August 28, 2006

WorldCon report

Summary: I had a good time, but not so good that I'm saving my pennies for Tokyo next year. I'd go again, if it's close to home and I'm not doing anything else, or if it's somewhere I want to go anyway, or most especially if there are a group of people I want to meet up with there.

Program events: Somehow I only made it to three panels, I'm not sure why. Two were OK, but not terribly exciting, even the one with the big names on it. The third (Shakespeare and his influence on your writing) was the best by a long shot. It was more about Shakespeare, his own writing, and his experiences in fiction than about the title topic; I htink I enjoyed it most because all of the panelists engage with WS or think about him in their daily lives, either as writers, actors or teachers, so they were all passionate about the topic. (Especially in the case of Sheila Finch, who as a teenager got to see Richard Burton as Hamlet some 13 times at the Old Vic. Yum.) (Participants: Amy Sterling Casil (moderator), Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Mary A. Turzillo, Sheila Finch.)

High points: I really enjoyed the kaffeeklatches, where you get to sit aroung a table with an author or editor and 9-10 other people and just talk. Great access to interesting people - some of the other participant's comments would have been worth it all by themselves. The readings turned out to be similarly intimate, which I hadn't expected.
Disappointments: See panels, above. Also, there was so much stuff going on that every decision to see one thing involved missing others. I think the worst was the raffle: I'd expect that it wouldn't take long and I could go sing sea shanties, but isntead it took well over an hour and I eventually gave my tickets to someone and left so I could start driving home. (A good decision, as it happened.) I didn't win anything and I missed the singing.
Surprises: I sort of wandered into a talk by Tim Powers that I hadn't really planned to attend, and it was wonderful. I went to the Hugos more or less from a feeling that it was a must-see (giving up a trip to trip to Disneyland with Anghara and Deck to do so, one of the more painful trade-offs) to do so, but I quite enjoyed the Hugos. Scalzi didn't look as I'd expected from pictures I'd seen, incidentally.

Shopping: Incredible. Resulting in many more things I am not supposed to be buying because I already have too many of them (books, dichroic earrings) plus an incredibly detailed ojime bead of a dragon and cat. (But can you ever really have too many books or earrings?)

High points: The dichroic glass was much cheaper than I'd expect. And it took me forever to decide among the nutsuke and ojime on one table, because it was incredible stuff (and not terribly expensive).
Disappointments: None, really. Though it was surprisingly hard to find a copy of Jo Walton's Farthing. (The table where I finally found it was right in front but I'd started from the back.)
Surprises: How very much of it there was. And reasonably priced, too.

People-watching: Oh, yes. There is no getting around the fact that there were loads of funny-looking people at Worldcon. However, there were also loads of people you might expect to be funny looking, but weren't - some of the most outlandishly costumed people gave me the feeling that this was their preferred dress, with mundane clothes being something they were forced into the rest of the time. Lots and lots of people in wheelchairs or with canes; I think there are several reasons for it, and that the noted acceptance of all sorts of disabilities in in the community is only a part of it. For one, like rowing it's a lifetime interest, not something you're likely to only do at a certain age. Of course, unlike regattas, SF and fandom are things you can engage in despite disabilities (there is adaptive rowing, but only a few regattas have events). Also, I think maybe WorldCon is a big enough deal that some people who might find it difficult to get out much otherwise spend their energy on this.

High points: The swash and the swagger and the fun of the costumes.
Disappointments: I missed the masquerade, though for good reason. (I was enjoying myself talking to people at dinner.)
Surprises: I realized that there is really nothing in current fashion that flatters larger people as much as the sorts of costuming people wear to Renfaires and cons. A cloak hides a multitude of sins. A bodice that's fitted, supportive and revealing doesn't hide anything but goes one better by turning generous curves into decided (and enticing) assets. The male version can take someone who looks like Wally from the Dilbert strip and turn him into a swashbuckling gallant. Also, the number of men in Utilikilts didn't surprise me at all - but the number who looked damn good in them did.

People-meeting: Famous people and friend-people and LJ people.

