Con Report by Gandalara
HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION
I went to Bucky-World!
I arrived in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon, and since our Days Inn reservation didn't start until Sunday, I spent the night at the Courtyard by BWI. After being told that I could use my lap-top, and after discovering that I couldn't make it work, I watched a movie and went to bed.
Bright and early Sunday, I took a taxi to the Inner Harbor, preregistered at the Days Inn, stashed my luggage, and took a walk down to the water. Since it was still early, I practically had the place to myself. I spied a Hard Rock Cafe in the distance, so I hiked off to see if it was open. I passed the Aquarium on the way, but it wasn't open yet. I bought a pin from the H.R.C. (I collect them), and then walked back towards the shops around the water. Found T-shirts that said 'Don't bother me! I'm Crabby!' and thought of several people I could give them to. Bought a ticket to take a water tour, which turned out not to be worth it, except for seeing the Fort. It was good for getting situated, and figuring out where everything was, though. I people-watched the rest of the day, looking for strange SF T-shirts, but wasn't successful. The best moment of the day was when I was drinking beer (Oxford Wheat Raspberry, yum) on a balcony, and watched a waitress lose control of her ice tea pitcher, drenching the people below.
Went back to the hotel, determined to finally unpack and get settled in. Wonderful room, one bed, a desk, a hide-a-bed couch, a fridge, a coffee pot and a microwave! Not much drawer and closet space though. I'm hoping TAM doesn't bring much stuff <G> Opened up the couch to make sure there were sheets on it, and then I couldn't put it back together again. Gave up and called maintenance - it was missing the back legs. So I set up the computer...the front desk had told me to dial '5' on the modem. Wouldn't work. Sigh. Tried again. Started panicking. Maintenance showed up, and while he was fixing the couch (he stole some legs from another room), told me that the front desk was wrong and I had to dial '9'. Success! I'm in contact with the world again! Thanks, James :)
Had dinner down the street at the Wharf Rat, people-watched some more, tried several new beers, and made friends with the bartender. It's absolutely lovely weather, and I'm having a ball, but I miss my friends, so I go back to the room to sign on and chat for a while. When I start trying to drink my chocolate and eat my brandy, I know it's time for bed.
Monday morning, I want to ride the trolleys, and discover they only run Thursday through Sunday. Humph. So I hop onto a tour bus, and it was much better than the tour before. Saw Fell's Point, Little Italy, the original Washington monument and Poe's grave. They went by some sports stadiums, but so what? <g> The tour dropped us off near the Science Museum, so I walked on over. It's the sort that's called a 'hands-on' museum, basically for kids, but I had fun. Admission included an IMAX showing of the Everest movie - only made me dizzy in a few places, and I'd seen better. I thoroughly enjoyed the Davis Planetarium, also included with admission, which was a 25 minute presentation on Mars.
After the museum, I hopped on a water taxi and floated over to Fell's Point. Lots of funky little shops, lots and lots of bars, and lots of places 'not open on Monday'. I found a used book store and picked up a few Heinleins that I had been looking for. At a little sidewalk cafe I discovered alcoholic cider. Yum. Liked it enough to buy a 6-pack and lug it back to the hotel. Why can't I find these things on the West Coast?
Tuesday morning, I left TAM's key at the desk for her and walked over to the Hilton to volunteer my help at the Con office. They didn't really know what to do with someone who shows up at 9 AM. I put the names on the mailboxes, and then walked over to the convention center to see if I could help there, and to get my badge. I helped make highway signs (Aye 98), and then helped set up the Internet Lounge. If things didn't work there, don't blame me. Also got to meet Chaz the Webmaster (Hazel with the Bear Ears).
At 3:30, TAM was supposed to be coming in. Got back to the room early, and she's already there, asleep on the couch! Spunky lady - her ride fell through, so she rode a bus for 14 hours to get to Baltimore. I reached in a drawer and threw a beany-baby squid at her, and then gave her a cold cider to wake up. Tried to phone a woman we were supposed to have dinner with, but she never called back. So we took the water taxi over to Fell's Point for dinner. The place we picked was quite nice and right on the water, but the prices blew us away. So we had wine and.....calimari appetizers. Walked around through the shops, and after finding an ice cream shop, caught the last boat back to Inner Harbor. All the night lights were on (neon waves on the Aquarium), and it looked pretty, motoring back in. When we got back to the room, I showed TAM what a pain in the backside lap-tops can be.
Wednesday morning - the Con begins! While TAM registers, I wander around looking for freebies and getting orientated. The dealer's room isn't open yet. I hear my name being called, and there's Shadow and Chip. *Cool*. Finally. So I threw beany-baby squids at them.
The sign-up sheet for the Koffeeklatches was supposed to be available at noon, but we lucked out and they opened it early while we're standing there. We all got into what we wanted, plus I signed up VVanP for the two he wanted (you owe me, Jim, when you become rich and famous!). We went to a panel called 'Great Forgotten Authors', and it was basically like an O*W*C chat, except I didn't pick up any new names.
