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CONVENTIONS: REPORTS Descriptions and pictures of past cons.

Oasis 15 '02

Con Report by Pagadan

Oasis 15 Con Report
by Joy V. Smith

We got a late start Friday, but the drive to Orlando wasn't too bad--some congestion; we missed some panels, the space station update, Meeting Ben Bova,a painting demonstration, and Creature By Committee, which I always enjoy. (Several artists work on two paintings which are auctioned off later.) We registered quickly; there was no line. After dropping off our luggage, I dumped my yearly collection of SF stuff at the freebie tables and at the charity auction table.

We checked out the Art Show; the selection was wonderful--not just paintings and prints. I loved those cute kitten (already sold) prints; the lovely winged leopard (you have never seen so many winged creatures!); the cartoon, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (just their feet and tails are showing in adjoining toilet stalls); Michael Conrad's Adam's Quest (Michelangelo's creation painting adaptation with space ship--very impressive); Garden Gateway (cat looking into space through a tunnel), ... There were lots of dragons, horses, cats, wolves, fairies, some furry art, also Angel, Buffy, Xena, Dr. Who, et al. The art was mostly fantasy. Since it was still setting up, we couldn't vote yet.

At the freebies tables, I picked up Evolution stickers (left over from last year, I believe), flyers, an issue of Locus, and a number of other things. Later, there were Scooby Doo pins (four designs). Then I checked out the Dealer's Room. They had books (I got some theme anthologies), jewelry, signed trading cards (not sports, but comics, pulp magazines, SF& Fantasy), videos (I got the Buffy musical episode--with Hush) , DVDs, tee shirts, some comics, and the occult--packs of tarot cards, runes, even brooms (cobweb and hearth brooms, actually).

I also stopped by the Sun Quest table. They run the games at Oasis, which I'm not into, but what I found fascinating was the computer program they have for creating characters. This program, which is being tested, cuts down the time for creating characters from about two hours (on paper) to three-quarters to an hour. It helps them make choices and develop their characters. The most popular characters are humans, elves, half-elves, and dwarves. There is a wide selection of games, including cyber punk and a primitive culture. (They're described in the program.)

We also zipped up to the con suite, where they had snacks, seafood linguini, and drinks. The chili contest was upcoming, and I never miss a chili contest if I can help it, so we went back to our room for a short while. Back at the chili contest, I sampled Road Kill, Fowl Wind II, and Biohazardous Waste (very hot). There was also an I Hate Chili category: a delicious fudge brownie.

Next we voted in the art show contest (hard choices), and then we went to the Opening Ceremonies at 7:30 PM. These are always refreshingingly brief (would you believe, 15 minutes). The co-chairs, Terry Dahl and Jim Rogers, announced that the con is dedicated to the memory of Bill Resnick, a longtime fan and active member of OASFiS (There is a great tribute to him in the program, written by his son, Mike Resnick.) and introduced the GoH, Ben Bova; the artist GoH, Mike Conrad; and the Filk GoH, Michael Longcor, also special guests James P. Hogan and Barbara Delaplace.

Next up was the Filk Concert at 8 PM. There were other things to do too; the gaming rooms were available 24 hours, and the video room (Arthur's Oasis 15) was open till after midnight with a diverse selection (cartoons, Dr. Who, The Tick, Wallace and Grommit, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Black Adder: Back and Forth, and lots more. (I'm sorry I couldn't finish Daria/Is It College Yet?)

Michael Longcor started off his concert with The House of the Rising Sun, but with different lyrics, including Itsy Bitsy Spider and the Mickey Mouse Club and Gilligan's Island themes--very funny. He continued with a Von Helsing song (written for a vampire album that never happened); The Lycanthrope, Lowdown Silver Bullet Blues; Tecumseh; a song about an aged swordsman, which I loved; Chain Mail Mama Blues; The Truck-Driving Vampire song (country western horror); When I Was A Boy (classic written by Frank Hayes); a song about the first world con (sung to Will You Still Need Me); Imagination; and others. He wrote most of them. And I must share this Florida joke--Why did the chicken cross the road? To show the armadillo it could be done..