High points: Talking to some other first-timers, dinner on Friday with two other Lioness fans. Meeting James P. Hogan and Mary Kay Kare at the Information desk. Kaffeeklatches with Alma Alexander and Elizabeth Bear.
Disappointments: I saw my friend D for about two seconds Friday, while I was being shown the ropes at the Information desk, and never did find him again. Also, mush as I liked the Kaffeeklatches, the venue for them sucked - right next to a filk stage. One wired for sound. Not to mention assorted other noise from the rest of the Lounge area right outside the curtained area. I have excellent hearing (very few rock concerts in my past!) and I had trouble hearing occasionally, so it must have been terrible for people with hearing impairments. (T-shirt spotted: "Going deaf faster gives you more time for reading")
Surprises: One of the people I ate with Friday turned out to be a (very quiet!) member of the piffle list, which I've been a moderator of since its inception. Also, later that night I met someone from work - took her an amusing amount of time to refocus and realize who I was. Did not get hit on at all, which surprised me only because of some of the stuff I'd read about WorldCons of the past. One guy did compliment my dress (and smile) but he also called me "perky", which does not constitute hitting on someone in a bright scarlet dress with low neck, clingy top half and swirly skirt. (Or if he thought it did, he needs serious practice.)

Other events: Stuff not on the schedule.

High points: Watching Elise make a necklace crown.
Disappointments: The parties were less fun (smaller, quieter, soberer) than I expected, though since I got to be by midnight both nights I may have just missed the good parts. They weren't horrible, just not as expected. Also, of course, even the parts of them I was at would be much more fun for someone plugged in to fandom who was meeting old friends everywhere.
Surprises: Except for a little of the LA driving, I actually found the whole thing fairly relaxing, not tiring at all. I was on my feet the whole time, and constantly walking between the Convention Center, the Hilton which also hosted a lot of the events, and the Marriott where my room was, but I probably still ended up walking much less than at an average regatta. (And no exertion much beyond a walk, which of course makes a difference.) I had no trouble getting plenty of sleep and enough food. Of course, a lot of it probably comes right back to not knowing many people. I had no command performances, no juggling to fit everyone in my schedule, no getting waylaid wherever I walked. And I suspect the invite-only parties were the best ones, not surprisingly. (I did consider crashing the Tor party, but though Teresa Nielsen-Hayden stated that "regulars" of Making Light were welcome, I'm only a regular reader, not a regular part of the discussion, and I suspect she meant the latter.)

Packing: Stuff I brought or didn't.

Glad I brought: Bananas, a water bottle, and something to carry the latter, plus purchases and knitting. The knitting itself was also a good thing to bring, especially the Claptis shawl, because I was freezing most of the time and could spread it on my lap even while I wasn't knitting. Also, the shockingly red dress was good to wear to the parties.
Shouldn't have brought: My laptop, which I didn't use at all. The hotel charged $9.99 for Internet access, and while the con had it for free, for the same walk and the same wait I could use their computer without having to carry mine. Also, I should have brought fewer shorts and more long pants. Brrr.
Wish I'd brought: If I'd left the laptop home, I could have brought the long wide skirt that goes with the bellydancing top. I did bring the top but decided it looked stupid with jeans. I'd have fit right in.

The trip:

High points: Rudder was right: the Origins of Life lecture is pretty good. Also, the satellite radio had perfect reception all the way across the desert.
Sucky parts: Halfway to Quartzite I realized I'd forgotten to leave extra food for the cat. Fortunately our excellent catsitter has a key, so I called and threw myself on her mercy, adn fortunatley her schedule permitted a quick visit Saturday night. Then there was the LA traffic and construction on the way there. I was beginning to panic a bit that I'd be caught in traffic to the point of extreme bladder discomfort, but fortunately once I got past the construction on 215 it eased up. On the way back, there was no traffic in LA but then I-10 was closed at Quartzite. When I-10 is closed away from the big towns, a l-o-o-o-n-g detour is necessitated, so I got home an hour later than I'd been hoping.
Surprises: I was a good girl and erged 6K last night so I could sleep a little later this morning. (I think the workout helped me get to sleep, too.)

Oh, and...

  • I forgot to mention Betty Ballantine's fabulous dress, at the Hugos. I want to look like that when I'm in my 80s. I already know I won't sound as good: she has fabulous diction and sounds like a trained stage actress.

  • Apparently Harlan really is as big a jerk as reported. Connie Willis smiled and ignored it, but groping women, uninvited, is not funny. And the bit with the microphone was just gross.
  • Posted by dichroic at August 28, 2006 02:53 PM

Gosh, I'm so glad you had a great time! YAY! And yes, I am still far too much of a Giving Tree to risk the pain again. ~LA

Posted by: LA at August 28, 2006 07:28 PM

Yay! Sounds like you had fun!

Posted by: Mer at August 28, 2006 08:45 PM

Tcha. You'd have been welcome at the Tor party. Come next time.

Betty Ballantine looked great. IMO, the other great dress that night was on John Scalzi's wife, but she wasn't onstage to show it off.

Posted by: Teresa Nielsen Hayden at August 29, 2006 11:53 AM
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