Nerd Culture

6 Things We Learned at Phoenix DinoCon 2014

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See also: Phoenix DinoCon 2014 in Photos

Run by a clan of five local dino-lovers -- including "crafty librarian" Patty Jimenez, her husband Carl, their son Trinidad, and her sister Julia Zolondz -- the 'con launched last summer and has already tripled in size. More than 400 people were in attendance at the afternoon event at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, which offered the chance to indulge their stegosaurus-size fixations for the prehistoric creatures while attending any of a dozen different panels celebrating saurians in movies, literature, and gaming.

There was also a massive smackdown between geeks debating dinosaur-related topics to participate in, discussions about the scientific accuracy of dinos in Hollywood, the chance to pose for photos with a screen-authentic vehicle from Jurassic Park, or even buy a tyrannosaurus handbag.

Geeking out over dinosaurs wasn't the only thing to be had at DinoCon, as it offered the chance to find out a few things about the behemoth beasts and their portrayal in pop culture over the past several decades. Here what we learned after attending the event.

6. Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown works at any nerd event

One of the many hallmarks of being a geek is engaging in lively and spirited debate with your fellow know-it-alls and (hopefully) pwning the crap out of them. Such a thrill is at the very heart of the annual Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown, which has been a humorous and popular part of Phoenix Comicon the past several years. It's proven to be such a success that DinoCon's staff adapted the competition for their event, naturally with a more saurian-oriented focus.

The result? The "Turbo Dinosaur Edition" of PUGS proved to be just as fun as the original. Eight dino-geeks squared off against each other in back-and-forth verbal donnybrooks during the single-elimination tournament, hashed out whether Dino from The Flintstones or Night at the Museum's Rexy the Skeleton made for a better pet, or if Godzilla's cartoon stomping of Bambi was a more memorable than its b-ball match-up with former Phoenix Suns star Charles Barkley.

Probably the most entertaining tête-à-tête came when a pair of geeks argued over who had the sassier short-shorts in Jurassic Park: paleobotantist Ellie Sattler or game warden Robert Muldoon. It marked the first, and probably only, time we've heard the phrases "asstastic" and "T-Rex booty meat" used in a geek debate.

5. Tyrannosaurs Rex rules all

Without a doubt, the "tyrant lizard king" truly deserves its crown, and not just because the fearsome meat-eater sits atop the dinosaur food chain. T-Rex is easily the most identifiable and beloved dino of them all, even if it scared the bejeezus out you as a child. Appropriately, T-Rexes were practically everywhere at Phoenix DinoCon, from T-shirts and toys to the focus of several panels and the winner's circle of an event-long competition.

Its utter popularity was no more evident when the Tyrannosaurs Rex from the original Jurassic Park thrashed Godzilla for a spot in DinoCon's "Hall of Distinguished Dinosaurs." A majority of attendees cast their votes throughout the day for the hungry beast that munched its way through the flick and cheered when it was announced as the winner. And in a comedic twist, a look-alike version of fictitious industrialist John Hammond accepted a trophy on behalf of his creation.

The T-Rex might not be able to do pushups with its tiny arms, but it can still kick the ass of the "King of All Monsters."

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.