It's been a long time since I attended both days of Contra. My friend Corwyn was running it this year, and largely to show support for him, I not only attended both days but I even got a hotel room. I don't think I've ever gotten my own hotel room at Contra. Most of the time at the local cons, I convince someone to host my wardrobe and go home at night to sleep. I sleep better at home and lately I haven't even been staying very long. I mean, I mostly go to cons to change clothes, and I haven't bought a new outfit in years. I think about pretty clothes and instead of being excited, I feel old and fat.
I did not feel old and fat this weekend. I felt young and pretty. I really need to go thrifting before ConQuesT this year so I can get some stuff to wear.
As part of "show support", I showed up on Friday in time for opening ceremonies at 7PM, which was a first for me. For the first time ever, Contra had guests of honor that I actually recognized and wanted to meet. I swear I had no part in this. One of them was Jennie Breeden of The Devil's Panties (it's an autobiographical webcomic; the title has nothing to do with the comic) and the other was Jason Carter, best known for playing Marcus Cole on Babylon 5.
Jason Carter was not at opening ceremonies. Corwyn had sent James to pick him up at the airport for the scheduled flight arrival, and James couldn't find him. So James called Corwyn, and Corwyn called Jason Carter.
Jason Carter: "Hello, Corwyn. To what do I owe the honor of this call?"
Corwyn: "... my driver can't find you at the airport?"
Jason: "... the con is this weekend?!"
Jason: "I thought it was next month! I swear this has never happened to me before."
Corwyn: "Jason, there's only so many times in a man's life he can say that, and this is not one of them."*
* I heard versions of this conversation from both of them, and each was a little different, but this seems to have been the gist of it.
Fortunately, Corwyn was able to get him on another flight and he arrived around 10PM. Which turned out fine, because Contra's true main event is not panels or daytime activities, but partying into the wee hours of the night and hanging out around the hot tub and swimming pool. And Jason Carter actually hung out and drank and talked with the fans ALL NIGHT. I think he went to bed at like 6AM. And then got up at 10AM to eat breakfast and do the 11AM talk that Corwyn had sadistically scheduled him for. And then hung out at the room parties all night Saturday too. He was awesome. (SQUEE I GOT TO MEET JASON CARTER!) Very friendly, talkative, funny -- a perfect fit for Contra.
Apart from opening ceremonies, there was a steampunk-themed fashion show on Friday night, which included 'Baron Bon Bar' and his airship crew. Baron Bon Bar had an awesome steampunk outfit: it included a backpack for carrying liquor with tubes leading to the wrist-mounted dispenser, and a bandolier full of mixers, and a "shotgun", which was a kind of squirt gun attached to a liquor bottle, that he'd pump to squirt about half a shot directly into the recipient's mouth. This was a very Contra character.
After the fashion show, Cat, Laura, duane_kc and I went to watch the fire show in the hotel parking lot (because fire) on Friday night. The fire show opened with a young woman whose name I do not know twirling what was basically a baton lit on both ends, then paused for technical difficulties for ten or fifteen minutes. Once the sound equipment problem was resolved, Jeremy and Alonzo** each did two sets dancing with burning things. This is a remarkably beautiful art form, even aside from the sheer terror of watching a man whip burning pots at the end of short chains past his face or between his legs. There's a grace and artistry in watching the men move and manipulate the fire. I love watching them perform.
** I am not sure I am spelling his name correctly. Alonso, maybe?
I stayed up until after dawn, having a blast. I hung out with skyflame and duane_kc for part of the evening. kc_risenphoenix and Raymond had their anniversary party in the their room. Jeremy, Kat***, and four or five people whose names I don't remember were playing Cards Against Humanity, so I looked over Jeremy's shoulder for a while and then got dealt into the existing game. (Jeremy: "But she already knows all my cards." Me: "Don't worry, I'm not going to refuse to pick your answers because of that." In retrospect, this is probably something that the other players should have complained about and not him.) It's a pretty fun party game: we played it more for laughs than as a competition, which I think is just as well -- it's the sort of game where if you try to meta-game it by figuring out who would have played which responses to the prompt and then not picking them because they were already winning would spoil it. After midnight, we took a break to get fresh drinks and use bathrooms and such. I changed outfits and came back, but the hosts had shut down the room party. Oops.
