September 11th, 2004

tat

first

Well, worldcon has come and gone, and I had a rather good time, over all. Lots of things to report on, very few if any of them earthshattering.

First thing I learned at Worldcon: don't take a taxi from Logan.

With airport and tunnel fees adding almost USD7 to the fare, it's insane to get the few miles it is to downtown hotels, especially the Copley Place Marriott where I was. USD32 including the (somewhat smaller than normal) tip.

Terry Pratchett was the Writer Guest of Honour this year. As a result, the convention spaces had a somewhat discworld-like flavour to them. Including The Mended Drum, a nice watering hole that ended up a good meeting place and common fan area.

While it's not on the level of the Philadelphia convention center, the Hynes convention center paid its own homage to the fascist monumental style as well.

Met up with many people (duh). Including Thomas Atkinson, dressed first as The Doctor, and later on in a role I've seen him in before: Jedi. I think it was improved from the last time, though. Much coolness as </a></a>bovil], </a></a>kproche, Thomas and a few others closed down the Mended Drum on Thursday (see? I told you it was a good place to hang out).

Friday entailled helping </a></a>bovil and </a></a>kproche get ready for the </a></a>loeg (League of Evil Geniuses) party. Along the way, I ran into </a></a>zyxwvut, a nice surprise, as we'd only made arrangements to hang out a bit later in the day. As usual at a con, everyone's always running everywhere, so many of the meetings were "in passing".

(There are pictures of worldcon here)

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tat

second

Second thing I learned at Worldcon: don't take a taxi from the grocery store to the party hotel after buying a whackload of stuff for the festivities.

The driver we had was entirely unhelpful and inattentive. He exterted himself to pop the trunk open from his seat, but that was about the extent of his usefulness. At the other end, he managed to not stop the meter and also not help unload until the front doorman managed to cajole him into it. In doing so, however, the driver (intentionally, I suspect), managed to crush a bag of the plastic glasses purchased for the party with one of the cases of wine. Ooops. well, that cost him not only the non-tip he was going to get, but a good portion of the fare as well. More patois ensued between the hotel staff and the driver. Meanwhile, we scurried off to do party prep.

When I'm at a con where there's an Evil Geniuses party, I'm always involved in set up and usually in teardown as well. Fortunately, there's actually a bit of a science to it. We know how each other works, and what we'll do. It's never —trivial—, though. There's always something (abnormal room shape or size, wall covering restrictions by the hotel, limited available time to do setup, corkage concerns... always something or other).

Rather than using sticky putty/blue tac/whatever to mount the Hall of Fame images on the walls, we used masking tape. This works fine, except that you have to create 4 rolled pieces of tape for each poster. There are currently 84 members of the Evil Genius Hall of Fame. With other items that have to go up (ID required for alcohol sign, etc), there's close to 100 items to go on the walls. 100 times 4 is a very long time spend creating these little rolled bits of masking tape. Solution? roll the tape into a long, spiraling cylinder (based on a handy hotel pen). Then you can use scissors to cut them into the required length and create 20 or so at a time. Much more efficient. Guess what I ended up doing? :)

After the set up, I went off for a dinner and prolonged discussion with </a></a>zyxwvut. It was a most interesting time and useful discussion. The food was reasonably good, too. Not too terribly fancy, but quite acceptable. We had a bit of a discussion as to whether or not the staff had a real choice whether to affect SFnal elements for the duration of the convention. Several of the staff had amusing elements (vulcan ear, etc.). The slightly cynical scenes regarding Chachki's Flare from Office Space featured heavily.

From there, we did the party circuit. Friday is one of the primary party times, and there were quite a number in full force. Aside from the bid parties (vying for the 2007 Worldcon location), there were a couple of parties that particularly stood out (though all that I saw were fun in one way or another). One was the SFF net party, featuring Pan Galactic Gargleblasters (or so the flyers ambitiously claimed). The other was... not too surprisingly... the League of Evil Geniuses party.

The party usually goes quite well. Much discussion of the merits of various members of the Hall of Fame, and nominations for new ones. The GoH for the con (Terry Pratchett) did swing by and had a very good time, and heartily cast The Vote for adding the Patrician. The Mayor from Buffy (not the Mayor of Townsville!) was another frequent mention. There are several new evil geniuses proceeding through the nomination process for the next iteration of the party.

