Sunday at AX we got ourselves some grub and the ladies and I got into our Queen’s Blade cosplay!  It was so much fun because we had a great response to the costumes!  Now you know Queen’s Blade is from an adult anime so our characters are pretty risque.  Lol.  I was Elina, Jess was Menace and Brandi was Melona.  Jess and Brandi found it pretty hilarious when I would lead the way through the crowd and everyone’s eyes would all drop to breast level, as I walked by.  LOL.  Yes… my chest piece could move mountains!  I thought it would be fun and appropriate for this type of anime to have the ridiculously large breasts.  Not to mention accurate to thecharacter!  😉

Queen's Blade - Taken by Eurobeat Kasumi Photography

The picture above was taken by Eurobeat Kasumi Photography!  He took the best photos of our Queen’s Blade that I’ve seen so far.  Please check him out at: Click here!

The last day of the con is always sad and this was no exception.  We got a little Starbucks and took one last walk through the dealer’s room and finally saw the artist alley as well.  I found some beautiful art to frame on my wall.  We took one last look at the cosplayers and had to rush back to the hotel to get everything out by check out time.  It’s hard for me to get used to a con with no late night life.  There were people still wandering around at night, but not as much going on.  We are used to our cons in Nashville and Atlanta going all through the night.

Finally, to soften the blow of leaving the con, we headed down to Aneheim to have fun at Disneyland!  Now that’s a way to end an amazing trip!  😉  Well, I’m going to get this posted since it’s already very late!  I have already gotten caught up in working on new costumes for Dragon Con and I tend to put everything on the back burner when it comes to the costuming.    Sorry!!  Once again, we have so many great photos of our trip that I will get another post set up for!  For now there is already photos up on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramenempire/sets/72157630522005424/

Good night!

-Little Neko