*** Not to be confused with Cat.
I wandered to the con suite and hung out there for a while talking and listening. Around 2 or 3AM, I left to hit the hot tub. It had been jammed earlier, but I was the only one there by then. About 10 or 15 minutes after I got there, Alonzo joined me, and then another 20 minutes later Baron Bon Bar and Jason Carter and one or two other people came down. They didn't get in the pool while we were there, though Jason stayed for a while to chat. Alonzo and I left around, I don't know, 3:30AM maybe. I expected the con floor to be dead by then, but at least twenty people were still in the con suite and the hall outside. So I took a shower, got dressed again, and wandered back to the con suite. Kevin, William, Jeremy and Alonzo were there along with several other people. Alonzo asked if he could play with my hair. "Of course! It's the whole reason I have long hair," I said. He gave me a quizzical look. I explained: "When I was a little girl, like 7 or 8, all the other little girls wanted to play with the hair of the girl who had long hair. I thought it was the key to being popular: have long hair so people will play with it. This is not the sole reason I have long hair now, but I am pretty sure it is buried somewhere in my subconscious." After a bit, I dragged Jeremy into my lap to play with his hair.
Jason returned -- it turned out he had gone down to the hot tub and spent quite a while there while it was wholly deserted. We were chatting about random subjects, and Jason commented, watching the three of us, about how cons like this completely invert the stereotype of the nerd virgin who can't talk to girls. I can't remember most of the conversation, though I do distinctly recall saying at one point "We are having this conversation because it is 5AM. If you didn't want to have this conversation, you should've gone to bed already", even though I can't remember what we were talking about. I think it was some awful topic like blow-up dolls. Alex and Niia wandered in and Niia told some terrible stories about Alex, including a completely unbelievable one about her drawing a mustache on him when he fell asleep late in a party, and then him trying and failing to shave it of in the morning. The thing that made this hysterically funny was Alex saying "Stop" and "Shut up" over and over again, in a way that made this totally implausible story seem like it must have happened because why else would he be objecting to it.
Before I went to sleep I commented that I usually wake up at 7AM regardless of when I go to sleep, so I didn't know how my body was going to react, since I was now going to bed at 7AM.
My body reacted by waking me up at 8:35AM. Because it hates me. So I spent 45 minutes failing to go back to sleep, then gave up and got dressed in my southern belle outfit and went next door where Corwyn and Cat had the misfortune to also be awake. They had gone to bed earlier than me -- like 3 or 4AM -- but still. I lent Cat one of my tops. It was 9AM and already we looked gorgeous.
We went downstairs so Corwyn could open the ballroom for the dealers, and I had breakfast with Jason Carter (squee!) and the random assortment of fans who also had the misfortune to be conscious. jimmy_hollaman pretended he was too busy and/or tired and/or I was too busy to talk to him, so I had to go over and harass him and get a hug before I went to Jason's 11AM talk. The 11AM talk ran long because (a) no one was keeping track of time for him and (b) nothing else was scheduled until 1PM so the con staff was happy to have him talking until then. He covered a range of topics and an array of funny anecdotes, like channeling his anger at a fellow performer into a scene in the play where his character is supposed to be yelling at the other, and getting complimented by the other performer on it afterwards. And falling off the stage while playing Romeo in the balcony scene. And he performed several short funny poems that he'd written and performed in his drama student days, which were fun. And talked about Babylon 5, of course -- he was mostly taking questions from the audience. Like how he hardly got to meet some of the other B5 regulars, because Marcus Cole's story arcs didn't intersect with their arcs at all. I asked him who his favorite actor to perform with was. He said Richard Biggs -- that's part of why JMS wrote story arcs putting Dr. Franklin and Cole together, because he could see how the actors got along off-set.
My southern belle dress is now much too tight for me to wear for very long; by the time Jason declared he was done at 12:50PM I was dying to change into something comfortable. I dashed up to my room, briefly considered trying to nap, and decided that no, I wanted to see Jennie Breeden speak. I could sleep after the con. So I put on my belly dancer outfit, which is delightfully comfy, and dashed back downstairs. Jennie's talk was delightful, full of anecdotes about her life and work that didn't translate well to comic form but were very funny. She also mentioned that she'll often do comics that make fun of herself for doing stupid things, but that she doesn't do that to other people: "Because I don't want to be mean. Also, they know where I live". I always sit front and center at talks like this, and sometimes I wonder if I am giving the speaker a hard time when I pipe up in response to "Questions?" But when I went to Jennie's table after the talk, she said "Oh no! I was just telling someone that the bellydancer saved me several times by having a question when I couldn't think of something to say." ♥
Like Jason, Jennie was happy to chat with fans and was super-friendly and approachable. I remember talking to her about Ursula Vernon's art, and Jennie told a story about a print of a happy naked mole rat sculptor in front of a sculpture of a phallis. "I saw this and went 'oh my God, it's my dad!'" Which led to an explanation involving her as a teen dusting all the art in a giant gallery of her father's, with a friend, when the friend pointed out how phallic this one three-foot tall sculpture looked. Jennie: "'No, it's not that, it's ... oh no ... ' *mimes looking away at something else '... there's another one ... ' *mimes looking in a different direction 'AHH THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!' I could never look at my dad's art the same way again."
I think I'll just post this here, since it's late now, and hope to get to the rest of the con later. And maybe get some sleep tonight. z_z