Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,


I went to the annual local Memorial Day sf convention this weekend. (Real name: ConQuest. I occasionally refer to is as Memcon.) My typical modus operandi at cons involves a lot of clothing changes. I don't so much "costume" as "dress up." Several people took pictures of me, most of them with digital cameras, so I'll probably have some pictures to show in the next week or two, when people email them to me.

This weekend was pretty slow for clothes-changing, for me--four outfits Friday night, six or seven in all of Saturday.

I rolled into the con late on Friday, around 9:30PM. I just wasn't feeling that motivated to get out there. I didn't have any new clothing to show off. And Ed is dead.

But I got dressed anyway, and wandered around the con parties on the 11th floor. I socialized, chatting about nothing in particular with random strangers, near-strangers, and almost-friends that I only see once a year. Mostly, I hung out with MS, who was working security. MS is a short man, perhaps an inch taller than I am, but he's been working out that last few years, with the result that he's nicely built--not heavily muscular, but trim and fit. He's also good company--friendly, articulate, with a good ratio of "talking" and "listening" skills. I met HA's 5-month old daughter, gifted with a name too long and unusual for me to remember how to spell it. Performed the circuit of room parties, including one for Los Angeles' Worldcon 2006 bid--ironic in light of the fact that my city is also bidding for Worldcon in 2006. But it was a good party. THey have a "space cadet" theme, and all the munchies in the room were labeled museum-exhibit style, with such designations as "Alterian Poker Chips" on Necco wafers.

Ed's widow and his two kids were there, which was nice to see. They seemed to be having a good time. A man--I'll call him Bacchus--who'd been Ed's best friend at one point was also there. Ed was on my mind a lot that night, and on Bacchus's, too, I guess. Ed and he had a falling out a year or so before Ed's death. I don't think they ever really patched things up. The only thing that could make losing a friend to death worse is if you've already lost them to anger. I hope I never go through that. I didn't see Bacchus at all on Saturday. I hope he's ok.

At about 1AM, I went in search of the dance and found it had already closed down. I went to bed at around 3AM, and got up about 9 or 10 on Saturday. Memcon was at a new hotel this year--I don't know why it moved from the old one. I have never been that impressed with the previous hotel, but I liked this one even less. They charged $75 a night and didn't even offer the complimentary muffins & danishes that every other hotel I've stayed at (usually for less) in the last five years has. My toilet ran and one of the lamps in my room didn't work. The decor was ugly, too--green and beige striped wallpaper, orange and brown furniture.

The convention rooms were broken into two separate sections of the hotel, with the dealer's room, art show, and a few panel rooms on one side, and some more panel rooms and the gaming room on the other side. The gaming room was depressingly void of gamers; even MtG players were in short supply the the times I walked in. I'd hoped to coax some people into a game of Great Dalmuti, but no luck. I think in part the location was simply bad--there was no reason to go back there except to check for other gamers, and if there weren't any in the room at the moment, there was no reason to stick around.

Jimmy, the man in charge of the masquerade, walked with me through the art show. he talked about wanting to see someone do a costume like one of those depicted in Nene Thomas's work. I pointed at this one and said it'd be an easy one to make. OK, the tattoo might be tricky. (In fairness to both Nene Thomas and Jimmy, some of the costumes depicted are considerably more intricate, though she does a lot of T&A work). I brielfy considered bidding on a print of this image, but decided against it. She does beauiful work, but there's something about the whole "pretty picture" look that gets on my nerves. I have impossible tastes when it comes to art, and I own no artwork except my own. Even of that, I only have one piece hung. It's not even a particulary good work my my own admission. Lut owns several fantasy prints that we have hung about the apartment, though. If not for that, I'd have bare walls. It's not that I dislike artwork in general or fantasy pictures in's just that my tastes are too exacting. "Pretty pictures" vaguely bother me, "modern art" mostly annoys me, and ugly images hold no appeal. It's exceedingly rare for a piece of artwork to catch my eye and hold my interes

After the art show, I wandered into the dealer room and stood in front of Glen Cook's table chatting for an hour or so. Glen Cook sells books at conventions--I gather, mostly because he likes selling books. He said he'd wanted to retire to running a bookstore, but, happily, he'd realized before he was commited to the proposition that independent bookstores were a dying breed in the age of Barnes and Noble and He's a neat person to talk to. I asked him for some book recommendations and bought a couple of humor fantasy novels on his advice (he first asked which authors I liked, and I was looking through his selection to think of names. Pratchett sprung to mind). Then I asked him what his favorite of his own works was. "Well, I should say the Black Company books, because they've made me the most money." Then he said The Tower of Fear, so I bought that, too.

He always comes to ConQuest but he's not usually listed on the program ("Why make me a guest? You know I'll be there anyway"). While I was talking with them, a woman came up and asked him, "What's this panel you're on going to be about? 'Terrorism and Science Fiction?'"

"You must be mistaken. I'm not on any panels."

"Maybe I read the program wrong." *flip flip*. "See, here it is." *points* "Cook. That's you, isn't it?"

"So it is. Starts in twenty minutes. Guess I'd better cover up my table."

I haven't been to a con panel in years, but I decided to go to this one. As people filtered in and sat down, I heard a woman's voice at the front saying, "I'm the moderator?" I thought, oh, this should be good.

Much to my surprise, it was. Two of the panelists worked in Manhattan and described what it was like for them on 9/11. One was an editor, and she said that in the evening, as she was going out to get snacks for the gathering of I-don't-want-to-be-alone people in her apartment, she could see documents floating down from the sky, pages of them. She bent down to pick one page up. It was burned around the edges in a perfect oval. The header was from a novel: A Season in Hell. She thought two things: one was, You could never use this scene in a book or a movie. The other was, Those bastards. They got one of our readers. Later she found out the book wasn't published by her company. It didn't make her feel much better.

I wandered for a little after the panel. The gaming room finally had a group of people who weren't playing Magic. Their game was Lunch Money, a sort of nasty, urban-schoolyard game where the idea is to beat up the other players before they take you out. I sat down, read the rules, and watched them play a round. It has a couple of strikes against it, from my view. One is, it's an elimination game, so there tends to be a lot of downtime for the players kniocked out first. The second is, any player can attack any other player, so it's easy to get a dogpile effect, where the whole schoolyard comes after one person. The key to doing well, I reasoned, was not looking like a target.

When they finished, I jumped in to play the next round. My strategy had a few components. One, I didn't want to attack randomly, because I didn't want to invite payback. Two, I wanted to hold defense cards in my hand whenever I went on the offense, because if someone did come for payback, I wanted to be able to avoid it. Even better were cards that let you retaliate on someone else's turn--I figured that if I could turn a player's attack against them, it would make that person and others look for easier prey afterwards. Last, I kept an eye on the last game's winner. I wanted to be on his side from the start, but I also wanted him taken out before the end.

There were seven people in the game. I spent most of the game turning in my existing cards for new cards, and biding my time. My first attack was thee or four rounds in, and went to finish off a wounded player. A few rounds after that, another player--missing my finishing blow earlier--asked, "When are you going to attack someone?" I went after her next.

It came down to three people--the previous game's winner, myself, and one other. I played the two of them against each other, wanting a wounded player to be the last one left with me. I delivered the finishing blow to the last game's winner, then took out my remaining opponent a few turns later.

After that, sadly, the group broke for dinner, so I didn't get to test whether I'd been good, lucky, or if they'd just been taking it easy on m since I was the new player.

I think I'll go read The Tower of Fear for a while before going to bed. Maybe I'll write about the masquerade and the end of the con later.
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