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Pi-Con

On Friday, I asked my boss if I could skip lunch and leave early. After running my errands, I got on the road a few minutes before six. Google Maps had indicated that the trip should take about three hours and fifteen minutes. I must have seriously hauled ass, because I parked behind the hotel at 8:40. I have never made it through NJ and NY that fast.

I checked in at the hotel, and before going up to the room scooted over to con registration, where I was greeted with a big hug from an exuberant young lady[1] who loved my T-shirt. I brought my things to my room and got everything sorted out, then went back down to the lobby. I'd noticed that lynati_1 was working on a jigsaw puzzle, and she was gone when I got back so I took her spot. I get very competitive about cooperative jigsaw puzzling, and this one was challenging. Lynati and I and at least one other woman were all working on it at times for most of Saturday as well.

I'm not sure how long I'd been working at it when hughcasey appeared next to me. He'd had nothing to eat and a bit more rum than advisable on an empty stomach, and so I accompanied him to the restaurant. His food arrived just as he was supposed to meet elionwyr at the end of her panel, so instead I went in his place and escorted her back to the restaurant. Not long thereafter, the restaurant closed and the waitress sent us over to the bar, where a number of others soon appeared and things became quite entertaining.

At midnight, I went to see Repo! The Genetic Opera. Repo! seems to be the modern Rocky Horror Picture Show. Like RHPS, it's a bizarre and twisty science fiction musical. Also like RHPS, it's performed by a shadow cast with audience participation. There's less sexuality and more gore. I've been wanting to see it, so I was glad to have the opportunity. I certainly see how the movie caught on. I wasn't all that thrilled with the group performing it, though. They didn't sustain the kind of energy I would have expected. Then again, the audience was completely dead (I think that most of us were first-timers) and even in straight theater, performance varies a lot on the audience's energy. For something like this it's essential. But I did enjoy it quite a bit, nonetheless, and I'd like to see it again now that I know what's going on with the story, and with a different group.

Saturday morning came too early. I had intended to go to a 10:00 panel, but I was moving too slowly and chose in favor of eating breakfast instead. Then I meandered down to the lobby, where I was greeted by the Fantastical Roving Lobbycon 2010 – which is to say, a group of Hugh's friends [2] who figured they'd end up sitting around the lobby and had gotten creative with office supplies. They had fliers and badges. Admission free, all panels five minutes or less. I happen to think this was the best thing ever. I had planned to spend a fair amount of time hanging out in the lobby people-watching and attempting to be social. Here were interesting people doing the same thing and welcoming outsiders. This could not have better suited my plans. So I sat with them for a while, until they went upstairs. I wandered for a bit, then had some more jigsaw puzzle time.

I spent most of the afternoon going to panels. First I went to a panel on Settling Other Planets. Then I ran up to my room for a granola bar and an internet break. After that, the flirting panel. Although it was mostly the same participants, I found it more useful this time than the last time (not that I think it's going to help). Then I went to The New Classics, a discussion of what works of the last 20 years have the potential to become classics in time. After that was Hugh's GoA talk. Then I listened to a discussion on The Nature of Sentience, then finally a panel called Sci-Fi Cons vs. Lifestyle Cons. I was really enjoying this last one [3], but by the time it ended at 8, my blood sugar had bottomed out and I wasn't really able to focus.

I checked on the jigsaw puzzle, which had been completed, and then went up to my room. After a room-service sandwich, I changed into nicer clothes. I didn't actually go to the dance (dancing, like eating, is something I prefer to have companions for if I have to do it in public), but parked myself in the lobby again to see what happened. For about an hour, it was very quiet indeed, only a few people passing through. Then a little after 10, traffic picked up. Lobbycon resumed. People came and went. The Barfleet party got going somewhere around then as well, so levels of noise and inebriation of the passers-by increased. Around 11, the RHPS cast started recruiting an audience. I had originally thought about going, but there was a lot of overlap with the previous night's cast and I lost interest.

