My Insane Adventure At TrotCon 2013 · 8:50am
(Warning: 3400 words - you have been warned, lol)
Alright, let me regale you with the best three days I've ever had as a Brony.
Day 0 – Pre-Con
12:00pm – Bloomington, IN
As I'm wrapping things up at work, I'm becoming more and more excited at what I'm hoping will be one of the most fun weekends I'll have in years.
Then, I'm hit my some of the most severe stomach cramps I've had in awhile. Bad enough where I couldn't walk upright. I'm immediately worried, as I had a sliver of doubt that the chicken I had Wednesday night was not fully cooked.
The cramps vary in intensity through 2:30, at which point I call Byron and tell him that I may not be comfortable in the car with four other people for 220 miles. An hour later, I call him, and confirm; I tell him to keep going, and that I would drive myself once the cramps subsided. Come 4:45, I am packed and ready to go. After some cursing at my GPS, I am on my way.
8:45pm – Columbus, OH
Not being aware that the Sheraton's only parking option was valet, I spend 10 minutes circling the hotel before pulling into the valet lot to confirm that I have to relinquish my car. I managed to beat Byron and company there by 15 minutes. By this time, the cramps have worn off entirely, and I believe I'm going to be fine. We meet, shake hands, and get settled in our rooms.
Not too much longer, the alcohol is unloaded, and Cards Against Humanity is busted out among the five people in the room. Having never played it, I am given a crash course in one of the funniest card games I have ever played. If you are not familiar, it's a competition to see who has the darkest sense of humor. As the author of Letters, I thought I would have an edge.
Nope. These bronies bested me at my own game, as I only scored one point the entire night. More people start to arrive, and before you know it, we have 15 people in our room playing Cards Against Humanity.
As you can imagine from the laughter, we got a noise ordinance strike and had to take it outside.
Group photo, right as I told everyone to yell out best pony. Varied results.
After Cards, we walked down a block and a half to Dirty Frank's, a local hot dog joint. I got a some Chicago Dogs. When everyone got their order, we went back to the fountain and ate.
Afterwards, as things had not quite gotten started yet, I sat in the lobby with my iPad. A couple passersby complimented my Rainbow Dash hoodie and asked where I got it. I told them it was handmade, and unfortunately, that the creator had since disappeared with over $800 in unfulfilled commissions, mine included.
I ended up hitting the floor (literally, I opted for the floor) around 2:30.
Friday – Day 1
5:30am – The Food Poisoning
I woke up abruptly at 5:30 feeling ill. Everyone was sound asleep at this point, and the room was pitch black. I am rarely sick to the point of vomiting, like no more than once or twice a year. But when it comes on, I feel that it's going to happen.
I sit in the bathroom for a few minutes before turning the bath on and filling it halfway, then laying in there and turning the shower head on. I kid you not, I lay there for two and a half hours, as it's the only thing that is holding the nausea off. Come 8:00, I am fairly certain that this was not going to be pretty. Sure enough, at 8:30, the shower no longer did any good, and up came last night's hot dogs. I was pretty sure whatever had happened was from Wednesday night's chicken, because no one else who went to get hot dogs got sick.
I was now deathly afraid of my entire weekend being demolished. The last time I was sick to the point of vomiting was seven months ago, where I was wiped out for four days. I grabbed my pillow, blankets, and iPad and laid in the bathroom, watching ponies, feeling like death, and grabbing sleep in 5-10 minute increments while I throw up four more times in the next three hours.
Around noon, I finally finish vomiting, my stomach most likely empty. I feel well enough to slowly walk around the room, and eventually decide to go down to at least get my Sponsor badge. Coming back upstairs, I decide that if I have to sacrifice Friday in the room to be ready for my panels on Saturday, so be it. My diet consisted of sips of Sprite and crackers. I occasionally left the room, for anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour at a time, seeing how long I could go around without feeling sick.
Rachel put it best:
“Your supposed to get violently ill after a con, not during.”
But she checked up on me almost every hour, to the point where I had to tell her to go enjoy herself and stop spending her time coming up here.
