Monday, July 29, 2013

Fandom Fest (and Yes, Record Shopping)

Because of the experience we had this weekend, I'm going to stray a bit from my normal topic here, but because I love you, I'll get back to it a bit before I go.  Louisville, KY hosted Fandom Fest this weekend, for those of you who aren't familiar, Fandom Fest is like ComicCon but with more stuff.  It includes a lot of horror movies things (it used to only be horror movies) and anime and steam punk and lots of cool stuff.  Anyway, this year it turned into a colossal clusterfuck and our little corner of the internet is swirling with negativity about the event.  In light of all that, I just wanted to share our Fandom Fest experience this weekend. 
It all started with them moving the Kevin Smith/Jason Mewes event to Wednesday night because of a scheduling conflict.  This was not the fault of the organizers and I don't blame them for it.  That evening, while much too late for a work night (again, not their fault or problem) was fun and I'm honestly glad it was moved because if it had stayed on Saturday I'm sure the organizers would have figured out some way to screw it up.  We picked up our prepaid tickets on Thursday after work and that went fine.  We spotted a couple guests in the lobby and it seemed like a good start to the convention.  Friday we arrived around 4pm because that was our best guest as to when the vendor hall should be opening.  One program said noon, one said 4pm, one said was hard to tell.  There was a HUGE line forming to enter the vendor hall.  A security guard told us that only VIPs were allowed in currently, which seemed odd since it was already 20 minutes after it was supposed to open to everyone, but still we went over to the Convention Center to check out that hall.  Again, another line.  This time the people there were bragging about being in line for 2+ hrs and the vendors there weren't even finished setting up so we went BACK over to the hotel and went down the escalator into the back of the vendor hall.  After browsing there, we went back across the pedway (AKA the pizza oven) and finally made our way upstairs to the main vendor hall.  Here we found all the comic book artists and authors and some celebrities and other artists and various vendors...basically the stuff we wanted to look at and spend our money on. 
Now you have to understand that we only found this stuff because we have been to other conventions (namely the ones put on by Wizard World in Columbus, OH and New Orleans) and we KNEW there had to be more than what were finding.  There were NO signs anywhere.  The volunteers has absolutely no idea where anything was or even which building things were happening in.  I've seen a lot of people saying that the staff and volunteers were rude and, in all honesty, we didn't have that experience.  Everyone we encountered was friendly enough (of course, some more than others) but they just weren't any help at all.  I don't blame them for this.  They can't tell me what they don't know.  I felt sorry for them that they were thrown into this huge group of people and given absolutely nothing to work with.  That's not fair to the convention goers or to the volunteers and the organizers should be ashamed of themselves for doing that to them. 
We came back on Saturday and brought my Husband's cousin to see Stan Lee.  We had purchased a photo op ticket for him but he had to work in the morning so we came and had our picture taken with Mr. Lee.  We arrived about 10am for the 11am photo op and when I tell you that we were greeted with mass chaos, it really is an understatement.  The VIPs were lined up in the hallway, that much had been accomplished, but everyone else was just in a group milling around.  An hour before the photo op they hadn't even BEGUN to line up the general admission photo op people yet.  Myra Daniels (one of the "organizers") began telling a crew person that they needed a bullhorn to announce where people needed to line up, etc.  Seriously??  At 10am on SATURDAY?  DURING the convention...THAT'S when you figure out that you're going to need a bullhorn to announce when/where to line up?  What about some ropes and signage to get/keep people in line?  Holy crap.  Anyway, finally a lady with a "crew" t-shirt and a healthy set of lungs began yelling out for Stan Lee photo-ops and gathering people in a line.  We lined up quickly (but honestly only got in that line because I heard Myra talking about getting people lined up and followed her around until the line got formed) and got our picture.  But I've seen reports of people who waited 4+ hours to have their picture taken with Stan Lee and it never happened.  I have no idea where those poor people where, but I can easily see how they got told to stand somewhere in some line by some clueless crew person and just left there.  So sad.  We spent all of our time in line trying to help people who couldn't even figure out where to buy tickets or find the vendor halls and couldn't find a crew person who could help them.
Later when we finally found the Stan Lee Q&A (after being told it was in 3 different rooms) it was also not lined up yet, but that was okay because it got pushed back...another changed in the schedule which was not announced at all to anyone.  So we formed a line for that too and waited.  It was so frustrating that we, the attendees, had to form the lines and tell each other where to stand and what we were waiting for and where things where happening and at what time and the crew/volunteers/security just stood there and looked at us because they had no idea if what we were saying was even correct information.   There were panels that were moved, rescheduled and flat out cancelled for no apparent reason.  In the lowest move the weekend, the organizers had the absolute balls the tell a room full of people that Colin Baker's panel was cancelled through some fault of Mr. Baker's when he was in his room waiting to be called down!!  That is just disgraceful.  I understand that we will never come back to Fandom Fest, but I hope he doesn't let the experience color his opinion of all of Louisville/Kentuckiana.  As has always been our experience at conventions, the celebrities and vendors at this convention were gracious and friendly and it was awesome to see them.  I can't imagine what it's like to do what they do for their fans at these events all weekend (of course, hugging strangers and kissing babies is really not my thing, so it would be unbelievably exhausting for me to do that sort of thing for 3 days solid) and for the organizers to treat them like crap is nothing less despicable.
Afterwards, we even stopped at the store in Louisville of one of the vendors and the owner expressed some concerns about the event.  Turns out the vendors were told some things that were misleading (or altogether untrue) and they weren't satisfied with their interaction with the organizers either.  Sounds like to me that we need to keep having a convention in Louisville, we just need to have someone else run the thing.  Luckily for us we've been to other conventions so we knew what a fiasco this was right from the very beginning.  Had this been our first experience, I'm not sure we would have ever gone to another one.  As it is, I'm not sure we'll ever go back to this one because frankly, I don't want to give the organizers another penny of our money, which sucks because it is so close to home.  Anyway, in the end, we managed to have a good time but only because we have a knack for having fun in a face of adversity.  :)  We bought some cool stuff, for instance this wire angel made by a local artist:
and this zombie gnome that (even those he's solid concrete) will decorate our hearth...