After that was one of my favorite panels, Alien Artifacts. The panelists were Mike Conrad, Jeff Mitchell, Mike Resnick, James P. Hogan; it was moderated by Barbara Delaplace, whose job it is to keep these feisty professors in line... Conrad used his funny telepathic personna again. The first object was surrealistic. Conrad said it was a petrified booger; Resnick disagreed and used his shoe to demonstrate that it was an alien shoehorn. The next artifact was a glass with lid. Resnick showed how it was a flashlight. Conrad said that it was a petrified tornado, which was worshipped as a god.

Then there was a flexible plastic thingie. Do not attach to the frontal lobes, warned a panelist (Forbidden Planet reference). The phone with cord was described as a small slave ship, a game, and a medical instrument which you swallowed and then pulled it out by the cord. (Conrad started out with Hello, Miss Cleo.) The wood, pointed thingie led to a number of phallic jokes.

The water pistol was described as a primitive weapon by Conrad, who filled it with water from the pitcher on the table, to show how the water added weight. Mitchell demonstrated how it was used as an ear cleaner; and Hogan said that it measured IQ and showed how that was done. The big jar of macaroni was given a fun twist by Conrad who used a lot of sphagetti terms to describe it. (I loved that!) Mitchell, however, said that it was explosives, which were hollow for the fuse; and someone said it was a brain.

The small elbow pipe was a space periscope for the Hubble telescope, Conrad said. The wooden spoon was used in a game on asteroids, said Conrad, describing it. Hogan, in an aside, said that hemorrhoids should be called asteroids. Possibly a golf club, suggested someone. Funny sexual references abounded. Delaplace said that there will be no cylindrical objects next year.

After this panel, we checked out the con suite (a veggie tray had been added) before denning up. There were always people eating and talking there.

Saturday morning we had breakfast (selection of doughnuts, cookies, fruit, the makings of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and orange juice and soda) in the con suite. There was a short line at the registration table when we passed by on the way to the Art Show, where I put a bid on a framed wolf print. (I passed the con committee workers frequently; they were always busy somewhere with something.) There I saw the two Creature by Committee works: a dinosaur attacking and being attacked in the city and Neither Fish Nor Fowl Nor Good Red Herring. (I'd have loved to see them being created; the artists and audience have lots of fun.)

In the hallway I met Ernest Hams carrying a partially finished chain mail top, which he makes from split key rings. (I believe there were 11,000 of them in the top.) It's lighter, but just as strong as the regular mail, he told me, and doesn't limit movement. He let me try it on; it's fairly heavy; I've love to compare it to the regular mail used in the SCA. It's an expensive hobby, he said.

I had to wait for the Blast Off! Propulsion Methods panel to finish up before Tough Chicks, my next panel. The panelists were Will Ludwigsen, Jack McDevitt, Linda Evans, Diana Gallagher, Barbara Delaplace, Adam-Troy Castro, and Colleen O'Brien (moderator). She asked for favorites. Delaplace said her favorite tough chick is Sara Pacini (sp) of Witchblade. Gallagher said that up to this year, it was Buffy. Evans said any Heinlein heroine. McDevitt chose Sheena (1941). Ludwigsen picked Scout Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird), and Castro chose Irene Adler (Sherlock Holmes).

Is the current crop of tough chicks just a passing fancy? asked the moderator. McDevitt thought that characters with no fear won't last because real courage involves being bright too. Ludwigsen said that too often they're just men with breasts. Someone mentioned Robert Parker's new female PI as an example. Castro said that they need personality. Hollywood has just gone to the other extreme.