5:00pm – Opening Ceremonies and Dave Polsky Q&A 1
Going on roughly three hours of sleep, I manage to get down to the opening ceremonies, and get through all of it without feeling anything. TrotCon's show guests this year were Dave Polsky, a writer from DHX, known for his season 3 episodes Too Many Pinkie Pies and Keep Calm and Flutter On. Peter New, of course, serves as the voice of Big Macintosh.
Peter's entrance was epic. He immediately jumped off the stage and brohoof'd everyone in the front row, then hopped back up on stage and did his trademark Big Mac line “Eeeyup.” He then directed us through a hilarious alternate entrance for his Vine page.
TrotCon 2013 was also Dave Polsky's first con ever, so we were thrilled to have him.
I start to fight off dizzyness, but unfortunately, I only make it through half of Dave Polsky's Q&A panel before I have to retreat to the room once again.
Knowing I'm going to have to treat my stomach as a fragile box all weekend, I immediately write off the Sponsor Spaghetti Dinner. I look at the schedule, and know I really want to get down to Whose Pony Is It Anyway? I catch another batch of sleep, and end up oversleeping by 15 minutes. I make it down there 20 minutes in.
9:20pm – Whose Pony Is It Anyway?
It was very, very funny. Just sucks that they had to keep it PG. But you know what? The best Brony dirty minds can make it around PG. For instance, the Scenes from a Hat game.
Host: “Books from Twilight's private bookshelf.”
Contestant: “The Princess In You”
Got the entire room laughing and applauding.
11:00pm – Peter New Q&A 1
At this point, my stomach is causing me only mild discomfort, although I keep myself aware of the closest bathroom at all times. But it was time for Peter New! He was fresh back from the Sponsor Dinner, holding what he claimed was his seventh drink of the night. This was of course met with much applause.
I know several of you asked me what questions I asked him, and I didn't forget. I was waiting for this.
Me: “If you were given complete creative control over a Big Mac episode, what would happen?”
This was met with enthusiasm from the 100+ bronies also in attendance. He first jokingly said that he would bring in every other cartoon and game character he voiced, but then in a more serious manner, said he would like a farm episode following Big Mac around his routine, accompanied by his internal dialogue. He then offered us a humorous sample of said internal dialogue.
Peter: “Hm. Should I buck the tree.....or not buck the tree? What'll happen if I don't? Would the world come to an end?”
My second question came later:
Me: “What is your favorite song, either in Pony or Pet Shop?”
Peter: “I'd have to say the one where I was nominated for an Emmy. (If You're A Guy, from Littlest Pet Shop). He attempted to recite his verse, but couldn't recall some of the lyrics.
I retire to the hotel slightly early, the lack of sleep having finally caught up with me.
Saturday – Day 2
Now for those unfamiliar, if you absolutely have to go only one day to a convention, Saturday is almost always THE day to go. It's when the most stuff happens, and it's almost always when the rave is, and then Sunday is the wind down day where everyone recovers from partying way too hard.
Only Rachel beat us to the punch. I heard her throwing up in the bathroom at 3:30am. At first I was afraid that she had caught what I had, but then discovered in the morning that it was too much to drink.
But other than that, I was thrilled to have slept through the night. I was still nowhere near 100%. After 6 hours of Sprite and crackers, I went to the hotel's restaurant and braved a bowl of minestrone soup yesterday, and I did the same thing for lunch before Dave Polsky's 2nd Q&A session at 1:30.
11:30am – Autographs
Self-explanatory. Got autographs of both Peter New and Dave Polsky.
1:30pm – Dave Polsky Q&A 2
Each show guest had 2 main Q&A sessions. Q&A 1 was primarily for their work on Friendship Is Magic, and Q&A 2 was for more personal questions, finding out more about them as a person, with more MLP questions if they so desired.
2:30pm – Peter New Q&A 2
I could certainly understand how Dave may have felt awkward at times. This being his first con, and I certainly know how overwhelming bronies may seem at first glance. But Peter was no stranger to the con scene, and knew just how to work the crowd.
