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I am at this moment in an airport. By the time I finish, I'll be at home.

Otakon happened again, and was great fun with only a little soreness.

The consensus for last year seemed to be "That was awesome!"

The consensus for this year seemed to be "That was fast (and also we all realize we're aging)!"

And as usual, I took enough pictures for everyone.


The first rule of Otakon.

After some preliminary chilling, Red showed off parts of her Princess Mononoke costume. Brilliantly done, as later pictures will show.

Kallen waves hello as my Korra Count hits 1.

Drinks were had among the sushi.

Zaph drew another masterpiece on a placemat. Her work is the penis, not the dragon.

Hello, delicious tonkatsu. It's been a while. You are the best way to eat pork.

I procured my traditional vacation tortoise -- jasper, this time -- and we set off for the pre-reg line in the relative cool of evening.

The badges reflected the official programming for the weekend. And also a crab.

On the way back to the hotel, a journalist stopped to interview some ponies.


I reprised my role as Rattmann. I didn't forget the cube this time.

BD's Bad Box-Art Mega Man took us by surprise. There would be another one later on, but it wasn't as well-constructed.

I've seen Em's face in the shadows and other places I wasn't supposed to be. Ultimately he was bested by a foam dart.

Red's Princess Mononoke was excellent, largely due to the quality of her mask. But the fake blood didn't hurt the effect one bit.

The group (not pictured: newcomer Mango) passed some Hatoful Boyfriend rejects and found some reading material strewn upon the street like their droppings.

Classy Lady Riddler was among the first cosplayers I saw.

Korra Count: 2.

Pinkie Pool had some unconventional weaponry.

Some Disney villains overlooked the indoor fountains.

I couldn't get five steps in without finding a hundred of these.

Yugo from Wakfu took me by surprise, but I should've anticipated him.

Zaph carried a sign advertising free Emergency Cosplay Supplies -- pins and tape and things. Within ten minutes the sign would be gone, confiscated by security for being solicitation. Luckily, in that tiny window she managed to help out one cosplayer.

This Tali would prove to be one of many Talis.

Canti drew some attention.

My Korra Count was up to "several" by the time I saw this one in the Avatar State.

Allison met a friend and acquired Steam-Powered Giraffe fanart.

The Legend of Groose.

Princess Celestia was pretty tall, even considering her shoes. There was also an Applejack nearby.

I didn't expect to see Kal'Reegar, but there he was, bring awesome.

April and Casey, from a different era.

This Black Mage's eyes lit up.

More ponies. Bonus points for an excellent Zecora.

Still more ponies. Twilight Sparkle recognized my costume right away and requested pictures. I was happy to oblige.

Any fictional character is welcome at Otakon.

The Dallases.

This duo carried mirror portals. The effect was very nice in person.

Fight the power!

Billy Mays lives, proving that commercials are our last truly unifying mass media experience.

I saw a little girl run up to Disney's Belle and ask for a picture. Belle happily stopped for a pose. On Sunday I would see a similar situation with a Snow White cosplayer, but unfortunately I took no picture of that.

Zaph and I stopped by one of the video rooms to see the Dragon Age movie. It was... all right, as Japanese-produced(?) CGI video game movies go, but it had some glaring flaws which I would describe at length if I were a fan of the franchise.

Dimentio visited the third dimension and landed in Baltimore. Poor guy.

Chell in a dress. That is all.

I only caught these Dragonball Z guys from behind a floor down.

A mysterious man stopped by the information table.

Spess merin.

A fine random zora.

Super fighting spandex.

Pinkie Pie was on the phone with her sugar dealer.

Zaph and I progressed from Dragon Age to The Secret World of Arietty, and after a couple false starts we enjoyed the whole thing.

I discovered my doppleganger as he exited the room.

A Scout without a Medic.

Shepard came with a paragon stripe and another Tali.

"Ha, my fans think I'm with my partner making more music right now."

The Man brothers, Mega and Proto. They lit up the night.

First Twinrova I've seen. Bonus points!

Zaph told me to take a picture of this guy, so I did. I assume he's an assassin?

Three Ghibli movies in four costumes.

Kit and Kat were down in Artist's Alley, very well done. They even had feline contact lenses.

Airbender Korra advanced my Korra Count to "a lot."

Dark Link and Normal Impa.

Asami came with her neat stun-glove. One of a few.

Agent Coulson asked me to tell Captain America to sign his cards.

As if that Bratz mask weren't arresting enough, the person underneath was clearly male when he spoke.

As a cosplay option, Merida is a huge boon for curly redheads.

A tattooed car was on display down there, technically part of the art auction. The starting bid was $40,000. I declined.

