EveCon 14

The Convention of Unusual Vader

As I recall, driving down to EveCon 13 was reminiscent of some post-apocalyptic Ice-age epic, where snow and ice dominated the Maryland landscape. Driving down to EveCon 14 was more like worrying if the icecaps were going to melt. It was warm! Not blazing hot, like one CastleCon I recall where the hotel air conditioning conked out, and we had people passing out from dehydration, but it was in the 60's all weekend. And what was I doing? Wandering around inside, stepping on rogue M&M's in the con suite.

But I did have a good time. I planned to go up with Albedo, but at the last minute, my son had a massive asthma attack, couldn't go to school, so my wife said, "F**k it, let's go to the con..." So we drove up on Friday morning, at got to the hotel around noon.

"Punkiieee!" someone always says when I arrive. I'll hear that cry of acknowledged friendship for the rest of the day by over a dozen individuals. Some, I will yell their name back, like "Daphne!" or "Crazy Horse!", or some, I will mimic this strange wave I call the "scratching wave" because it doesn't look so much like a way as it does someone scratching a small itch with their hand. This is the part of the convention where I start to relax, feeling like I am in my element. A man with a vest of buttons walks by, and I see some people in Star Wars outfits. Ah, yes, the Star Wars LARP is at this con. I'd join, but ever since a disastrous LARP many years ago where I got trapped in an elevator with my assassin. I spent $18 to play for an hour in a game I barely understood until I lost. Maybe that's childish, because the rest of the con, everyone who was playing that game was having a lot of fun! Oh well, that's me, still running away from skinned knees... :)

My family got the usual pictures taken, and I went to see who was here, and who needed help. I went to the video room and I saw Jedi, where we discussed what it's like being a father, and my son immediately started to hang out with his daughter, Heather. My son would spend the next three days with this girl, who although she is 3 years older than CR, is a very patient girl. I try to go to the merchant's room, but not only is it not open yet, but it was spilling into the hallway. Sylvia calmly told me everything was going to hell, something about overbooking. I thought she meant the hotel double-booked us, but it turns out we had overbooked merchants. Oops! Well, Nancy's button table was one of the merchants that was placed "outside" the normal merchant's room, and she said she did very well, and stayed open well past the room hours.

I looked to see what panels I would be hosting, and was surprised my first one was until 5:00pm. Hey! More convention to enjoy! And further investigation of the book not only proved to me that I didn't have a lot of programming, but there was a LOT of programming that other people had. Cheryl must have really pulled a lot together to pull this one off, bra-vo Cheryl! My 5pm panel was about the World Wide web, and I taught the class I taught at work, and about 6-9 people packed into the tiny computer room to attend the talk. We had all kinds of people from the experienced, to the novice, and I covered a broad range of topics. I will definitely host this panel again. The computer room was stacked with all kinds of 486's and Pentiums, and even an SGI "O2" Web Server, a $7500 machine, not including the 21" monitor or the camera. Already, people were networking Quake and shooting each other in a 3-D death match.

Then I had to plan for opening ceremonies, whereupon an old friend stopped by to discuss his girlfriend situations. It never ceases to amaze me how people's lives can be so interesting, and I became entrapped by my friend's story about long distance relationships and fraternity brothers. But I managed to get a list of what Cheryl wanted said at OC, and also who may be attending. There would be a reunion of "The Mad Women of Schlock", starring two of my friends, Missie Plotkin and Marni Berger, who told me she was now editing Hollywood scripts full time. It was great seeing them again! Also, I got to see a long-lost FanTek member, Eden Miller, who showed me her tattoos and shared some stories about New York. It was great seeing her, too, since I hadn't seen her in over four years! She's doing costuming for the stars on Broadway and films. So OC opened, I had my list, and they played "Tiny Bubbles" again. Why the hell they play that song for me year after year, I have no clue. I don't even know Don Ho... oh, well. I got to see Tynie in his pink bunny suit again, and made some "Oh, Ralphie," jokes at his expense. The Mad Women sung about EveCon, and Emperor Tad reminded everyone to call home, take their prescribed medicine, eat, drink water, and sleep. We were done and out of there by 8:35, making way for the LARP Opening Ceremonies.

It seemed EVERYONE I knew was playing in that LARP. I almost wished I'd signed up for it. Oh, well. I think it was one of the high points of the convention. The night went on, and I helped out here and there, and attended a few panels, one on the New FanTek BBS, soon to be out on the Internet, and available both through dial-up and Telnet. Disconnect explained what was going to happen, and if he pulls it off, I will be very pleased. One thing I noticed was that there was NO Rocky Horror, and many people blamed it on me. Well, *I* planned for it! But they showed Tromeo and Juliet, and to be fair, Troma was at the convention in full force, so I don't blame them for the shameless self-promotion. Another downside was that Strange Tea's best Rocky player, Brad Redding, had gotten in on some once-in-a-lifetime band gig, and had to pull out at the last minute. It wouldn't have been the same without him because my voice gives out way before his does. So I went to attend/play the "Duke Nuk'em 3-D" Tourney. After that, I went to bed.

