Tag Archives: Life and Entertainment

FANdom Con: A convention ‘by the fans, for the fans’

V, Joker and Harley

Cosplayers attending FANdomCon.

Tom Moore

Contributing Writer

It started with a dream, in a college dorm room at UWF. As with so many dreams, it was from these humble beginnings that the phenomenon that is FANdom Con was born.

Linda Barnhart, Andy Caulfield, Raven Martinez and John Ricks, all from the Tampa area, shared a love of anime, comics and cosplay. They started a student club, and called it “ConQuest,” because they were on a quest for a convention. What they got was so much more, it surprised even them.

Starting in the fall of 2008, ConQuest grew exponentially each year, because the number of college students who read comic books and enjoyed anime.

“It was our freshman year,” said Barnhart, co-founder of FANdomCon. “The first con we put on, we had $300. That was barely enough money to cover the wristbands for the nearly 700 attendees.”

Caulfield said, “Fortunately, since it was free to UWF students, we were able to book the conference room, the Panel Rooms and have access to the UWF Commons for free. This and the fact that we had our ConQuest club members volunteering for registration and hosting the panels allowed us to put the con on for nearly nothing.” he said.

Now, six years later, FANdom Con has become a bit of a phenomenon along the Emerald Coast. Cosplayers, gamers, fans and vendors joined photographers, cosplay and celebrity guests at the biggest con to date last weekend at the Emerald Coast Convention Center in Ft. Walton Beach.

“What I love about FANdom is I can talk to these people,” said Nick Martin, senior at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, and avid con-goer. Martin has been attending FANdom Con since year two and says it has a special place in his heart.

“I have to say, these guys do a great job every year bringing us fans together, and catering to all us geeks out there,” Martin said. “My first costume was a steampunk rocket tech, so I had a rocket on my back and carried a steel poker. By the time I was done with day one, my back and arm ached. The rocket was solid oak, and the poker was aluminum. They were heavy.

“I didn’t bring them the next day, but it did make me realize that trying on a costume for a few minutes to see if it fits is much different than wearing it all day,” Martin said.

Since the code of Fandom con is “By the fans, for the fans,” it has been the policy of the founders that no fan should have to pay for an autograph by the celebrity guests who are invited to attend the event. This has made it a bit more of a challenge to get guests, because some feel that they should be able to charge for their autograph. But, expert game designer and celebrity guest Tom Green said, “We have our roots in the fandom. No matter how big we get, no matter how successful we are, or no matter how much money we make, underneath it all, we are still just members of the fandom.”

And more than anything else, it is that energy that keeps the fans coming back, year after year.  The “by the fans, for the fans,” dynamic has bred the unique experience that all the attendees have come to expect from a convention. Whether it’s meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones, or just to have a good, clean weekend of family fun, FANdom Con has something for everyone.

T.J Roberts started attendning FANdom early on. When “Anime South” con in Destin was discontinued in 2010, Roberts stumbled upon FANdom in its second year.

“My favorite part of the con is because I get to be with ‘my own kind,’ ” Roberts said.  “Fandom con has given me the opportunity to do it all. I have volunteered, attended panels, hosted panels, and helped plan the activities.

“My favorite thing about Fandom Con is running the panels and getting to talk to all the different people. But no matter who you are, where you come from, or what you do on the outside, here at FANdom Con, you can be proud of who you are, and let your geek flag fly!”

You can view of video montage from the weekend here, and find more information on the con on their website.


Seeking a second wind: How to make it to the end of the semester without having a breakdown

Emily Doyle

Staff Writer

With the end of the semester in sight, University of West Florida’s students are relying more and more on caffeine and hope to make it till the end of finals.

UWF Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) recognizes the slowdown of motivation in students toward the end of the semester, providing services such as counseling for stress, puppies to play with, and the gift of caffeinated drinks in every vending machine.

College is no cakewalk. I don’t think UWF would provide free services such as counseling to help propel us forward if it weren’t completely necessary. So maybe if you find yourself cowering under your covers in an attempt to make all responsibility go away, like many of us do, you should consider taking advantage of these programs.

But, even you – yes, you – can survive the last crippling month of the fall semester. Here are a few testimonies from people who needed a little extra morale boost, and one brave gentleman who managed to conquer college, and his advice.

When asked what helps her get though the semester, junior Madison Murphy said, “Coffee. Lots of coffee” – confirming the idea that without coffee, many of us wouldn’t be where we are today.

When asked how she manages to stay motivated, senior Kady Meyers said, “What keeps me motivated is the end goal.” She said she also looks to her pets as support. “I also have animals that I have to support, and taking care of a horse, dog and cat isn’t cheap … If I fail, I fail them as well. So knowing that when I finish I get to move on to the next step of going to vet school is an amazing feeling, and that’s why I stay so motivated.”

Recent UWF graduate Evan Bernard advises, “You just have to keep going, day after day. The end will come eventually. Find what energizes you and use it to your advantage.”