Peter: “I think my favorite moment as Big Mac was...was the switcheroo in Ponyville Confidential, where Applejack was so mad where she barely said a word, and Big Mac was the one who just went off on them. I really enjoyed that. I don't know if Dave is still here, but that was a fantastic piece of writing...and he could learn from that.”
Of course, that got the crowd going, and Dave was still there, so they got into a humorous verbal match together during portions of Peter's Q&A.
I snuck another question in as well.
Me: “Favorite Princess, and why?”
Peter: (Without missing a beat.) “Me, because it's me.”
Also met with a roomful of laughter.
After that, I was going to take it easy. I was quickly closing in on the reason I had come here in the first place, and I didn't want to mess my recovering body up at the last minute. So I just took some more pics of awesome cosplayers, chilled in the room a bit, took the tums Rachel had graciously provided, and then went down for showtime.
5:30 – Fanfiction Discussion Panel
So here it was. I was sharing a table with JasonTheHuman, ROBCakeran53, and Pav Fiera, with Byron leading, clad in his full Flufflepuff cosplay. He stroked our chins and fed us a powdered donut one at a time.
If you don't get it. Don't ask. Please.
So we went down the line one by one, introducing ourselves, and what we were most well known for. Jason is pretty much the reason we have the human-obsessed Lyra. Rob needed practically no introduction, having written My Little Dashie, one of the most popular fics in the entire fandom. He views it more as a curse. Pav was very adept at providing Fimfiction with MLP crossovers, and yours truly was there because of Cupcake Chronicles and Letters From A Disgruntled Friendship Student. So I honestly didn't know how much I was going to be able to talk about them, this being a PG panel and all.
We went through how long we had been writing fanfiction, how we became a brony, the weirdest comments we had ever received on our work, and our favorite authors and recommended stories .
Me: “What I like so much about fan fiction is that the bar of quality is the one you set yourself. Rob, you may think of MLD as a curse, but hundreds of thousands of others read it, loved it, and were inspired to start writing because of it.”
He actually mentioned Fluttershy Gets A Papercut before I did.
We then moved onto weirdest comments and compliments.
Me: “For Cupcake Chronicles, what I get all the time is how readers say how seamlessly I merged the Cupcakes canon, show canon, and kept everyone in character. I'm not quite sure how I did that, either. Then with Letters, when I was first starting out, everyone was telling me, 'Dude, you have got to get Tara Strong to read these!'”
That was predictably met with groans and facepalms. Then as we touched on in-character and out-of-character, we generally discouraged OOC, but then Byron pointed out how I had basically broken every character with Letters and it was still hilarious. True, the OOC is what makes Letters what it is.
As the discussions went on, and we approached the second half of the panel, a guy with a JERK shirt comes in. Byron stops the panel where it is, and feeds this guy a powdered donut in the middle of the room in front of everyone, to much laughter. I'm amazed he kept a straight face, and even managed to do Dan's scream afterwards.
As the panel got into the second half, we began to realize that there were no kids in the room, so we got a little more loose with our favorite authors, and “Will you verb my noun?” All in all, it was very fun.
I was absolutely amazed at the turnout. I believe they ran out of chairs and people started sitting on the floor.
7:00pm – How and How Not To Write Great Fanfiction
I'll be perfectly honest. This felt a bit like English class. I personally didn't have a whole lot of input, but gave advice where I could, especially in regards to cliffhanger chapters and prereaders.
Me: “Find as many prereaders as you can. One prereader is only one point of view.”
I didn't badmouth Equestria Daily because Byron did it for me in a much more professional manner than I would have done.
11:00pm – The Horrors of G1
Does this panel really need any explanation?
Didn't think so.
Sunday – Day 3
12:00am – The Overanalyzing MLP Panel
Oh yes. Here was my kind of panel. My over-analyzing of the show was what made Letters the hit it is.
Suffice to say, everyone had so much to say, that there was not nearly enough time in the hour that we had.