Saturday, I got up early for breakfast. I, for some reason, was snoring louder than usual, and people in my room complained about it. If my snoring was anything like my mother's, I am surprised they didn't throw me out. Christine said she wasn't having much fun, and would probably leave, and to find a ride home. I don't blame her. A lot of our old friends totally snubbed her for some reason, and she wasn't getting any sleep in the hotel beds. CR balked at this, since he was having a lot of fun with Heather. I often saw the two together, playing with the video games a lot. Jedi told me that Heather asks for weeks before the convention if CR will be there. I still can't get over how cute she is, calling me "Mr. Punkie" and my wife "Miss Christine". So I planned a ride home on Sunday, but Christine decided to stay anyway, if for anything, for CR's sake. It turned out later this would be a good thing for FanTek.

I paroused the crowded (with customers!) merchant's room, and saw a lot of things I wanted. Too bad I had no money! I sold a book, but spent it right away on a wand for my son, who wanted it real bad (it's the clear plastic kind where the stars and glitter are in some kind of clear syrup, and slowly sparkle down when you hold it). Thank you to Sylvia, who sold the book to someone (who asked and received my signature). I got to talk with Dick Preston of the S.T.A.R. Foundation, and he gave me a lot of free posters and magazines. I also attended my friend Eric Silverhand's panel about pseudo-science, which was packed, and became a heated debate between those who had faith in Alien Visitation, and those who did not. It was a talk worthy of the Discovery Channel or PBS. I really enjoyed it. I think the only thing that was not so good about it was that one guy, whom a lot of the FanTek people know, was screaming loudly and demanding attention to himself, getting angrier and angrier that no one agreed with him. This person (whose name I always forget) I was told by Bruce and Cheryl if he ever acted up again, to notify them, which I did. I don't know what Bruce did about it, but he followed him to a Moyers panel.

The evening brought the masquerade, which was hosted by the always lovely Adrienne Reynolds, and her podium du-convention. We had about 11 participants, a fair number, some of whom had good costumes. This time, faced with yet another 100 or so extra award certificates, I made the audience stand up, and turn around, and then gave them all awards. Some of the awards I gave were:

After much boo-ing by some of the worse puns I made, I headed off to do some social mingling, and later tried to teach my son how to swim for the next two hours. Heather and some girl name Michaela (sp?) helped out a LOT, but my son has a lot further to go. One of his drawbacks is that he hates getting water on his face. After I got him to the point where he could walk comfortably at the shallow end, that wore him out to the point of crankiness. Then I put him to bed, and went to the dance, hoping to meditate to the black noise like cleanses me like a warm flame (the poetic part of this report). I must admit I am more of a techno-industrial fan (sounds like a part you can order for a cooling unit, doesn't it?), and the dance was, well... a little flat. I was told this was due to some psychodrama between someone running the dance and the tech crew or some such nonsense, but after a few songs, I felt like I was in some cheesy DC bar for single yuppies, so I left, and had in depth conversations with people while I helped baby-sit Security Central. I was determined to stay up as late as possible so that I could let my wife and my roommate (Amira, and her friend Velvet) sleep for a while without having to hear me snore. I finally was losing coherency about 4:30am, and so I crashed back into the room. It turns out they stayed up until 3-4 anyway talking. Oh well, I didn't snore as much, apparently.

Sunday. I hate Sundays at conventions. First, you wake up around 10-11am, knowing you have to pack your shit together, and then checkout. A note was taped to our door that said, "4pm checkout", I knew our room was exempt. I had a reading at 11am, which was attended by the filkers Electro and Steve Brinich (sp?). I read a little from "Punk Walrus and the Very, Very Ugly Idol", and spent the rest of the time talking. Then it was time to get ready for the art auction.

I really try to stay out of conflicts. Years ago, someone was spreading a rumor that I like to pit people against each other and watch them fight. Ever since that, I have been REALLY cautious of getting in anyone's way, since that is the LAST thing I want to be involved in, or blamed for. Usually, two people fight in front of you, and if you don't make yourself scarce, you'll somehow get sucked up in it. I think the most uncomfortable thing for me to be near is two people fighting, since my parents did that a lot as a kid, and causing people to fight is so far from any goal I have in life, it is uncomfortable for me to think I was accused of this. Now, baring this in mind, everyone who attended had their own version of what happened at the Art Show. I have heard all kinds of things, so keep in mind what I am about to explain is the best, most neutral way to put things as I saw them.

