lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
So, there was 4th Street.   cut for length... )

lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
4th Street was this past weekend. And I am almost recovered enough to string two sentences together.

It was a terrific con, probably the best one since the first year I went. Pretty much had non-stop good conversations from the moment I walked in until I finally pried myself away from the last few goodbyes. Got very little sleep and definitely over-caffeinated, and I'm not the least little bit sorry. ;-)

I made an effort to pace myself before the event so as not to arrive already exhausted before it even started, despite the overwhelming pressure of the to-do list. Those who know me will appreciate how dubious was my success when I say that I managed to leave without putting maps in the car. Luckily I had my own written directions, and I could probably do the route from memory by now anyway.

Had a great time reconnecting with the Intermediate Writers crowd, even though we didn't officially have a gathering. (Which was only because no one stepped up to coordinate one; guess what I'll probably be doing next year?) And with the consuite crowd, and the smokers' lounge crowd, and assorted other cool people.

The seminar was interesting and well-run, though most of what I came out of it with was the conclusion that I just don't learn well in a seminar format. (And that my process is non-standard and weird, but I knew that going in.) I also came out with what I thought was a good way to ask for help on something I've been struggling with, but I tried it out on two very different groups and it failed utterly, so I guess not. It did kick off some good discussions, though.

My 4th Street tradition continues of there being one or two panels that I don't think I'll be that interested in that turn out to be utterly fascinating, and one or two that I think are going to be right in my wheelhouse that leave me cold. This year, the example of the first was "Large-Scale Structures and Series Planning"; I'm not a big series writer and usually veer away from long tightly-connected series as a reader, but a lot of the stuff about planning and consistency and leaving tools (and toys) for yourself for later was not only really interesting but actually something I could connect to my own work. And the panel on "Writing As A Light Trance State" was deeply intriguing, though I still don't think I came away with an understanding of the difference between trance and just concentrating on what you're doing.

Unfortunately, "The Tropes of Emotion" was one of the latter category, mostly because they did a lot of high-level meta discussion and very little granular, boots-on-the-ground how-to. Which is a pity, because I'm working hard on a bit of how-to in the current revision pass, and I'd have liked some pointers. The other one that left me cold was the That's a Different Panel, which this year ended up being "Clues And Signaling" -- basically, how do we tell readers things -- the very topic I most hoped they'd choose. It would probably have done more for me if they hadn't spent half the panel going on about paratext -- because I am functionally blind to paratext. (No, really. One of the books they cited was one that I read fairly recently and remember well, and they went on and on about the ways paratext was used, and I have no idea what they were talking about.) And what wasn't about paratext was again high-level and meta, not practical and how-to.

(I've realized that when it comes to writing stuff, I do not learn well from getting the big-picture view and trying to apply it to specific usages; I'm much better off with using a specific example in my own work, and reasoning from that to the general principle. I'm not sure if that's how I learn non-writing things as well, or not; I'd need a specific example to consider. Which may answer the question right there. ;-) )

The cookies went over well once again. The dinosaurs were even more popular than I expected (I suspect it was the glitter), and the "writer's toolbox" joke went over well. (Oddly, it seemed nobody wanted to eat the hammers; they were always the last to go. Don't know why.) For future reference: I made 4 batches of dough, but only ended up decorating about 3 batches worth. 3 batches was plenty, enough to stock Friday evening, Saturday mid-day, and Saturday evening, and still have a few left by Sunday. Next time, figure on making ~18 of each shape; that's enough to cover breakage and a few to share pre-con, and still have a dozen+ for the consuite. Which actually is enough, if you're making enough shapes to use up 3 batches of dough.

Drive there was good; the threatened thunderstorms didn't materialize, and I actually took breaks when I was getting dozey, and pulled over for the night when I was tired but not exhausted. Only trouble was that there still isn't a sign for a Caribou/Starbucks/etc. for about three hours past the point where I need one, so I once again arrived at my traditional gas-and-lunch stop rather desperate for coffee. But still overall a nice trip.