Bellatrix LeStrange was on staff.

I think these Shiva sisters from FF13 could have transformed if they wanted to. The costumes were that detailed.

I saw two Freyas over the weekend. This one was the clear winner to me, due mostly to the face work.

Protoman looks good in a corset.

I forgot who turned this city on. I forgot who plugged this city in. Wily was offended.

Zaph, Mango and I went off for some lemonade before a photoshoot I wanted to attend. Along the way we passed a group of Power Rangers (and one putty).

Alucard's dog arm could move its mouth.

I caught the Valve shoot a bit late, but not late enough to contribute. Among the many were Potato GLaDOS, a lot of Chells, and John Freeman (who, lest you've forgotten, was Gordon Freeman's brother). A Pyro also had an inflatable unicorn, thus proving that Valve craft-fans will stop at nothing for accuracy.

Loto, a Half-Life 2 civilian, and Sailors Uranus and Neptune were down in Artist's Alley when I returned to pick up a surprisingly early commission.


Peter Beagle had a highly visible spot near the entrance of the Dealer's Room this year. I only caught him once. Here he is examining his lunch.

The Funimation booth was pushing Panty and Stocking with an appropriate attraction: Panty doing a constant pole dance.

I would've enjoyed having these versions of X and Zero, but I couldn't justify their $40+ prices to myself.

Uncle Iroh had some arresting eyes.

Enjoy Everything.

Nadia and Canti hung around outside the Dealer's Room exit.

Dinner was at Hooters, but scheduling issues made things less than smooth. Still, we assembled and ate while the Olympics had their opening ceremonies. Maids, Voldemort, Mary Poppins, Mr. Bean -- you know it all. Allison had ducked out to the room to watch them with sound on. She filled us in as the countries marched through, one by one.

Oh Canada.


Saturday began with Allison showing off her circuitry leggings.

I don’t know who these samurai are, but I thought they looked neat.


Various puellae and their contractor.

Lady Starscream.

Otakon had been just perfect for her. The kind of day of which she'd dreamed since she was small.

Connection made.

I expected to see a lot of Korra-related cosplayers on Saturday, given the photoshoot that day. This equalist was the first I saw.

Hi, she’s Daisy (with her familiar).

EVA-01 awoke.

Yet another group of humanized ponies made itself distinct by having a Discord endcap.

The Ponyo family.

Onion Knight was among the many fine Final Fantasy alumni.

Lightning (right) attested to Serah (left) and others in earshot that she hated the FFXIIIs and didn’t even like Lightning as a character, but she loved her armor from XIII-2. It showed.

Moments later I happened across a truly excellent Wakka. I felt he was exactly as great as the Freya from Friday.

The Outer Sailors. Bonus points: judging by some public displays of affection, Neptune and Uranus were a legitimate couple. (Though I can’t imagine any pair of ladies who aren’t together choosing to cosplay them.)

I enjoyed this Kallen. Maybe it was the black outlines.

Squid Girl and Supporting Cast Girl.

As I hung around the traditional OtaRockman meeting place and kept an eye out for incoming Mega Man people, along came Derpy.

Avatar Moms.


Shepard colored her armor for the occasion.

I actually saw Ice Cold Water Guy as Mags and I walked to the hotel on Thursday, but I never got a picture of him. Luckily, he was famous enough to warrant cosplay homage.

Captain Photobomb.

Ho-oh had some neat wings.

Baby Mario was shy of the camera.


The small Mega Man group began growing as the one from Star Force arrived. Pluto came along soon, as did BD and his non-boxart double.

He’s gonna break you, Mega Man.

Keep quiet.

Unfortunately, the OtaRockman group was on the smallish side compared to previous years. If you ask me, its attendance is inversely proportional to Capcom’s apathy for the series; one shrinks as the other grows. Still, the many who were present each enjoyed themselves. Hey, BD and Em: have some closeups.

Lucas was nearby, with the rope snake borrowed from Duster.

Geno kept the SMRPG faith.


I found Belle again, without a young fan this time.

I finished working a puzzle, turned around and these two were standing right the hell in front of me.

A certain Cerberus cheerleader dressed far more sensibly than her character.

Chell and her co-op counterparts.

The Avatar photoshoot would take place outdoors, so I waited indoors. There I found an Aang and the Water Tribe siblings.

The shoot itself impressed me by its smooth organization and operation. The many onlookers and participants formed a line with their bags, stepped back and followed the shouted directions of the sole General Bumi. She really had her act together, notepad and all, and got things over and done within half an hour.

The Gaang attracted quite a lot of attention. Fire Nation youth did too.