Other examples of tough women: Judy Dench (sp) as M in James Bond. Castro mentioned the old woman (Lillian Gish) in Night of the Hunter. McDevitt pointed out that the early heroines in films, such as Dale Arden in Flash Gordon, who fainted a lot, were not good role models for little girls growing up--too limited. Delaplace said that Diana Rigg in The Avengers, whom she saw when in her teens, was tough, smart, and beautiful; she widened her horizons.

And she pointed out that Pearl S. Buck's women were really strong; Evans mentioned the mother in The Bad Seed. There were some other great examples, including Ripley in Aliens, plus some interesting contributions from the audience. Ludwigsen had a good question. What kind of man do you pair a touch chick with? And an audience member mentioned the resistance of other women to tough women. Lots of good discussion here.

After the panel, we had lunch at the restaurant (expensive), took half to the room for supper, then browsed the dealers' room and the Art Show again. (Someone topped my bid!) Besides the registration (which continued through the day), freebies, Sun Quest, and the charity auction/Star Trek tables, there was the USS Guardian Starfleet table in the hall. They sold $5.00 grab bags to benefit The Enchanted Forest Nature Sanctuary near the Kennedy Space Center.

Later I caught the end of the trivia contest, which preceded the Andre Norton scholarship charity auction, next on my agenda. The categories included Damon Knight and Spiderman, and the winners got dealers' bucks: 20, 30, and 50 bucks. (Hey, if I'd known that...) . The auction started late because the items had to be brought in, so the chili contest winners were announced while we waited. Fen's Choice was Road Kill chili by Bonny Beall. Cthulhu's Choice (the hottest) was Biohazardous Waste by Tammy. (No contest there!)

There was no scholarship winner this year, and you got to choose whether to donate your purchase price to the medical fund of Jeanette Spencer or the scholarship for next year. The auction was long, as auctions are, and not everything was sold. (There were some disappointed people.) Items included paintings, prints, books-- many of them signed, old con tee shirts, jewelry, Star Trek plates (beautiful colors) and action figures. (I got Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem by Lois McMaster Bujold. I'd been wanting that.)

I stopped by the Hot Media Picks panel next. The panelists were Frank Dowler, of Radio Sci-Fi, Steve Parady, Castro, Gallagher, and Juan Sanmiguel (moderator) The best recent genre movie was Spiderman (interesting early script anecdote)--the consensus, as I recall. Re TV shows, Gallagher reiterated her opinion of Buffy--not this year; she no longer loves it. Someone said that Alias is overly complicated. In Smallville, Lex Luthor is interesting. There will be books based on Smallville, including one by Gallagher. More media background, which is always interesting.

After the supper break, we went to the costume contest. Mike Conrad was the emcee again 'cause he's great at it. The judges were Linda Evans, Richard Lee Byers, and Steve Parady. (Conrad picked Parady out of the audience because Hogan had been delayed.) Ann Morris was responsible for the costume contest, btw. (The con people work their tails off doing everything!) Before the contest, the Art Show winners were announced. In the Fantasy category, Phoenix by Stan Morrison was first; The Catalyst by Conrad was second; and Tropical Temptation by Morrison was third. In the SF category, Adam's Quest by Conrad was first; Guiness World of Records by Conrad (it's a mural on the Guiness World of Records building on International Drive, btw) was second; and Star Wars I by Stevens was third. Best of Show was Alien Attack! by Conrad. (I have the print, and I'd love to have the original.)

While we waited for the costume contest to begin, we were entertained by filker Longcor. (I loved his swashbuckler outfit.) After the parade of entrants, Longcor sang again as the judges made their decisions. We sang the Sing Along Song, and he sang When I Was A Boy by request. (Great song.) There was also a drawing for three prizes by the Enchanted Forest group.

And the winners of the costume contest are: First: Amber Strongbow (she wore a beautiful Scottish warrior costume) Second: Egraine (sp) (lovely lady) Best in Show: Senator Amidala Special awards went to Esmerelda, Arthur Dent (nice towel, Arthur!), and Pythos (sp).