Next stop was the Opening Ceremonies, where I finally got to meet Patterner. I threw a beany-baby squid at her, and she gave us O*W*C stickers and Bookworm stickers. Earlier, Patt dropped off 20 pounds of books-to-be-autographed at my hotel, that I had UPS'd to her earlier. Thanks, Patt :) The Ceremonies were alright, but the microphones weren't loud enough, and personally I thought all the pirate songs were boring. Not enough rousing drinking songs. Never once heard 'Yo, ho, ho, ho...a pirate's life for me'. But we did have gold doubloons thrown at us. After the Ceremonies, I went to 'How Do Authors Collaborate', which had AC Crispin and Elizabeth Moon as part of the panel. Quite good. We all had dinner at the Sports Bar across from the convention center, and found out it used a different kitchen than the Wharf Rat. Horrible food...nachos with bar-b-que sauce? Please!
Later, we all met up at the Hilton for a few drinks (with a horrible piano player), and to check out the Fan Lounge. No one was there that we knew, so we all went our separate ways. TAM and I tried to hit every bid party we could find. They were all held at the Holiday, and there were pink flamingos everywhere, the mascot of the Boston for Orlando bid. We have the stickers to prove we made it to the Orlando, Philly, San Francisco, and Toronto parties...we couldn't find a sticker for Seattle, but we were there. Best party of the night, IMO, was Philly...humongous hoagies, bananas dipped in chocolate, and free beer. They were also the friendliest bunch of people.
Thursday morning, I had thought the dealer's room opened at 10, and when I got down there, discovered it didn't open until 10:30. While standing there, peeking through the curtains, someone tugged on my sleeve, and a voice said "Do you know where the Viking ship is?" Oh my, it's Elizabeth Moon, talking to me. Couple of minutes later, Steve Stirling joins us. Couple of minutes later, Connie Willis and her daughter join us. Couple of minutes later, Harry Turtledove and his whole family join us. Elizabeth Moon and Steve Stirling start doing a strange little shuffle dance, waving their arms around, singing something about royalties. Elizabeth Moon shows me the draft of her next book, so I can see all the mistakes the copy editors made. Karen's in heaven. It was after this, that Chip threatened to thwap me for being too 'perky' <g>
Then I went up to a panel called 'Tips for New Writers' to see VVanP as a panelist. The room was jammed-packed. I waited until it was over so I could introduce myself. We met, I told him about the O*W*C meeting at noon Saturday, and that's the last we saw of each other. But I did get to meet Janet Kagan who was sitting in the audience.
I wandered back to the dealer's room for awhile, bought JDipale a few books, and got Charles Sheffield and AC Crispin to sign them in the hall. Ran into Patt on my way to the cement ashtray, and finally met AChevron, who'd had to catch up on her sleep before she could enjoy the convention. Threw a beany-baby squid at her. Then it was time to hike on over to the Marriott for a koffeeklatch with Connie Willis for an hour, and following that, a KK with Elizabeth Moon. These KK's are great - one author, ten people, and you just gab for an hour, plus it's very easy to get your books autographed too. :) Then I trotted back to the convention center to introduce myself to Mike Flynn, and to snag his autograph on 2 books. Shadow and Chip did me a big favor getting my Barry Longyear's book signed while I was at the Marriott. Thank you :)
Then it was time to get cleaned up and meet in front of the convention center, to go the Crab Feast. Patt, TAM and I were driven over to the Science of Industry Museum, and given wooden mallets. They sent us through a buffet line to get the food and drink, and when you sat down at the brown-paper-covered table, they'd come along and throw about 30 cooked crabs onto the table. Messy. Interesting. Too much spice. I concentrated on getting my money's worth by drinking beer, after trying 2 crabs. I'll stick to the deli-crab, already shelled, from the store. They did have a wonderful chocolate cake there, and Patt taught us how to eat lemons with peppermint sticks. <g>
After shuttling back to the convention center, TAM and I went to the Omni to meet up with Shadow and Chip. And then it was off to the Marriott for The Grand Illusion Disco. We were having a great time, stuffing party favors in our purses, drinking unknown drinks, making comments about the strange costumes and the amount of leather (REG!), and then the hotel fire alarm went off at about 12:15 AM. Picture the Marriott parking lot: firemen rushing around, hotel employees in uniform, people in costumes of leather and chain, in costumes of netting and fairy wings, and little old mundane ladies in their nightgowns and slippers. Never did find out the cause, and they let us back in about 30 minutes later.
Friday morning, I went to one of the best panels of the con, IMO. 'Women Who Write SF', with Sarah Zettel doing an Oprah/Phil Donahue-type moderator job. Also got to meet Amy Thomson (another autograph!) after the panel. Also tried to get Robert Silverburg's autograph, but the line was halfway around the dealer's room. TAM took my Melissa Scott book with her to the KK, and got it autographed for me. Thanks, TAM. I went and bought some Steele books and stood in a shorter line for Allen :). Someone had warned him I was coming...when it was my turn, he looked up and said "Oh, so *you're* Karen." Uh oh. Had a nice conversation, and he gave me a shoulder patch. Wished him luck on the Hugos. Then I went over to listen to the Analog M.A.F.I.A Ragtime band. Um, I didn't listen too long, since the Charity Auction was starting at the same time. Saw Patt there, since she was handling money at the back of the room. I only bid on 1 or 2 items, there weren't enough books for auction, and things were going for a lot more money than they did at LosCon. So I went to the 'Religion and SF Fandom' panel for awhile. Also had my first sighting of "Filthy Pierre", while I was placing my vote for the 2001 WorldCon.