At the end of the party, </a></a>zyxwvut and I performed our Noble Deed for the Day by escorting </a></a>laroberouge through the Prudential Center to her hotel. It was a very late hour and even though the mall is largely secure, she felt better for the accompaniment. And we were quite happy to provide it. She had neat things to talk about.

Then, sleeeeep... But, as it's a con, not as much of it as is probably good for a body.

(There are pictures of worldcon here)

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tat

third

Third thing I learned at Worldcon: The more things change, the more they echo the past.

Saturday I ran into Pooka and Sharkie and somehow ended up in the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund auction. Always a fun time, even though this is one of the years that I was unable to purchase anything. I suppose here I have to snicker at Keith Decandido and his ability to skillfully drop items without damaging them. Much.

I then went off to poke through the Art Show. It was a typically large Worldcon art show, but it didn't really resonate strongly with me. Many of the pieces I'd seen. While many of the ones that I hadn't yet seen were very nicely executed, and composed, and were good pieces, very few of them actually connected with me. This may have had a fair amount to do with the seesaw moods I've been going through the last while.

There's nothing quite like a feeling of total and utter isolation washing over you as you prowl through the common fan areas at a Worldcon where you really aren't alone but surrounded by 6000 other fans who are generally not really Bad People.

Regardless of that, I did make one purchase in the dealers room that day. A video tape of Do You Have A License To Save This Planet. Finding that, and at such a reasonable price, was a bit of a good thing.

One of the regular staples at Worldcons I attend (and often at other conventions, too) is the Mass Dinner. This usually involves one or more of the usual culprits (largely remaining nameless (so as to protect the guilty), but include at random times: Josepha Sherman, Esther Friesner, Laura Anne Gilman) and a supporting cast of thousands. The usual idea is meeting in the lobby and proceeding to descend —en masse— on a local restaurant.

Sometimes it works out well, and sometimes... it doesn't. Saturday's attempt was less successful than most. The place decided on was a very seafood-heavy restaurant that didn't really have sufficient seating, even at adjacent tables. So... it was basically: gather at the lobby. Swarm up the street. Get split into several tables at different removes from each other. THen have a quarter of the party decide they can't really find anything to eat at the restaurant anyways and head off elsewhere. After some of the ordering has been done already. Heck, I'm not a seafood person, and I did okay there. Bah. Even so, we made the best of it.

"Xerps in 2010", Queer Fandom, and Albacon ran particularly attractive parties on Saturday night. For various reasons. Many people ask why we don't do the League of Evil Geniuses parties every night of a con. There are a couple of reasons:

  • running the party is rather a lot of work
  • running the party is rather expensive
  • we like going to parties ourselves.

Late late late in the evening, Max shows up. He came up from New York to visit family, drop in at Worldcon and visit with me a bit. Max is cool. Was very nice to see him, tired as I was at that point.

(There are pictures of worldcon here)

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overclocked

fourth

Fourth thing I learned at Worldcon: 30 years is both a long time, and a short time.

Sunday, and an earlier wake up than I'd probably have liked. But that's a convention for you! While Max went off on his family visiting, I went down and helped Vince Roth into the battlesuit he wears/wore in the feature length movie he's been working on: Surge of Power. Vince is a good guy, definitely easy on the eyes and with a definite drive to see his project to succeed. Was fun to be his "—sidekick du jour—". Got to stand around with thim while he promoted a screening of the movie at the convention.

Unfortunately (in one respect), I couldn't actually watch it, as I had a prior appointment. And a very special and wonderful one it was. The remarriage/rededication of Esther and Walter. Two very good people I'm glad to call my friends. It was a nice ceremony; kept accessible to those of us not sharing the faith, but filled with the rich symbolism nonetheless. I have some pictures of the event (posted with permission).

Sunday's dinner event was a bit smaller, and, since the members largely knew each other more directly, it was more organised. Our goal was also made easier by the presence of the food court. With reasonable choices for eating, too.

After dinner, I needed a bit of a nap. I figured I had a couple of hours before the start of the Masquerade. The Universe thought otherwise.

(There are pictures of worldcon here)

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fifth

Fifth thing I learned at Worldcon: be very careful when you check e-mail and voicemail and IM from a convention.

The two hours (and more) disappeared in a cloud of interruptions from home and other places. And Max returned at just the wrong time; I was a bit frustrated. But it all worked out okay.

We watched the Masquerade from the comfort of the aforementioned Mended Drum. A lot of Novice entries. This is refreshing to see, particularly at a Worldcon. Given the presence of Terry Pratchett, there were many Discworld-related entries. Some of them quite amusing and interesting. The video coverage was excellent; best I'd seen in a long time.