And then was more filking. Longcor loves being in Florida, btw, and he loved visiting the space center, where Jim Rogers took him, as I recall. (Space port, space port!) More great songs, including the old wizard's song from the Mercedes Lackey companion album to Owlflight, the Mowgli song, a couple dog songs (I read about a dog song in his program bio and requested one), and Imagination (by request). We bought two of his CDs; one is Rudyard Kipling poems (I love Kipling) set to music.

My last panel was Barbara Delaplace's Mystery Hour. Here the panelists, Conrad, Resnick, Ann Morris, Rick Wilber, Jeff Mitchell and Vince Courtney tell two truths and one lie. Panelists and audience try to figure out which is the lie. (We vote at the end.) These people have fantastic truths and lies. (The lie is usually partially true.) The panel ran overtime. There was so much background to fill in! Then I headed straight for bed, but not Sex at 11, the latest and lustiest panel.

Sunday morning people were still registering for the con. The gaming rooms were busy every time I walked by. After breakfast at the con suite (chili, cheese sauce, donuts, snacks, and drinks), we loaded the car and checked out. Then we traipsed back, visited the Art Show (my wolf print is heading to auction because it has three bids) and congratulated Mike Conrad on his win. The dealer room isn't open yet. I pre-registered for Oasis 16. (I save some money by doing that.)

While I was busy, my companion bought three little Conrad prints AND then she upped her bids on some art. The next panel is Books to Movies, but it's not ready yet, so she headed for the Dealers' Room. The panelists were Bova, Hogan, Evans, Owl Goingback. O'Brien is the moderator. Her first question: Did a movie ever do justice to a book? Evans says Logan's Run, which was better than the book. Hogan says Hunt for Red October (better ending than the book). He adds that movies don't handle depth or complexity well and that mysteries don't adapt well.

This panel covered a lot of territory with a Maltese Falcon anecdote, background on writing (rights, contracts, agents, the aborted McCaffrey project, ...) There were a number of good audience comments and questions. (So much more I'd love to share, but there's not enough space--what Clarke said about the meaning of the ending of 2001, the kid wishing they'd make movies PG so he could see them, how Hogan became a writer, ...)

While waiting for the Art Auction, I visited the Dealers' Room (a tireless con worker is there picking up dealers' bucks) and came across some CDs of poetry from Masterharper of Pern set to music. (Website: www.directorshut.com ) My companion bought some jewelry. I noticed a new flyer on the bulletin board for the 14th Annual Crystal Reel Awards (Florida the Future of Production) held in June at Walt Disney World.

At the Art Auction I learned that the art is mostly mailed in and must be shipped back to Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, ... And I learned that there were a few glitches in the con program--some times were wrong. (Not bad considering some of the problems I've read about at different cons.) The auction begins--so many beautiful works of art and jewelry. I got my print, Spirit of the North, for only $6.00. Other works by the same artist wemt higher. Lots of good buys and some spirited bidding. After the art auction, they sold some leftover charity auction items, but I headed off for my next panel.

I was fortunate enough to catch the end of Steve Parady's demonstration: Bryce Instant Art for the Lazy Artist. It's about computer art. Bryce 4 (5 is the latest version) is a software program. Beautiful artwork and colors and useful for animation. Some enthusiastic people there.

It's Not Only Harry panelists are Owl Goingback and Richard Lee Byers (moderator). (Elenora Sabin was scheduled, but she was in the hospital having surgery; it would have been her first panel, and she had been looking forward to it and the con.) They discuss writing for children and young adults. Goingback's work mostly isn't targeted for kids, but he doesn't use big, complicated words because the education level is lower today, so young readers can read his work. Interesting background on their reading and the limitations imposed by some editors, also writing advice. Respect their intelligence; don't talk down to them. R.L. Stine is a stepping stone. Fascinating discussion with audience input.

But finally it's time to go. I've never stayed for the closing ceremonies because I have to get home and get to work. I'd like to sometime. And there were still things happening. I'm looking forward to next year.

The End