1:00am – Video Room
There was some changes in the schedule. The second night of karaoke was canceled, so I went to the video room to watch some Rainbow Dash Presents until Eurobeat Brony's set up at the rave.
2:30am – Eurobeat Brony's Discord
I had never been to a rave before.
Although staying in the room for longer than 10 minutes at a time made me fear for my hearing, singing along with EB and more than 100 other bronies was an adrenaline rush unlike any other.
After that, I finally make my way back up to my room and pass out, but not before setting my phone alarm to get me up in time for the Sponsor VIP Meet.
9:30am – Sponsor VIP Meet
Now so far, I had gotten absolutely no use out of my Sponsor Badge. I was beginning to hear through the grapevine that other Sponsors were feeling they were not getting enough additional value over a normal badge. According to the con book, there were only 50 of us.
However, this morning's event pushed my opinion back into the neutral zone. Normally, a Q&A session was 1 VIP to 75-100 bronies. But here, we amazingly had a 2-6 ratio. That's right. Six sponsors had 90 minutes to pick the brains of Peter and Dave. This was a very enjoyable event for me. It was closer, longer, and felt more drawn out. We even got the opportunity to touch on fanfiction, and why the writer's weren't allowed to read it.
Me: “That's one thing about fanfiction that I just don't get. Why isn't it used? As a fanfiction writer, I know that whenever I sit down to do a new story, I'm not going to have any rights to what I put down.”
Dave explained that it was a legal gray area that most production companies weren't willing to go into. Bottom line is that if the DHX creative crew didn't come up with it, it's not used for the show.
And that's why show writers don't read fan material; so there can be no opportunity for plagiarism, fanfiction or not. I told Dave how more than a year before Too Many Pinkie Pies, how there was a comedy fic posted called Pinkie Pie Watches Paint Dry. Then once the episode aired, everyone flocked to her user page and flooded her with messages telling her that she got into an episode. It was so overwhelming that she left the site.
There was a very humorous discussion on physics in the show, dark matter, and silently judging Peter eat his breakfast. Then it was off to other things while they got ready for their last autograph session.
11:00am – Artist Alley
I had been in here a few times before. I bought a couple of small posters over the weekend. But this third time in here, I was, in the back of my mind, shocked for a moment when Tinker complimented me on the Derpy polo I was wearing. I politely said thanks and was on my way. I had to assume she either didn't see my badge, didn't realize who I was, or perhaps had forgotten about our internet tantrums. For those not in the know, the two of us got into a particularly nasty bout of online drama two months back, and I'll leave it at that. Not going to rehash the past in here. Neither of us are strangers to brony drama anyway. I'll give her this; she absolutely knew her stuff at the convention roundtable. I agreed with absolutely everything I heard her say at that panel.
1:30pm – Littlest Pet Shop With Peter New
Being a relatively new 'Petster', 'Bropet', 'Petshopper' or whatever you'd call an adult fan of Littlest Pet Shop, I was looking forward to finally getting some discussion with Peter on his lead role as the mongoose Sunil Nevla.
I was surprised so see about a dozen people raise their hands when Peter asked who hadn't seen LPS. Of course he encouraged them to check it out. If not, well, what were they doing there?
And I got more questions in!
Me: “Did you guys hope that LPS would pull some bronies over to itself?”
Surprisingly, he said that there was no way to know at the time, because LPS was in production before the Bronies were even a thing. But once the fandom took off, yes, they were certainly hopeful that it would attract the same kind of audience.
He gave the background story on how he came up with the accent for Sunil during a trip to Uganda, then gave us a startling example of the character's scream. Then we waited for people to come running through the doors to see what the devil had happened.
3:30pm – Closing Ceremonies
I'll be quick with this one. The TrotCon 2013 closing ceremonies was a perfect example of how many wonderful people fill the brony fandom. It was filled with tears, cheers, and a whole lot of dancing inbetween. Suffice to say, the final chant said it best:
“2014! 2014! 2014!”
Absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sickness aside, my best three days as a brony.
If I am able, I cannot wait to do it all again next year.