CastleCon 10 Review

Well, what a con! I certainly had fun. And as always, I will be publishing my review. This con promised to be different for me, because it was one of the first in many years with no Punk Walrus reading (no new material!), and also, my wife Christine would be running the Art Show with cjae. Christine had been preparing a lot in advance for this, including many hours of her own artwork, some of her own money, and a lot of labor including cutting 1000 cubes of cheddar cheese from one large block. But she would be busy which means I had the important job of taking care of my other true love, my son Christopher.

I took off a week from work. Originally, I was only going to take off Thursday and Friday, but at the time I planned this excursion, I thought I was going to be laid off, and I had all these "floating holidays" at work I was going to lose if I did not take them. So I took of Wednesday and the following Monday. I was also planning to take my week of vacation a week after CastleCon week to be part of a family reunion. But then I got another job in my company with started the week I was going to take vacation. So I plugged those days after, and I was now taking off a total of six days, Wednesday to next Thursday. I was going to be relaxed for this convention.

I followed the mailing list on Wednesday, and Bruce was begging for help loading the bus. I was later to learn that he was having bus problems (so what else was new?). Luckily, they got fixed. My family and I packed early that day, so all we had to do was load the car and go on Thursday. And so, on Thursday afternoon, we headed on over to the Holiday Inn in Frederick, Maryland.

When we got there, a handful of people were already there. Notably missing was Heather Prysock, who was with friends that weekend. But her father, Jedi, was there, and the small assemblage of us waited for the bus, which came in around 4 or 5, earlier than normal. But oh no! There was the Miss Dairy America Pageant that was not yet done, and would be using all the ballroom space until 9:30pm. Teen and pre-teen models of varying degrees of anorexia skittered about our slowly growing population of mutants. I guess there have been worse cases of double booking, and this wasn't exactly a double booking anyway. Luckily, nobody really got disturbed on either side, and as we piled our odd assortment of props in the main atrium, America's youthful milk maidens walked by us quickly, one of them notably crossing herself Catholic style whenever she mean one of our more… well, colorful members.

Christine set up the art room with cjae and the Art Brigade while I attended to Christopher's and my asthma, which had become rather stressed due to the ozone levels (in the RED zone). We got our room, and prepared to meet with our common roommate of 5 years of FanTek cons, Amira. She arrived with her son Peter, the computer junkie, and Velvet, a friend of hers from Catabwa. Then I helped Cheryl wrap butcher paper around message boards, but that proved to be too exhausting to finish, so Creon found Fluffy and Becky, who graciously finished the other half of the job while I put them up where they belonged. Fluffy then discussed plans to possibly pick up a Swedish Member from her home in Sweden for CastleCon 11. Finally, after the Miss Dairy America (or whatever they were) was selected, others started setting up the ballroom. Bruce announced he was going to sleep at around ten, and I decided to also take my sleeping time while I still could.

Friday morning rolled around, and after someone said the buffet breakfast at the hotel was somewhat inedible, my family and I went to Bob Evans down the road. I should never order anything with syrup, and learned never to leave crayons in a hot car. I had to change clothes when I got back. My son started with registration, and although he was bored, I helped him out until he left on his own, which meant I had to follow. Luckily, I had nothing to do officially (panels or otherwise) on Friday, with the exception of opening ceremonies which I had already written out days before. The Art Show was filling with artists rather early, which dissipated our earlier fears of a low turnout. The Art show was going smoothly. At around 2:00, I took a break from child chasing and watched "Lupin III: Castle Caligrioso," a great Japanime film I had been trying to see from start to finish for about three years. Thank you to Steve Hall who brought it. I ordered two buttons from my friend Nancy, the Button Lady. One said, "Punkie" and a matching one said, "Son of Punkie." My son and I wore these during the con, which drew a lot of comments and giggles from the attendees.

After an early dinner, I futzed about to find out if anyone had anything odd for opening ceremonies, and all that I had was someone presenting a small stuffed bunny in a tutu to Tynie. I gave my little pre-written speech, which went over well according to some friends of mine. I will give a similar format at EveCon 15. Basically I did some small and quick reminiscences of CastleCon pasts, as well as put the audience in a mindset as to what was popular when CastleCon 1 came out, August 5th, 1988. But what really shocked me was that I was sure I was doing a horrible job. See, I got some sort of stomach virus early Friday, and as a result… well, halfway through OC, I was trying to look for a polite way to disappear and head for the nearest Little Walrus's Room. The whole time I tried to hide my discomfort onstage, and tried to remember what my directors told me to do in a case like this. "Ha ha!" said the voice of Tutti, one of my old Thespian coaches, "You should have taken care of that before you went onstage, Mr. Larson! I am not your nanny!" But a break never surfaced, since I didn't want to let Electro down during his opening filk song about pirates taking over Washington DC (which was very funny), and other people interacted with me. But my tummy held out until the end, and when it was over, and I was rushing to the bathroom, my wife grabbed me and demanded I get the microwave out of the car (for the Art Show egg rolls). So another delay held me until I was able to get back to my room and let the local rumblings and pains pass.

CR went to sleep, and I left him with Amira for a few minutes while I helped Christine with the Grand Art Show Gala Opening by microwaving egg rolls in the Art Show Bathroom. The Opening was a FANTASTIC success, with a high turnout. We almost ran out of art panel space, and people were bidding like mad. I met Mark, the con chair at KatsuCon, and two of his pieces were already going to Auction. After that, I went back to my room and snoozed away.

Saturday Morning was upon me in no time, and we ate at the hotel buffet, which had the sloooowest service imaginable. They should have planned more waitresses, since there were only two older ladies rushing between the two dozen filled tables. Also, they were not refilling the buffet, or keeping much warm. But the food taste had improved. I think we just caught them off guard. I had to go to the Strange Tea Improv Panel, which meant finding Brad and Rogue. I did find them shortly before the panel, but neglected to tell them I had a plan, but it was all to fail.

In one of the worst panels I have ever been in, I blame myself. Had I had a stronger itinerary, or planned things better, we would not have had the terrible disaster that we did. First, we had a small shy audience. Well, small and shy with the exception of ONE person, a person who I do not know by name but she dominated the panel with her own brand of humor… which was… well… on a different level. Let's keep it at that. But I think this "It's cool to be a vampire" phase of fandom is now officially dead after this girl. While minute after grueling minute this … person continued to spew out a fountain of flat jokes, I desperately tried to regain control, despite at one time, this person asked Rogue if it was okay if she bit me. This person was like a fire, and eventually I had to cut off the fuel by canceling the improv concept altogether. We spent the last half-hour talking to our audience, using regurgitated stand up material I had collected over the years. Our poor, poor audience was the true sufferers in this façade of humor, and it was all I could get them to do actually get the nerve to talk back to us. As my Swedish Grandmother would say, "Oy yoy yoy…" After the slaughter, Rogue, Brad, and I went to the bad to have a drink. Since I don't drink alcohol, I had a Sprite, but Rogue and Brad had no such limitations. We joined Daniel Alt, computer room guru, which explained the troubles he was having with networking computers that were more like trying to have a United Nations meeting with no translators. And for the first time in my life, mostly because I rarely am in any bars, I was carded. I am 28, and look 41 (or so I am told at work when they exclaim shock at my true youth), so I was actually a bit thrilled this had happened to me.

Art Show Cheese Tasting was to be next, and that went well, but my poor son, who was the tail end of a Chinese Dragon that went around drumming up guests, was dragged into several doorways, plants, and walls. He ended up with a huge bump on his head, and I took him back to the room. Then we had some sort of lunch/dinner at the hotel on Brad's bill. But my son got sick, and I spent some more time with him in the room. Then I showed up to Costume Call Walk Through.

Kimber and Julie usually run the show, whereas I merely judge it. But Kimber was getting married, and Julie was also attending that event (I didn't get to go to the bachelorette party, but I heard it was also a great success). So Bruce said he really needed someone to run the show, and although I agreed to do it, I warned him with only two weeks notice, I feared I would do a less than acceptable job. But it wasn't as bad as I feared. First, Julie Pruett and Mary helped me out by drumming up guests, and giving me suggestions, some which prevented potential disasters. We had about 12 pre-entrants, and a few late entries. Due to the fact I was told by someone, who I thought was Adrienne, that contestant #13 HAD to be the last one due to a fairy wedding and the number 13, I put in the numbers 12a, 12b, 12c, etc for late entrants. Later, Adrienne acted confused at this arrangement, and stated she said no such thing. Too bad I can’t remember who did. We had some good costumes, and to be truthful, although I wasn't up to Julie and Kimber standards, I think we did a fairly good job running the masquerade. My son somehow ended up on stage with Bruce while they were waiting for the Hypnotist show up, and both of them entertained the audience. I think the acting bug has bitten CR. He has no self-embarrassment. This was evident when he got onstage as my predecessor and said, "I am the walrus" into the mike. Then I did the judging, which went fairly well. All of the entrants did a great job and we ended up on time. Adrienne hosted, and did a great job as usual. She also hosted the fairy wedding, which was an integral part of the LARP, "So What Dimension are YOU From?" Prizes I remember giving out were "Most Likely to Be on the Floor of the 9:30 Club Award" to a gothic girl in fatigues crawling on the floor, "Brucifer, Lord of the Blacklighted Darkness" to Bruce, because he claimed he showed up under black light, but his periwinkle shirt actually caused him to vanish into the darkness, and "Gothic Disco Ball" to Adrienne who was wearing a dress that resembled a gothic disco ball. Also during this time, my stomach started to hurt again, and after the costume call, I found myself making it to the bathroom just in time again. Darn virus.

I couldn't sleep, and Amira was spending the rest of the night in the room. This meant I could go out on my own, and I was invited to go swimming. So I did. I had a great time, and later, when the Art Room closed, Christine and Rogue joined us in a huge game of "everyone for themselves" pool volleyball. Who need a net, boundaries, or rules? The only rule we established, I think, was you got extra points if you hit Julie Pruett. This rule was made only because she somehow got hit by the ball a lot. Poor Julie, but what a sport. After a tiring game, Christine and I went into the Jacuzzi, and after boiling ourselves, we went to our room to sleep.

We got up early to open the art room, and I packed. We had late checkout, but I didn't want something unexpected to happen, so I packed early, gave Amira the key, and was out of the room in time for running the art auction. The auction room was packed, and the pieces we had went up pretty high. Then I took care of my son the rest of the day, helped people here and there, bought some old books ("I, Robot," the book that hooked me on SF as a little kid, and a Poul Anderson novel), and a button that said, "If you see an eight-legged organism running around, call me. I have to destroy it before it develops language skills." My son got some gemstones and a geode wafer.

I attended closing ceremonies, and had a long talk with Jedi about directing movies and stuff. My son and I are playing parts of extras in his film, "Attack of the Killer Cameraman." I also narrate the film. Art Show was staying late balancing the books , but afterwards Christine and I took the long trip back home. We were tired.

It was a good convention. Quiet, and from what I heard from security, boring, which is good. A convention was a great success if security has no tales stronger than when they ran out of coffee. Cheryl told me they are still looking for a place to hold HalloweenCon 2, and they plan to have it as a "mini-con," only two days or so in length, and only in part of the hotel. I am sure I'll be there, but I know I'm going to EveCon 15!

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