At the Hugos - I found Patt, and we saved 2 seats, but TAM and AChevron never found us. It was exciting - 3 people I voted for actually won! Same microphone problems as at the Opening Ceremony, and Sheffield mumbles. But with the big screens it was easy to see. Connie Willis is a very funny presenter. The lady is a hoot. Bob Eggleton was *really* excited to win, I thought he was going to start doing flips on the stage. I was happy they kept it quick, no long acceptance speeches like at the Oscars!
I found TAM outside, standing by my cement ashtray. We went to our hotel to grab the brandy and chocolate, and walked back down to the convention center to catch a shuttle to Patt and AChevron's hotel, which was 6 or 7 blocks away. An Omni shuttle bus appeared, and the driver offered to take us up there. Seems he was a closet SF fan, who really loves it when Baltimore has conventions. Patt and AChevron's room was totally filled with food. A whole bureau drawer full of bread! A complete ham! Turkey! Fresh fruit! Geez, I shouldn't have eaten dinner... Shadow showed up about 11, with Little Shadow in tow. Patt had her laptop on the bed, already in the O*W*C and we proceeded to create chaos in Chip's chat, all typing under Patt's name. I learned later I was blamed for a lot of stuff I didn't say. Honest, I was sitting by the window, drinking brandy. Shadow and I both had a nicotine fit at the same time, so we went downstairs and let Little Shadow yell at taxi cabs. When we went back up, the party was slowing down, so we shared a taxi to Shadow's hotel, and then to ours. Baltimore is not a city you want to walk around in at night.
Saturday morning, I went to CJ Cherryh's Guest of Honor Speech for awhile, but ended up back down in the dealer's room. At noon, all the O*W*Cer's (most of us wearing the award-winning T-shirt <g>) met at the bottom of the escalators to have our picture taken by BG1818, who had lost track of time. JJBrannon showed up and finally went to go find BG. We took several pictures with BG's camera and with Patt's camera. At 1 PM, many of us went to Mike Flynn's 'How To Lie With Statistics' panel, which was hilarious. Then I had to run over to the Marriott for a KK with Sarah Zettel (more autographs! New book coming out!) and also met JATAR from AOL in the same KK, but couldn't talk to him long since I had a KK with AC Crispin. When I got back to the convention center, I found that I had missed meeting T83BIRD and his wife. Rats. Many Tos words.
At the 'Who's Next?' Panel, the O*W*C's own VVanP was named as a writer to watch out for. Yay! But I'm tired, I'm going back to the hotel to rest and wash my hair.
The Masquerade started at 8, and I got there early to people-watch. TAM, Shadow, Patt and I all sat together to make comments. 'StarGate' was funny, and 'Booty and the Beets' was punny. Marty Gear caused a little excitement with his fall off the stage, and very little excitement with his vampire jokes. Too bad the computer running the light show went kaplooey. Shadow and I took a few cigarette breaks, and I found the bar. Too bad it wasn't advertised a little more. The bartenders were really complaining about not having any customers. There were TV's out in the bar area, so you didn't miss any of the show. The contest went on much too long with over 50 entries; and it wasn't really a Masquerade, it was performance art. I was glad to see The Huntress win Best of Show, even if it did fall over. While we were waited for the judging, we sat out in the bar area and Little Shadow took pictures of BucConeer Barbie and some of the other participants who were wandering around. It was finally over at 12:30, we were all hungry and tired, and went our separate ways.
Sunday morning - Oh no! It's almost over! I spent a last hour in the dealer's room, and then went to a panel called 'Gay Authors and Straight Authors Writing Gay Characters'. It was quite good, and the room was standing room only. Then I went to 'SF and Religion - Compatible or Incompatible' with James Morrow and Gene Wolfe, but had to leave early because I wanted a good seat for the 'Colonizing Space' panel with Landis, Haldeman (hey, Senator!), Moon, Sawyer and Steele. Humph. Steele didn't show up. Too much Hugo partying? It was an excellent talk. Landis is a lot funnier in person than he writes. And Haldeman too. :)
Then it was on to the Closing Ceremonies with TAM, Shadow and Little Shadow. More pirate filking and handing over the gavel to the Australians. More doubloons thrown at us. I don't want it to be over, even if I am tired and cranky! I went to a lot more panels than listed here, but I can't remember them all. Only two things were bad at this con, IMO: 1) the hotels being 1-3 blocks apart, and 2) no chairs and tables outside for the smokers. Don't they know our feet get tired too? It was much more low-key than I thought it would be, but it was excellent, a bang up job! Well done!
Home again. After 11 hours of delayed flights and boring airports. Sigh. It's 110 degrees and smoggy, and I've got laundry to do. How many days until NasFic 99? <G>