Water Tribe.

Aang posed with his best buddy.

Fire Nation represent! Both Irohs were excellent.

Toph, Toph, Toph, and Toph (left to right).

His cabbages!

The Korra cast came together in great number.

The adults of Korra. See that Lin on the right? Her shoes were flat. She’s 6’ 6”, easy. I was... impressed, yeah, let’s go with impressed.

The most popular Korra outfit was her default, but I really enjoyed the 1920s Fanart Korra myself.

The Fire Ferrets.

The yell came out for non-Fire Ferret pro benders. Since there is exactly one that anyone cares about, up walked three of him.

Amons and a politician. Spoilers by proximity.

General Bumi. I honestly didn’t know that’s who she was cosplaying until she called herself out there. She really did an excellent job at organizing the shoot. I want to make my appreciation clear.

The only Kyoshi Warrior. Possibly Kyoshi herself.

The Aang Family.

Bei Fongs everywhere. Note the Tall Lin again. She was... yes, impressively tall.

Several Asamis represented the Sato family, being that there were no Hiroshis in sight.

Among the Makos was a guy holding a certain list seen in Penny Arcade.

Infiltration Korra.

Waterbenders. Careful, spoilers.

Equalists and equalist-costumed.

Bolins, with several plush Pabus and one bouquet.

Seriously, Tall Lin was tall. She’s one of the very few people I later recognized out of costume. Perhaps I should've gotten her name...

White Lotus Iroh watched with others on the sidelines as the shoot continued. The event was winding down, so I made my way out, but not before meeting the cabbage merchant again.

Down in the Dealer’s Room, one of the many awesome yet expensive things was the Hyrule Historia book. I wanted it, but then again I want many things I can’t justify buying. Such as Miyamoto's sword and shield.

Shepard and Kasumi were down there, searching for a greybox.

Fran and her sister. At least those eighty hours of FFXII taught me who they are.

He was Otakon’s reckoning.

I flagged down an excellent Kefka on the way from the dealers to the artists.

Riza Hawkeye’s back tattoo was magnificently accurate down to the burn scars. Very well done.

Artist’s Alley, El Dorado, same thing.

Commander Shepard carried her one true love.

There were a lot of great Final Fantasy people this year. Terra was among them. I found her in the middle of a sales pitch by a slightly creepy robotic-cat-ears salesman. By the way: robotic cat ears are a thing now. They move by that sensor on his forehead, somehow. The first time I saw someone else wearing them in the hall, I thought it was a weird new Bluetooth headset thing.

Fuck us! We’re all killing him!

A photographer took great effort in posing Pinkie Pie against a backdrop of buildings to his satisfaction. As a completely amateur photographer myself, I know the importance of getting a shot just right.

Tiny Radical Edward.

I took this picture of Booster Gold for my sister. You’re welcome.

The group went out to Five Guys for dinner, but Zaph and I couldn’t stay since the Mass Effect photo shoot was coming up. I paused long enough in the middle of buying fries to view the visitors’ corkboard.

Compared to the Avatar photoshoot, the Mass Effect shoot was much less organized. It was intended to start by the indoor fountains, but an unexpected Marvel group nudged the Mass Effect people to the escalators. Zaph and I found Garrus, Tali and Liara while waiting for others to arrive.

Nearby were some Panties, with a surprise Final Fantasy IX tertiary character.

An excellent Tali took off her helmet. She got an infection immediately, but it was so worth it.

More Shepards began accumulating. In short order they had a decent spot set up, but no one seemed to be taking initiative; they were without their General Bumi, and the clock was ticking to a massive Valve shoot in the very same place.

Zaph and I seemed to get the same idea at the same time. If no one was in charge, well, we’d take the job. It had to be us. Someone else might get it wrong.

We yelled and waved and called up what character shots seemed the most interesting of who was present. The group, various Shepards, Shepards and quarians, asari, pilots with brittle bone disease, men, ladies, even some standoffs and Femshep-on-Garrus action.

It was at about this time that the excellently-done male Shepard asked Zaph and I to hold off a bit and wait for more people who were coming. “Sure,” we said. “Who’s coming?” Oh, his girlfriend as Tali. Well hey, cool. When was she due to come? Oh, maybe 15 minutes. Very well. It’s just a shame no one’s in charge so we could get this organized better, huh?

“I’m in charge of it,” said Shepard, with the sort of smile that indicated it was not his choice. News to us. I apologized and said I just wanted to help with the shouting. It turned out that he himself wasn’t the organizer; his absent Tali girlfriend was. She was running very late, but wanted everyone to hold up and do nothing until she could appear alongside the present Garrus whom she really wanted to meet.