 and of course I couldn't pass up this catbat print, because for some reason every time we go to one of these things, I get something cat related...
After all that craziness, we went record shopping to sooth our souls (or, you know, my soul at least) and we finally got to stop at Better Days Records in the Highlands.  Seems like there is never a place to park there, or we always pass the place up and traffic is too crazy to try to turn around and go back, or some other force of nature has always stopped us from going there.  But today we were determined and where there's a will there's a way and what do you know, we got in there and on the back wall in the rack I found THIS!!

 Matt Nathanson's newest release "Last of the Great Pretenders" on vinyl!!  I was so excited to find an actual physical copy of a Matt Nathanson record on vinyl right here in Louisville that I took like 4 pictures of it.  Yep, the store owner now thinks I'm nuts.  And probably more so because I didn't buy it, but I've already bought it twice so...  If you don't have it yet, buy it, it is some kind of wonderful.  As soon as I wrap my head around the whole thing I'll write it up.
I was also pretty amazed to find a copy of The Mountain Goats' "All Hail West Texas".  Not sure why, just didn't seem like the kind of thing I'd run across so close to home and I was proud of them for stocking it and displaying it prominently.  
Before we left I did buy Jack White's "Blunderbuss" and a Carpenters album (now surely you didn't read all the way down here to start judging me now, did you??) and then grabbed a few out of the $1.00 bin to make an art piece for my treadmill room.  Of course, I grabbed some good stuff like Foghat and Fleetwood Mack and if they play I won't use them, but if they're all scratched to piss at least I'll still be able to put them to good use.

1 comment:

  1. I went to Fandom as well, and had a similar experience...I was lucky in some ways, but saw the collapse of the con all around me. Here's my blog post of the experience:

    Here's to a better con with different people in charge next year.