2nd Place, Journeyman Craftsmanship
OMGWTFBBQ Performance Award
PortCon Maine is New England's oldest anime and gaming convention, held annually in southern Maine. The fan-based convention's organizers are committed to maintaining a relaxed, small-convention atmosphere which focuses on promoting socialization among attendees, guests, artists, and performers.
For its seventh year, the convention moved from its long-time home at the Sheraton Hotel and Convention Center in South Portland to the larger Eastland Park Hotel in downtown Portland. The Eastland was a welcome change from the crowded panel rooms and claustrophobic halls of the Sheraton, and the beautiful two-story main event ballroom was a fantastic upgrade in venue for PortCon's masquerade. The contest itself benefited from improved organization and ran more smoothly than last year's event, much to the delight of cosplayers. Layout-wise, however, the Eastland's antique architecture forced PortCon to spread its events out amongst a labyrinth of floors, rooms, and odd corners, which made it difficult for attendees to browse the convention's activities. The narrow staircases also made it challenging for cosplayers with large or complex costumes to access all areas of the convention. However, despite these drawbacks, the new downtown location allowed attendees access to the shops, restaurants, and events going on in the heart of Portland - including watching the city's beautiful Fourth of July fireworks display from the hotel's roof! In addition, the unique and varied architecture of downtown Portland provided cosplayers with a lot of options for taking interesting photos. Overall the change was a good one, and hopefully the convention remains at this location in 2009.
Since PortCon was scheduled over the Fourth of July weekend, I had family celebrations to attend and did not arrive until late Friday. I was glad to be late when I learned CrazyFlower's suitcases had been stolen from outside our door as she was unloading her car. At the time she had hoped it was an accidental mix-up, but her belongings never resurfaced, and she was left without her clothes, toiletries, and half her Ursula costume from The Little Mermaid which she needed for our masquerade skit. Horribly upset, she had spent the day jury-rigging her costume together with items she could find at the nearby Michaels. Yikes! I got into my Tifa costume and met up with friends to attend the karaoke contest where Gale was competing. Many of the entrants were surprisingly good! Kuraudo, Gale and I then walked to a graffiti-covered alley downtown for a photohoot in our Advent Children costumes. That evening we headed to Anime Unscripted, hosted by PatrickD and featuring Jekka, Sketch, and voice actors Michelle Knotz and Bill Rogers. They were hysterical, and wrapped up just in time for us to run up to the hotel roof to join the crowd watching the Portland Fourth of July fireworks explode over the harbor. It was a gorgeous way to wind down the evening!
Saturday morning got into costumes for our Kingdom Hearts skit, "Welcome To Disney Heck," and headed to judging. At the masquerade, we loved the ballroom setup and that we could watch the entire show from the balcony. Ladyhawke and Jekka did a fantastic job hosting, and more groups took the time to prerecord their lines and music which vastly improved both the quality of the sound and the performances. The best addition, however, was Bill Rogers and Michelle Knotz up in the balcony armed with mics playing "Statler and Waldorf" from The Muppet Show commenting on each act. A couple of gems included: "They say the cake is a lie. You know what else is a lie? Saying this show would be good!" And another: "They were doing okay until they almost fell offstage." "They were doing even better before they came ON stage!" The actors were worried people might be insulted, but it was so obviously silly most of us were looking forward to being heckled! From a technical perspective, however, the masquerade was lacking; the room was dark and the stage wasn't well lit making the performers hard to see from the audience. Also the projection screens were set up BEHIND the performers rather than to the sides of them, which made absolutely no sense. Not only did it distract from the action on stage, but performers were constantly either blocking the screen or casting shadows on it, which made projecting the show pointless. Finally, there were some audio flubs, with the wrong track being played, some endings cut off, and inconsistent sound levels.
The quality of the entries was up from previous years, however, and included a black mage riding a life-size chocobo from Final Fantasy, a boy who had built a beautiful forty-pound wooden chest, and the skit, "PortCon Insurance Claim," which had great jokes, excellent voice acting, and was blocked wonderfully. Our skit went well, got some great laughs, and went on to win the OMGWTFBBQ performance award. My Rinoa costume also received a Second Place Journeyman craftsmanship award from the judges, while Crazy Flower deservingly won Best In Show for Ursula. After the show we headed outside with Steve, Michela and Ginger to the stone church across the street for some awesome group photos. After dinner I changed into Midnight Rose, gathered up some glowsticks and headed to the rave. During the first half they had a great song selection - a combination of hip hop and pop music that was awesome to dance to - but then it went downhill, including irritating selections such as "The Hampster Dance" and the "Caramelldansen." When it showed no signs of improving, we rounded everyone up and went back to the room for drinks.
Sunday I wore my new Princess Tutu costume, which came out great! a lot of people didn't recognize my character but they asked me about the anime, so maybe I helped recruit a few more fans! Steve did a small photoshoot with me outside in the square, where I was joined by Dani in her Rue costume. So cute! Andrew was also able to snap a few great pictures of me inside the con before my feet got too tired to pose from wearing pointe shoes around. I also ran into Dagger and her friends as the cast of Scrubs which was fantastic! We then hit up Sketch's prop-making panel; it was cool he got to show off Canti a bit, even if it was only pieces, and the audience seemed pretty interested and asked some good questions. That afternoon we played "Guess What Famous Person Is Stuck On My Forehead" game before heading out - another weekend of ridiculously good times at PortCon!