Con Report by Patterner
It was the best of cons, it was the worst of cons. At least in my con experience. This was my first Worldcon and I debated about going since the con would be so spread out. For those who haven't been following the story of my life, I'm disabled. I have trouble walking and I'm not very strong (partially paralyzed on the left, renal failure, lung damage, etc.). Baltimore turns out to be vastly unfriendly to the gimp on the street. The curb cuts are diagonal at the corners so you have to walk into traffic to use them, and the curbs are very high. The con couldn't help this, of course, and they did yeoman work of providing shuttle buses between the hotels and the convention center, including buses with lifts and buses that kneeled. The con also provided scooters & wheelchairs at cost to those who needed them, but I decided I didn't and I probably did.
The best parts of the con: meeting people I know from online (we got our O*W*C folk together for a picture, and I ran into a number of rasffians), hearing Mike Flynn's Statistics talk (thanks to Evelyn Leeper's Boskone review for making me go), seeing Allen Steele win another Hugo, talking with Melissa Scott about her books, and the magazine panel where Ellen Datlow valiantly defended online mags against the slings & arrows of print publishers.
The worst parts of the con: not meeting people I know from online, pain and exhaustion, only getting to the fan lounge once, only getting to the con suite once, not getting to any filking, not getting to any parties, and braving the streets of Baltimore, even just between the shuttle/taxi and the hotel/convention center. All of these bad parts come from the con being spread out and my disability. I voted for Orlando because of this, but I hear there's a hotel directly connected to the Philly convention center. I wonder if they take reservations this early?
Day by Day
My con started early when I picked up TAFF delegate Maureen Kincaid Speller and her husband Paul Kincaid at Dulles Airport on Sunday. We had a great three days together (with enough other fen taking them off so I could get packing and preparation done for the con) and headed out about noon on Wednesday. The "Surrender Dorothy!" graffiti was gone from the bridge, but they did get to see the Mormon temple in all its glory. We had an uneventful drive up and I dropped them at their hotel, dropped a 20-pound box of books for Gandalara at her hotel (she'd UPSed them to me and ended up having room for all of the signed books in her luggage to go home), and finally to my hotel, the Tremont Plaza. I had a nice handicapped accessible room with kitchen and cardiac chair. My con roommate, AChevron, came later and between us, we'd brought enough food to feed several families. I met O*W*C friends at opening ceremonies and found that Shadowjakk had signed me up for Melissa Scott's kaffeeklatsch, which was very nice of him. I had the jewelry for TAFF auction with me and left them with Mary Kay Kare in the art show room. We had a abysmal dinner at a restaurant across from the convention center (not the Wharf Rat) where the only really good food was the onion rings (my "nachos" had barbecue sauce on them) and then Shadow came with me to get the ceramics for auction. After we dropped those at the art show, we wandered off to the Hilton to meet the others and wait for the fan lounge to open. Madle's interview ran late, and the lounge opened late, and there wasn't anybody we knew there, so after making some small talk, I went to bed and the others went on to parties.
Thursday I went to a few panels, listened to Jordin Kare's concert, napped, went to the crab fest (please, no more Old Bay!) where I taught the others at our table how to open the crabs and passed out wet towelettes at appropriate moments, and then back to my room to host my chat. I ended up closing the chat 15 minutes early because I hurt too much. To bed and to sleep.
Friday morning became Friday afternoon as I measured how much I hurt and what I really wanted to do, so I started my con day at 1pm with Melissa Scott's kaffeeklatsch. She wasn't distracted by my beading, so I managed to occupy my hands enough to think intelligently. I enjoyed meeting her and the others at the table and Melissa agreed to come chat with O*W*C sometime soon. I went on to the combined charities auction which started late because Michael Whelan thought he had the room right until the time the auction was to start. I wrote receipts (good luck reading those, Mary Kay!) and kibitzed from the back of the room with the other clerks (Parris, and Dot Willis). Unfortunately, many of the folks at the auction left before we got to some of my jewelry, so it didn't bring in as much as I'd hoped, but it's still more than I could have afforded to give in cash so TAFF made out okay. Janice Gelb arrived after the Pretty in Pink set had been sold and she still wanted the earrings, so she gave TAFF some money and I promised her a pair when I got home. It turned out that Chris Marble's wife doesn't have pierced ears, so we worked it out that Janice would take the pierced earrings home and I would mail him earrings with clips (I've already started them, expect to mail tomorrow). I went back to the room for another nap and some beading and came back to the convention center in time for the Hugos. My choices won in about half the categories, which isn't bad, and I was pleased to see Allen Steele win another Hugo. Allen has been a regular with O*W*C for about five years and I contributed some minor bits to some of his books, but I'd never met him in person. After the awards, I wormed through the crowd to find him. I held out my hand and said "Congratulations!" and he shook my hand and said "Thanks!" with insufficient enthusiasm, so I aimed my badge at his face, and he shouted "MY GOD! MARILEE LAYMAN!" and about hugged the breath out of me. He had to go get pictures taken and I didn't see him again, but that was a nice few seconds. Our O*W*C folk retired to my room after the Hugos to eat some of the food, but not nearly enough of it. I had my notebook signed on to our chat and we took turns confusing the guests by all appearing on my screenname. Shadowjakk had gone home to get his almost-eight-year-old daughter and she was markedly bored by the grownups. When Shadowjakk & Gandalara had to feed their nicotine jones, we started shutting down and I got a brief eight pages read before I went to sleep.
Saturday morning I finally got to the con suite only to find a beading friend wasn't there and I left off our contribution and went on to the convention center. All the O*W*C folk met with one of our regulars, Locus photog BG1818, to have our picture taken and we got a few with my digital camera, too. After chatting, we broke up to different directions. Several of us went to Mike Flynn's statistics talk and after that, I finally got to the dealer's room. Never did make it to see the actual art show. I liked that there was a lot of books, but none were in alphabetical order and I can't stand long enough to search through. I bought puzzle animals for my niece & nephew, a cat fantasy magnet for the neighbor who watched my kitties, and 10 iridescent marbles that I'll make into netted earrings. Back to the room for another nap and more beading and a return to the convention center for the Masquerade. The sad and shocking part happened early when Marty Gear, attempting to show off the awards, apparently tripped and fell, bringing down the breakable awards with him. He seemed fine, but shaken, and they said they had extra awards and would replace those. Tech seemed to have problems with the lights so we were treated to way too many vampire jokes during the lulls. As usual, there were strange entries, confusing entries, and wonderful, beautiful entries. Dave Weingart and company were "Bootie and the Beets" and Eugenia Horne was "BucConeer Barbie." Both won awards. The really splendid piece was "The Huntswoman" with a mechanical/human riding beast and they won Best in Show. Probably the funniest one was the black monolith from 2001 with voiceover about all the questions the book left and then, as the monolith turned, the answer: 42. By the time the awards were announced, it was almost midnight and all I could do was to go to bed.
Sunday had nothing I really needed to see or do, compared with my pain, and so I slept in a bit, packed, and came home. Five loads of laundry, five hours of online, and half a pizza later, I went to bed. The kitties were more loving than usual, but didn't seem to be too angry at me. Today: more laundry, more unpacking, and more online.
I enjoyed what I could do at the con, but I didn't get to do things I wanted to do because they were too hard for me to get to at all the different hotels. It won't be possible for me to go to Australia or Chicago, so I'll have to think if the Philly Worldcon is sufficiently central or not. And I'll probably go anyway.