Students, listen up — these wise words came from someone who has overcome the finals, papers, and overall overwhelming energy that looms over the UWF campus and has come out the other side alive.

So if you need that extra shot of espresso in your morning latte, take it. If you need that energy drink, take it. If you need a nap to help cleanse your mind and get you ready to take on the day, take it. Do what works for you. Look at that assignment in front of you and tell yourself that you can do it, because you are awesome.

CAPS is located in Building 960, Suite 200-A, between the tennis courts and the Fine and Performing Arts building. You can contact them at 474-2420 or email counselingservices@uwf.edu.

UWF alum’s record label spins up

anevningin_coverJosh Hart

Staff Writer

There’s an old adage about the dangers of going into business with your friends or your family. But Al Mirabella, a Pensacola-based UWF alumnus, is ignoring this advice with as much umbrage as he can muster.

In the humble tradition of DIY music, Mirabella’s record label, Drive Through Funeral Home, is made for his friends, is staffed by his friends, and distributes music made by his friends.

Like many other record labels, the origins of Drive Through Funeral Home were humble.

“I wanted high-quality recordings of my friends’ music. I had a tape-dubber left over from the last time I ran a label, and I decided to just go ahead and do it,” Mirabella said.

In less than a month, Mirabella had assembled a dedicated staff, all of which are UWF alumni.

“Internally, we have a publicist, a media specialist, and we have two people that do the recording, we have people for the production of the tapes,” Mirabella said. “It’s harder work for an individual person on our label than it is on any other DIY label. We expect everyone to contribute.”

It’s this dedication to individual responsibility that has allowed Drive Through Funeral Home to already have two releases in the pipeline, despite existing for such a short time.

“Our first releases cost us $74.20 in total to record. All of us contributed to keep everything cost-effective,” Mirabella said.

The first release is an album entitled “An Evening In,” by Pensacola’s own Dalton Wright, a piece of decidedly vintage blue-eyed soul in the vein of Bowie’s “Young Americans.”

The second is a self-titled LP by hook-heavy punk act Worst Case Ontario, describing themselves as “St. Louis’ bastard child of pop punk.”

Mirabella maintains a decidedly simple outlook when it comes to deciding what music he will and will not put out.

“I just think there’s a lot of people who are really good. I like good music. I put out what I want to hear.”

Drive Through Funeral Home is simply a slightly more visible documentation of the thriving Pensacola underground music scene, an addition to the growing cultural fabric of Pensacola.

Listen to a preview of an upcoming release here.

Taste of Pensacola adds local flavor to first week of classes


Students line up in front of a Sonny’s BBQ food truck during Taste of Pensacola
Photo by Kayla Glaze

Students, faculty and staff flocked to the Cannon Greens on Wednesday afternoon as Argo Arrival continued with the annual Taste of Pensacola event.

Argo Arrival is a series of events during the first week of classes at the University of West Florida meant to foster school spirit, camaraderie and help new and returning students learn more about the local Pensacola area.

Taste of Pensacola helped students learn more about the local businesses that they might not see otherwise and also get a free meal or two. A number of different vendors turned out for the 2014 event and almost all of the ones available for comment underestimated the turnout.

According to Chet Saburn, head of marketing for Wing Zone’s 9th Avenue location, it was the busiest of the four years he has been doing the event and mentioned they ran out of food an hour before it ended at 2 p.m., despite bringing 250 pounds of wings and 100 pounds of fries. Other businesses running into the same issue were Kona Ice who ran out of the main ingredient for their snow cones after going through 400 pounds of ice and Sonny’s BBQ.

taste of pcola

More students and vendors at Taste of Pensacola on UWF’s Cannon Greens.
Photo by Kayla Glaze

Sonny’s was one of the most popular stands on Wednesday, offering samples of their Corn Nuggets, Redneck Egg Rolls, Pulled Chicken, Pulled Pork, Sweet and Smoky Ribs, Homestyle Mac and Cheese, Original Recipe BBQ Beans and Signature Sweet Tea.

In addition to having the most variety of eatery options, Sonny’s was also apparently the record holder for the longest line of the day in both duration and length according to the majority of the people that shared their feedback. Susan Brandy, Regional Marketing Director for Sonny’s, was surprised at the turn out to the event as well as the line that formed.

Brandy informed me that the line ran all the way from the food truck to the back entrance of the Common’s and remained steady for two hours. Although Brandy brought more than enough for the crowd she was told to anticipate, the 450 plates weren’t enough to last until the end of the event at 2 p.m.

 When asked if Sonny’s would be interested in doing Taste of Pensacola again, Brady replied that it was a great way to advertise for business and reach demographics that normally would not hear about Sonny’s. She went on to note that a lot of students came up to the food truck in groups where only one person was familiar with the restaurant.

 “So, we’re definitely coming back, and we’ll definitely be bringing more than 450 plates of food…and more drinks in cups that we can reuse,” she concluded.

Christian Graves
Sports Editor