So we stood around. Some danced. Others peeled off for individual photographers. As the uneventful minutes dragged on, some of the group just walked away, since, well, they had places to be.

Zaph and I waited, feeling responsible for having taken the slackened reins in the first place. Valve people started assembling nearby, drawn to the Pyro’s unicorn. They grew and absorbed the group’s space, pushing everyone to the stairs by necessity. Eventually Zaph and I had enough of waiting and just left the remaining group, citing places of our own to be.

The mystery Tali did not appear, even an hour after her own event started. I’m sure there must have been extenuating circumstances, but compared to General Bumi, she got it wrong.

Superman’s laser vision upon the group seemed appropriate.

We headed to Artist’s Alley again to pick up yet another commission. There I found a certain artist with whom my sister is familiar. Hey Laura, doesn’t that sketchbook look familiar?

Arietty and Spiller were present nearby, complete with props, as was another pleasant Ghibli figure.

There she is!

I would later learn that this person is from Homestuck.

That night, we lazed about the hotel room and watched my copy of Summer Wars. I was glad to share it with everyone.


The group awoke at a reasonable time and headed to breakfast. Along the way, bottles of cleaning fluid warned us not to drink them. I guess there had been problems in the past.

Breakfast was in a classy hotel restaurant at a classy table. I ate entirely too much, but damn it the buffet came out to over $20 so I made the most of it. Not pictured: a tumbler full of protein smoothie and another bowl of several cereals at once. That cinnamon roll was amazing, as was the view.

Back in the room, we passed around Red’s 3DS for a couple rounds of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy each. I want that game now. And also a 3DS.

Allison, Em, Mags, Zaph and I scoured the Dealer’s Room for anything we couldn’t live without and anything pretty that we could. It was educational, too. I never knew mustache glasses were a thing.

One more visit to the artists netted me one more commission and one more Toph. Allison picked up a tiny sentry.

There were still more Final Fantasy people, which makes me wonder if I missed some enormous franchise shoot.

One more pony lineup assembled near a guy who entertained the crowd with beatboxing.

A nice surprise: Mother 3’s Kumatora.

A flash mob wandered by, incredulously asking everyone in song how they could possibly make a man out of us.

On the way back to the hotel, Zaph stopped at a psychic reader who gave terrible advice. It amounted to “stay with your awful controlling made-up boyfriend you told me about.” Five dollars worth of nonsense.

At the hotel itself, we had an unusual problem. With each of us being conciliatory to our friends, we all wanted to do something as a group yet nobody felt an aggressive need to push for one thing or another. Ultimately we compromised: we all took to lounging in outdoor chairs in the hotel’s tower-shaded and well-groundskept courtyard before swimming in the hotel pool and heading to Hard Rock Café.

We passed Baltimore’s World Trade Center. Since we last visited, the area had some new items: some wreckage from the more famous one, cement blocks from the Pentagon, and some small monoliths representing the crashed plane in Pennsylvania. Nothing like disaster relics to draw the tourists.

An artist was hard at work outside the Barnes & Noble adjacent to Hard Rock. We perused the periodicals and went to dinner. Em stacked things on Zaph, Mango folded straw wrappers together, and Zaph stuck them up her nose. Good times. I also plucked a cricket from the floor and escorted it outside. The front hostess complimented me for the tiny rescue and my friends said I had a Buddhist temperament, which I consider very high praise.

Indeed, Barnes & Noble plaque. Indeed.

Mango had to go to work on Monday, and since Zaph was her ride, both of them left Sunday night during an old episode of Family Guy. Hugs were had and given energetically.


Red and BD left in the wee hours of the morning. I awoke just groggily enough to semi-hug goodbye from bed and bid them farewell.

About ten hours ago as of writing this sentence, Em’s train arrived and he too departed amidst hugs.

Did you know Baltimore streets spawn Jack Chick tracts in the presence of a weekend full of tourists? It’s true.

Allison, Mags and I gathered or ate the remaining snacks and she took a taxi home, but not before requisite goodbye hugs. Mags and I left the way we came: a long walk and a light rail ride to the airport. We split off in the terminal, and now here I am, with my luggage and all my commissions.

I now have about a half-hour before my plane leaves from Dallas for home, so here’s where I hit Save and gather my cords. I’ll affix photo links to appropriate words by and by.

I’m feeling very... mellow, about this whole weekend. Mellow in an immensely good way. Not a drop of post-con depression. Another year, another fine few days with some of my best friends.

I’m glad I could host the hotel this year. Maybe we can get some more people along next time.

We shall see.
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