Between the presentations and the awarding of prizes, the 'half time' entertainment consisted of Charles Ross doing his One Man Star Wars show. Quite impressive. Actually more entertaining than the originals, at this point. :)

Masquerades at worldcons are always protracted affairs. Holding them on Sundays appears to be a bit of a mistake too. I'm not entirely convinced of it, but I begin to be persuaded (by others) that holding the Masquerade on Saturday and the Hugo awards ceremony on Sunday would be far preferable. One side effect of a Masquerade show that runs past midnight on Sunday night is that the crowd trickles out. This means that the parties never really get a major rush that encourages them to stay open later. Couple this with the fact that many people running parties are likely to be packing up and heading out on Monday, and this made (at Noreascon4 at least) the Sunday night parties a bit disappointing. I did manage to get my pre-support in for Montreal's 2009 Worldcon bid. If you hadn't heard about it, don't be surprised; it was hatched in the hotel bar on Friday.

Sleeeeeep. Well, after the parties and stuff like that.

(There are pictures of worldcon here)

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    oedipus - Auf Wiedersehen Monty
overclocked

sixth

Sixth thing I learned at Worldcon: all conventions end. Except Murphicon.

Last day of the con is usually much more relaxed than the previous ones. Especially if you're staying that night as well. Did another sweep of the convention space and dealer's room. Snagged a couple of books for the flights the next day, and converted my pre-support for Nippon 2007 to an attending membership. That will be a fun, and expensive, trip.

Lunch was surprisingly affordable, at Vinny T's Of Boston. Not cheap, but for what you get... affordable. Then it was doing some packing and clean up, followed by a bit of a nap (finally). Then more food! </a></a>bovil, </a></a>kproche and I found a nice little place a couple blocks from the hotel. Dartmouth Cafe Bar and Grill. Quite impressive. Food was good. Wine choices were quite good, prices reasonable (about the same as Vinny T's and the food was even better!). We also had the amusement of watching the chef fret and get nervous about cooking for his parents. Something you tend not to see in a chain restaurant!

The Dead Dog party is another staple of Worldcons. The last couple have been run by the eternal Minneapolis in '73 bid committee and friends. A couple hundred fen in the con suite (well, small ballroom, but still called the 'suite'). Keeping the embers of the convention from going out. Or something like that.

Spent some time speaking with Jan Stirling — whom I mostly see at Worldcons. Usually we end up in the Art Show together, but not this time. Still, a good conversation. Still trying to convince that Toronto's better than New Mexico. More conversation with Esther, reminiscing of past Zoo trips, and lamenting that Boston's Zoo was a non-starter for the Worldcon Zoo trip.

BASFA annexed the Boston area (becoming, temporarily, the Back Bay Area Science Fiction Association). They held a meeting there, and I became a member. I suspect it'll be one of the very few meetings I'll ever get to attend. They handed out various ambassadorships, and elevated Esther from the Queen of Hamsters to the Empress of Hamsters.

BASFA has some useful meeting mechanics. There's a bowl on the meeting table. Any puns require a payment of 25 cents into the fund. Similarly, for simple motions, after attendees votes are cast, additional votes may be bought. This all works surprisingly well in an environment that doesn't have a lot of obvious backbiting politics.

Eventually sleep was required, and the convention effectively ended for me. It was a fairly good convention; I had a good time. It was a bit of a reset from the way things had been going recently. Got some affirmation that I'm not entirely off-course in some of the changes I'm making. Got a couple of reality checks, but even those were minor and very very helpful.

So... next rock will begin the second leg of my voyage... the Los Angeles basin. Sort of.

(There are pictures of worldcon here)

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seventh

Seventh thing I learned at Worldcon: Boston transit rocks to the airport.

Got up, and got to the airport in plenty of time. And it only cost me USD1.25! Hauling my Luggage (with wheels and not many little legs) wasn't that bad; after all I did it on the TTC at home often enough. Flights were acceptable. Of course, changing in Seattle for a trip to LA from Boston added a couple of hours to travel time, but I think that's definitely worth the cheap fare I got it for.

Upon arriving at </a></a>kaysho and </a></a>kayotae's place, I opened my luggage. Much amusement ensued after finding a notice that TSA had physically inspected my bag. And that my Zeta toys (link not worksafe) were obviously the last thing put back into the case!

(There are pictures of worldcon here)

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    Linus Akesson - One Man and His Piano