At HalloweenCon, Suzi said she wasn't doing the art show any more. This she told me directly. I was told by Andrea was going to take it over, with Suzi helping her by overseeing operations, giving guidance, and handing the reigns to Andrea. I don't know where I heard this information, but it didn't seem true, since I didn't see Suzi much at the convention, and certainly not near the art show. For that matter, after Saturday evening, I didn't see Andrea much, either. I am not sure where she was, since her husband was looking for her most of Sunday. Christine had been volunteering for the art show, and like the other volunteers, she was hearing a lot of mumbo-jumbo angry muttering from the artists. One of the problems was that when they signed in their art, they were supposed to bind by a contract, and the rules kept changing from what they signed. In all the art shows I have seen at the conventions, mostly after three bids, something goes to auction. It's a standard. A lot of FanTek Art shows have reduced this to two, or even one bid, simply so that the auction has more than three pieces up for grabs. By Saturday, Andrea announced to me the rules had changed, and were going to stay: If a piece gets 3 bids, it is sold to the third bidder, no auction for it. This, to me, seemed rather ludicrous, since this would prevent any artist doing well by putting them at a glass ceiling. Some savvy buyers were actually convincing others to bid over them , so they could be the third bidder, and thus assured getting the piece. The second bidder would just be a dummy bid. Bruce and or Cheryl then talked with Andrea, and Bruce declared that *ALL* pieces would go to auction. ALL pieces? There were like 120 pieces in the art show! I was told to do the auction really, really, fast. Not exactly conducive for squeezing money from the bidders, or creating a sense of excitement. Some artists got very upset, and asked me not to enter their stuff in the auction unless it had a bid. I told them that I was not in charge of that, I was just the auctioneer who did what he was told, but as expected, that didn't make them very happy. One artist told me she'd be humiliated if her pieces, which no one bid on, were to be publicly not bid on in the auction. To top this off, the program book conflicted as to which room it was going to be in, and the room that it ended up being in was small, cramped, and hot.

I managed to do it. Some artists hated me, and I empathized with them, but orders is orders, and I had to auction every piece. The phrase "Going once... going twice... three times... NOT SOLD!" became so redundant, that people began to say it with me. The room kept getting hotter, and I couldn't lean on the tables because they were rickety. I got dizzy, and hoped I wouldn't faint (I didn't). But, to be the devil's advocate here, we did manage to sell 4 or 5 pieces that had no bids on them initially, and those with bids on them did go higher (notably the Griffin Kitties). But it wasn't worth it, IMHO. Bruce running in, going "faster, faster" was really angering the crowd, who kept telling me to slow down. People commented that Bruce stating all pieces going to auction and then complaining the auction was slow was the ultimate audacity. But in Bruce's defense, the hotel suddenly needed all their space back for some reason, and he had to shut down the rooms as quickly as possible.

I wanted to beat a hasty retreat because some of the artists were holding me personally responsible for this travesty, either that or wanting me to commiserate about how badly everything was run, yatta yatta ya... I didn't want the convention to end with me being pummeled or blamed for a budding artist's demise, so I just kept quiet. Luckily, most of my friends understood, but some of them were taking it a bit to the extreme. I wasn't really mad at anyone, and really, as Bruce once told me, hating someone does no good, because the person you hate rarely cares, and you end up doing all the work. Then Andrea entered the lobby from the outside, and came directly to me, and asked me if there was a lynch mob for her yet. I told her some artists weren't happy. She asked if the art show was being taken down, and I said it was, even though it was already down (my wife felt bad for Creon and helped him, which is why I left later than I thought I would), but I didn't know if all the work was done. She told me that she knew that Creon and friends wouldn't let her down. I'm not sure what she meant by that, but she wheeled away. Christine then told me she volunteered for running the art show next CastleCon, figuring that Andrea would not be running it. Cheryl agreed, and my wife will be running the next art show with two assistants, Torcstan, and I think CJ. Then, for some reason, there was a force of artists who said everything was Suzi's fault, and they kept asking me "Why did she do this?" and I told them she wasn't running the show, but Andrea was. I don't think they believed me, but what can you do?

Despite the last few hours I was there, the convention was a good one for me. I know they want CastleCon to be closer to DC, and I heard rumors (rumors, mind you) that two places may be in Rockville, MD or Fair Oaks, VA. It all depends on if Bruce gets better, and what the hotels do.

But I'll be there! Thank you one and all for everything. Julie, I hope you feel better! And if you're an artist, Christine has assured me that we will treat all artists with the utmost respect.

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