A little after 1, the general consensus seemed to be that it was time for sleep, and everyone dispersed. It turns out that this was good timing. A wedding party – an exceedingly drunk wedding party – had arrived only a little before then. I heard the next morning that apparently they took issue with various hotel policies and caused enough of a stir that the police were called. All the town's police cars arrived. The unanimous reaction of everyone I overheard was "Thank God it wasn't for us."

Sunday morning, I got myself ready and fed, took my stuff down to the car, and checked out. Then I ventured into the consuite for a cup of tea. I didn't stay long, as the room was overly full. Instead, I found a railing to lean on while I observed the weather and the passers-by. I was surprised by how many negative comments I heard about the con. I was pleased all weekend long by the level of organization and quality of programming for a fairly small con. I can only guess that the nay-sayers were comparing it to something the size of Arisia and expecting the same variety. Their loss, if they don't go back. As far as I'm concerned, changing my mind and deciding to go was one of the best decisions I've made in ages.

I did eventually end up back in the lobby again for a while, and then went to a couple more panels. Steampunk Computers took a running pass through real-world history of computers and went on to discuss what levels of computing could have been achieved consistent with steampunk concepts. Finally, "I'll Save Us... With Science!" was a discussion of the disappearance of the scientist or even the intelligent person as hero.

When that ended, it was 3:00, and time for me to get going. I made a last pass through the area just to make sure I wasn't missing anything exciting, and then headed to my car. I got on the road by about 3:30. It was a considerably longer trip home, given the intermittent rain and what that does to traffic, but I was still home a little before eight.

I had a wonderful weekend. I saw and did all the things that mattered to me. I accomplished some personal goals. I talked to strangers, as well as to people I'd met before. I commented in a couple of the panels. I had a whole lot of fun.

There's a guy who takes pictures at the cons. Lots of people do, but he takes lots of pictures and goes to lots of events. They're candids, so they're not always the best pictures in the world, but he takes them, which is more than I can say. I've had my camera with me constantly at every single one, and I almost never remember to pull it out of my bag. So, I've enjoyed looking at his pictures after the fact. It's always seemed like he was at a different event, though. While I recognize all of what he's getting, it's not usually the places and times and people I saw. I was pleased to see in his Pi-Con pictures that not only was it what I remember, but I'm actually in a few [4] myself! And that's not a bad metaphor for how I feel about the whole experience; up until now, I've mostly been looking on, but this time I was in the picture.

__________________

[1] I'm not sure I'm old enough to describe someone else as a “young lady" but I'm not sure how else to put it. Saying it makes me feel like an old fart, but then, her excitement and energy levels did the same thing.

[2] Well, okay, the entire convention was made up of Hugh's friends, for they are numbered in the thousands... and besides, he was the Guest of Awesome, so everyone wanted to bask in the reflection of his awesomeness. Or something. But those to whom I refer in this instance appear to be his friends in the way I use the word, as well.

[3] Another approach to describing the difference is: are you more interested in the subject matter that makes us geeks, largely science fiction and science, or are you more interested in the people who have that geekiness in common? I've been thinking about this as I've gone to the various cons over the last year. I find that while I'm usually very interested in the serious panels, the cons that take themselves seriously tend to also be older, quieter and more boring. The social/people/lifestyle stuff is not necessarily what I want to sit for an hour listening to people talk about, but cons that offer those panels also tend to have more other interesting stuff going on and be better places for meeting and interacting with people. And that's the part that I can't pursue on my own, by definition.

[4] Actually, if you include back-of-the-head shots of audiences and so on, I'm in rather a lot of his pictures this time. In fact, my boobs even made it into one of the pictures without the rest of me! I turned down a hallway and saw the picture being posed for him and a couple of other photographers, so I ducked backward into a doorway to get out of the background of the shot. Turns out I should have backed up a couple of inches more. Oops.

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
collacentaur
Aug. 26th, 2010 12:28 pm (UTC)
Yep!
(Deleted comment)
collacentaur
Aug. 26th, 2010 12:45 pm (UTC)
Gladly. They've only just opened online hotel registration; I figured in the next few days I'd be putting out a message to you and a couple others who've expressed interest about sorting it all out.

Google on Philcon 2009. That site is still available, and looking at that program should give you a sense of it.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )