Friday, July 12, 2019

Matthew's FanimeCon 2019 Report: Part 3 - Day One

Day One of FanimeCon started bright and early, as I wanted to get a workout in before kicking off the convention. But the Marriott exercise room was closed for renovations, so I had to run from the Marriott outside across the convention grounds to the Hilton where I showed them my room key and got access to their exercise room. Between burpees and thrusters as of part of my "Fanime Friday Workout," it felt wonderful getting that in before going between eating way out of my normal diet and walking around until Monday. The best part of my workout was when I got the chance to run through the 2nd floor of the convention center from the Hilton back to the Marriott to finish the workout, running past all the exhibit halls and Stage Zero while it was empty.

One of the many selfies taken over the weekend
As always, nothing is happening until 2pm when Opening Ceremonies kicks off, so for the rest of the morning I'm up in the room doing convention prep, picking up equipment that I was borrowing from a friend, taking some photos, getting Tom into the room, and lunch.

Attendees in front of the FanimeCon merchandise booth
We were able to post up around Stage Zero around 1:30pm with enough time to set up cameras and test out that rented camcorder.

Crowd forming in front of Stage Zero
With Opening Ceremonies starting, it was a repeat of a couple of years ago when it started down on the lobby floor with the Taiko performance. There was an elderly lady with a walker who couldn't leave her seat to watch the show below, and thank goodness Ryan was running a parallel live-stream and was able to show her that was happening. I had asked Stage Zero if they were going to run a camera down to live-stream but from the response I got I don't think they planned for it.

Back up on the stage itself, the ceremonies goes through the usual routine, from the Make-a-Wish honoring past and current recipients to introducing Guest of Honor sprinkled in with some demonstrations from Black and White Ball and FaniMaid.

Make-a-Wish Foundation handing out gift bags to their recipients
Wendell chilling in the background
Black and White Ball demonstration
Guest of Honor Chris Patton

FaniMaids doing that one dance from that one anime
That was until Aya Hirano made her appearance, then everyone exclaimed "WE'RE NOT WORTHY!"

We're still not worthy of her presence
Everything is now open, and we make our first rounds through the Dealers Hall and Artists Alley. It felt like deja vu in both of these halls as the layouts and vendors seemed all the same except for merchandise for new anime and an expanded food court. I had my heart set on Azur Lane merchandise but could not find official key chains or figures; I was able to find an artist who was selling key chains and noted their table so that I could come back before I left the convention. I also picked up my polo and hat that I bought ahead of time a month ago and arranged to pick up today at the convention.

Artists Alley
Fairy Tale Gathering
Cosplayers convening near Stage Zero
Our itinerary was wide open for the night, so we thought it would be a good time to trek on over to the Doubletree to experience Silver Island - FanimeCon's idea of separating all of the adult content into it's own area - except for Nate, who was stuck at Swap Meet for the second night and wouldn't really join us until Day Two.

Convention Bingo
Before that, we stopped by well-known sandwich shop known as Ike's Love and Sandwiches which we were itching to try. I had the Matt Cain Championship Edition - roast beef, turkey, salami, godfather sauce, and provolone with beer-battered onion rings, avocado, and mozzarella sticks added - while Ryan had the Menage a Trois - halal chicken, BBQ, honey mustard, real honey, pepper jack, cheddar, and swiss - and Ray had the Steve Jobs - breaded eggplant, ranch, green pesto, and provolone. For all the hype surrounding Ike's, I was satisfied.

Matt Cain Championship Edition
Menage a Trois
As we walked towards the intersection to cross to Ike's, we found Miniboss - a barcade that had recently opened up and since we really didn't have much else to do, we made a stop in, checked out the bar menu, and plopped some quarters into some old-school machines.

Signage for Miniboss
A shot of the bar and arcade machines
Cowboy Bebop playing on one of the screens
We realized that we had a long way between here and the Doubletree and a long way back to the Hilton where the shuttles were stopping that headed to the Doubletree, so we did the logical thing and called up a Lyft to take us to the hotel. During our journey there, we had a good conversation with our driver NostreDawn about what were doing here as well as Lyft in general, going back to when Uber had that huge data breach a couple of years ago and the surge in people taking Lyft vehicles. We ended the journey by giving our business card for him to promote us throughout the weekend. Between Lyft, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and Full House Casino Events (which I will get into in a second), we had a good first round of networking.

The Doubletree seemed as quiet as it was the first time I was here last year, although we would think it would get busier since all of the hentai stuff were here and not back at the convention center. To pass time, we headed to the Casino, a free-to-play area with blackjack, roulette, craps, and Texas Hold'em tables ran by Full House Casino Events instead of FanimeCon staff back when they did this back in 2015 for the 21st convention; this meant that instead of commemorative poker chips they went ahead and got real dealers.

Honestly, we thought we wouldn't be here for long since I was the only interested until Ryan started on the blackjack tables and was there for the majority of the time. Meanwhile I was on the craps table and both Trevor and Scott - the two dealers running this particular table - noticed this "seasoned gambler playing for a good free time" as soon as I was throwing down bets that I would be laying down in Reno, Las Vegas, or a California Indian casino. At some point, all of three of us were teaching the newcomers who had no idea how to even roll dice how to play craps and were even calling me by my first name. Celebrating with other patrons and giving them high-fives seemed like a flashback to SNAFUCon last year or when Thunder Valley "paid" for my FanimeCon 2018 room.

I did jump over to the poker table, but found myself wondering why I was playing poker like it's a cash game at Stones Gambling Hall; later on I did loosen up and played 6-3 spade suited in a straddle, had callers, got two spades on the flop, shoved on the flop, and caught a river spade all without someone having higher suited cards.

Most of my "winnings" came at the craps table with losses mounting across everywhere else, even when I was next to Ryan at the blackjack table.

At one point, I whipped out my phone and started to play hip-hop hype bangers since the hotel wouldn't provide music and even Ryan's dealer had to find out who was "pipping in the heat." Before we knew it, it was almost midnight and had spent our entire time at Silver Island at the casino, which was around four hours. With 10 minutes to go, there were bets of $1,000 (point hit), $2,000 (7 on the come out roll), and $4,000 (7 out) to finish out what seemed to be a "blowing steam moment." Speaking of steam, we were going to take the shuttles back to the Hilton but after we saw all the foggy windows we called Lyft once again to take us back directly to our hotel.

Once we got back, the usual happened. But we didn't go for long because we had business ahead of us come morning...

-Day One End-

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