The car turned 200,000 on the way, which was cool.

Drive home was much the same; I turned the need to stall for a while to avoid Madison rush hour into a nice long lunch break, and pulled over for a walk and cold beverages when it seemed like a good idea but not yet a dire necessity. Got home around 2am, tired but still functional.

The cats were happy to see me. :-)

And now it's time to get back to normal, although I'm hoping to reboot "normal" to a slightly more satisfactory version. One that involves more sleep, writing, and exercise, and less unrelenting to-do list.

MediaWest*Con 36

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 04:48 pm
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
Had a very good con this past weekend. We did the commuting-from-home thing again, which in addition to saving money once again encouraged us to get out there and try more things that we otherwise might have skipped in favor of flaking in the hotel room. Went to quite a few decent panels (and the inevitable couple that required an urgent text message partway through), had several good meals with good company, and some kind soul gave me digital copies of a show I've been trying off and on for twenty years to see. (Which was cognitively dissonating; cloning tapes used to be a big part of the con back in The Olde Dayes, so my earliest fannish conditioning collided with the modernity of getting an entire series on a piece of technology so small I could lose it if I sneezed.) Also stayed up far too late two nights in a row playing Cards Against Humanity with the kind of sick and twisted people you want to play Cards Against Humanity with. ;-)

Having wisely taken Tuesday off for recovery purposes, we had a lovely day vegging out yesterday. The housemate is back dealing with the real world today, and I am back scrambling madly to get ready for the next con I'm going to, only a couple weeks away. But at least we're both doing it with a decent bit of sleep under our belts.

There were some minor issues, most notably that the panel organizers seemed to have utilized a random number generator in assigning panelists. (And they wonder why more people don't volunteer/offer suggestions.) However, everybody rolled with it and managed to have a good time anyway.

Looking forward to next year.

Down and Fourthed

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 11:27 am
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I had grand plans to write up a detailed and insightful post about 4th Street today. This was thwarted by the kitten waking me up at 8:30 this morning. (I rolled into the driveway at about 2:30 a.m.) Five hours of sleep is generous by my during-4th-Street standards, but as a post-con recovery sleep it is deeply inadequate, and now my brain is pudding.

It was a good con. Highlight as always was hanging out with fun people having interesting conversations. Highlight other than that was definitely the workshop, which went very well from both an organizer and a participant perspective. I'm delighted it's over (tired!), but I'm delighted we did it. Throughout the weekend, I had a great time hanging out with the usual suspects, and also with some of the intermediate-writer crowd, where we talked about stuff and writing and other stuff and writing and more stuff and how it interrelated with writing and stuff.

And now, some disjointed remarks, because pudding.

If last year was Chaos Con, this year was Kerfuffle Kon. Mainly they were localized kerfuffles, though, and they mostly got settled (as much as a kerfuffle ever gets settled, anyway), and didn't need to spill over into anyone else's enjoyment.

It's a truism that I never have the conversations I anticipate having at 4th Street. (I have other cool and fascinating conversations instead.) This year, it extended to panels; the couple I was side-eyeing and thinking I'd better sit near the door for turned out to be fascinating and engaging, whereas the couple I was keenest on didn't connect with me. The writing panel on "How To Play The Cards You Ain't Been Dealt" particularly left me cold, which leads directly to:

I need a translation algorithm, or possibly several. My writing process is non-standard, on almost every axis you can think of. This is frustrating and leaves me odd-man-out in process discussions, but it also means that when I'm trying to learn a bit I don't have, people keep giving me advice or tips that just don't fit. They're handing me a piece for my jigsaw puzzle, but I'm playing with Legos.

My workshop manuscript seems to have nailed my target audience pretty well; unfortunately, I severely underestimated how narrow a niche that is. Contemplation required.

The driving there and back was pretty good. A few bouts of really stupid traffic and a lot of construction, and a poorly timed encounter with one major city's rush hour, but on the other hand, hardly any weather; a few spats of rain, but no thunderstorms and certainly no tornadoes. Getting gas on the way back turned into an epic saga, but I know where the failure point was. (Edgerton, dammit. If not before, Edgerton.)

Arrived at con ridiculously early. Woke up ridiculously early most mornings, too, including Monday; I was moved out and checked out before most people were stirring. The one day I didn't wake up ridiculously early, the shrieking children actually proved quite useful. Note to self: just put the travel alarm in 24-hour mode. (Yes, I did it again.)

Good food was consumed, good talk was talked, good times were had.

The cats were startled but happy to see me last night. After I'd gone upstairs with the intention of going to bed, Ember brought a toy all the way up the stairs to present to me. Awwww.

MediaWest*Con 35

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 11:30 pm
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
So, there was MediaWest*Con this past weekend.

It was a good con. We were commuting from home, which I think actually contributed to a better con experience. For one thing, I wasn't roaming the halls for hours looking for something interesting still going on late at night (MediaWest's attendees are increasingly early-to-bed types, as the years go on), which always leaves me cranky and disappointed -- if there was nothing left to do, we just went home to bed. For another, since we didn't have the hotel room to retreat to during the day, I think we went to a lot more panels and sought out more interaction during the day. So it was a good arrangement, as well as vastly cheaper and easier to manage with the ailing cat.

I think it may also have helped that a lot of the people whose first fandom is complaining have finally just stopped coming. So pretty much everybody there was willing to have a good time, which makes it a lot easier for everybody to have a good time.

The art auction was small but high-quality -- my goodness, there were some impressive pieces. The dealers room was pretty low-key, but I actually bought a new zine! Panels ranged in quality; the best was definitely the Cabin Pressure panel, and not just because I knew almost all of the trivia questions. (Brilliant!) Good meals with good company, interesting conversations in the hallways, and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity on Sunday night -- works for me.

4th Street Feelings

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 01:01 pm
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
So, there was 4th Street this past weekend. It was a real roller-coaster of a con for me... but the high points were awesome. I'll try to go into more detail later -- there are some ideas I want to explore more fully -- but that'll have to wait until I can brain for more than five seconds at a time. ;-)

The cookies went over very well, including one comment that pretty much means I'll be making them every year as long as there's a 4th Street to take them to. And they absolutely vaporized, so no, three batches wasn't excessive.
lizvogel: What is this work of which you speak? (Cat on briefcase.) (Work)
...I can now announce that the winner of this year's ISFic Writers Contest is none other than yours truly!

Squeeeeeeee! :-)

(Yes, this is the Thing that I was alluding to last month. This not telling people thing is hard!)

Am having a blast at Windycon. Some people have even read my story! And I have an award-shaped object to put on the mantle. Very, very cool.

4th Street

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 08:53 pm
Home. Great con. Very tired.

Sugar Rushed

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 10:04 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I finished the cookies for 4th Street Sunday. Well, Monday, technically, after a 10-hour overnight marathon. For my own future reference, total time (I tracked it this time) was 44.25 hours, of which 2.5 was making dough, 4.5 was making & baking cookies, and a whopping 37.25 hours was decorating. Photography is included in decorating time; I took pictures as I finished 'em, rather than saving it all up for a massive photo shoot at the end, which was definitely a good idea.

That was 3 batches of dough (about 2.5 batches of actual cookies, after the rejects were culled -- I had the damnedest time getting things out of the oven on cue this time), and 5 batches of icing.

I'm glad I did them this year, especially since I managed to finish up a few days before launch, but next year I've got to do something less time-intensive. Perhaps some nice simple chocolate chip cookies, and maybe a batch of my infamous blueberry cookies (which are tetchy, but at least not a massive time sink).

Now to see if my cunning packing scheme (sandwich baggies for do-it-yourself air packs, anyone?) will get them there in one piece. I don't hold out much hope for the unicorns, even with cardboard layering, but we'll see.


Thursday, May 30th, 2013 03:55 pm
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
So, MediaWest happened. It was a good con, a bit laid-back, perhaps, but that's not a bad thing. Membership was down to around 500, which is a little low but did mean that there was plenty of elbow room.

It was bizarre being back in the old hotel. Just enough remained the same to make the things that were different really make my brain hurt. By Monday, I had almost sussed out the layout of the hotel (the function space was easy, but I spent most of the weekend bewildered by the rooms sections, despite the hotel-provided maps). There were some glitches with function layout, especially in the dealers' room, but some bugs are to be expected in a new venue -- and after 22 years, this definitely qualified as a new venue for organizational purposes! There are good ideas already in the works to address the issues for next year.

Except for the inevitable few whose first fandom is Complaining, people generally coped with the glitches and got on with having a good time.

The hotel staff were awesome, accommodating pretty much any request they could. The hotel itself is a little rough around the edges; the current owners took it over only a year or so ago, after several years of it standing vacant. But everything worked and was clean, and there were nice touches like the hotel waiting to varnish the new wainscoting until after the con so we wouldn't be bothered by the fumes.

Finances being what they are, I mostly sang the "hands in pockets" song, though there was some lovely stuff in the art show and the usual range of goodies in the dealers' room. I did score DVDs of a show I'd all but given up hope of finding. Had several good meals with a variety of company.

Panels... well, it's long been known that the panel organizers and I do not overlap much in interests. There was a pretty good Blakes 7 panel, and a classic Trek panel that happily wandered all around the show.

I spent a fair amount of the evenings running old spy shows in the room, especially Callan. Didn't get much walk-in traffic, but I enjoyed it anyway. I'm contemplating making my own fun by doing a couple of video parties next year, one for old-school spies and one for new-school; we'll see if the ambition survives. And if the hotel's updating extends to new TVs, and whether the aspect ratio is acceptably adjustable.

The contract's not signed for next year yet, but plans are to return to the new-old-whatever-Ramada hotel again. I frankly think it's a fine venue, and I'm glad to be back.

Goal Status

Friday, February 15th, 2013 01:22 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
So, I'm back from Capricon, and almost recovered. (Exhausted doesn't even begin to cover it.) On balance, it was fun, although both the consuite and the (lack of) writing track were disappointing. Gophered my legs off. Highlights were probably hanging out with people representing other cons, specifically the Cafe Capricon/MuseCon folks and the Minneapolis in 2073 bid.

Capricon was a goal-deadline, so let's see how I did:

- Finish rough draft of Kitchen Sink: done. It has an end. I tied up the dangling scenes that weren't related to the subplot-to-be-added, and made a start on de-bracketing.

- Revise "Off The Map": done. I had the interesting experience of going over all the workshop feedback and realizing almost all of it was wrong. Or rather, I don't think the things people were suggesting would have fixed the problem they were identifying. Putting in brand names, describing the kind of car, etc. was their way of asking to be grounded in the setting, but all those things would have come too late; I already had grounding-points half a page in, but by that point readers have made their own assumptions and will not be shifted. The grounding has to happen right at the beginning, before the reader has a chance to build up something else in their head. (Those suggestions would also have made it some other kind of story entirely, which is why I was kicking so hard.) I don't know if what I did instead will work (need fresh betas), but at least it's still the story I'm writing.

Status: Win!

Goal #3, which does not have a fixed deadline, is to get back on the querying horse. As happens every time I try this, I discovered I needed more prep work; the synopsis I thought was done... wasn't. Or, it is, but six bloody pages is just too long. I tried cutting it down, even got a fresh pair of eyes on it, but the result was thoroughly unsatisfactory and still too long. So I'm rewriting it again.

And out of desperation, I'm writing it backwards. I started with what I want the last line to be, then asked, "What has to happen for that to make sense?" and wrote that line. And so forth. It seems to be working; I'm at Chapter 8 of 15 (from back to front) and somewhere around the 500-word mark. (The same material was 1300 words in the previous version.) It may still run a bit over the two-page target when done, but a plot fueled by complex character motivations which are in turn fueled by deep backstory does not summarize easily.

Other than finishing the synopsis (tentative deadline = end of this month) and starting querying again, I do not currently have specific writing goals. This is a bad state for me to be in. I want to at least de-bracket Kitchen Sink before moving on; haven't decided if I should tackle the subplot as well, or rest it for a bit first. There's the Haley novel to be resurrected. Whither the writer?
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
I was tracking that WindyCon was this weekend, but somehow the prep for WindyCon has entirely snuck up on me. Must pack, and get stuff ready for the cat-sitter, and so on today. While writing 1667 words, because NaNo waits for no con. And maybe attend a local NaNo event tonight, because I don't have enough on my plate. Yep, cloning is starting to sound like a really good idea.

Hmm, I don't have clones in my NaNo novel. Yet.
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
The drive to Cleveland went well. The alternate route around Toledo turns out to be the officially-marked route to get to the turnpike, and nicely avoids the interchange roulette that made our last drive through the area unnecessarily fraught. And the drive into Cleveland proper was stupidly easy.

We're staying at the Cleveland Hostel. It's a bit basic, but it's clean, functional, and in a fabulous location. (Not to mention half the price of the convention hotel.) About ten minutes from downtown by train, it's also basically next door to the West Side Market, a giant farmers-market type thing and a local fixture. The neighborhood is full of classic old buildings with little boutique shops and bars and ethnic restaurants in the ground floors. It's got that vibe of a once-prosperous business district that hit bottom and is now working its way back up. Very cool, and very friendly. We are half a block from a promising-looking coffee shop, and the RTA station is just around the corner. Also, there's a Penzeys across the street from the market; the housemate is in spice-junkie transports.

The hostel has a rooftop deck, and as I type this, I'm staring out at the Cleveland skyline, with the downtown towers all funkily lit and the stadium glowing like a flare. The moon's half-visible behind the clouds, and the Goodyear Blimp has swung past for a visit. The clock tower of the market is spotlit above the warm glow of the street. Off to the side, there's the Great Lakes Brewery and a verdigris-tipped spire. We picked up sandwiches for dinner from the local grocery, and ate them up here.

I think I'll get in a little writing before bed. My characters would love this place.
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
Am considering going to Bouchercon. It's still appallingly expensive, but this year it's as close as it's likely to get.

I would really like to get to know some people working in the same genre as I am. Which Bouchercon may or may not be the venue for; espionage is sort of mystery's bastard step-sibling at best. But I'm not finding a better option, and ultimately the only way to know is to go and find out.
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
Yes, there is more write-up. Yes, it's weeks after the con. I was tired (still am); deal with it. Cut for length... )

The drive was an interesting experiment, and I'll probably do something similar next year. Which I will totally have the opportunity for; I can't wait for next year's 4th Street.
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
Addendum to Day 1: I forgot the puppet theater! In addition to filking and foam swords Friday night, Mary Robinette Kowal brought out her portable shadow-puppet theater and did a condensed version of a classic puppet story (The Broken Bridge?) for us. Nifty!

Sunday: Morning came early enough that I was glad I was used to a different time zone. Forgot my morning Red Bull and had to go back up to the room for it, which enabled me to cope with coffee.

"Science, Technology, and Fantasy" started off with a demonstration from Klages on the wrong way to combine these ingredients: she played us all "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" on her iPhone. This inspired S. Monette to quip, "Curse you, Leonard Nimoy, you bastard," which seems only fair. The word "technology" was first used around 1650, at which time it meant more "technique" as in art/craft/language than "machines". It was a very quotable panel, to wit: "The 19th Century is one big morass of 'holy crap!'" (Marissa), and S. Monette boiled down the scientific method to "What does that do?" "Holy crap!" Klages pointed out that the pouch (pocket, handbag) was the first human tool, vitally useful to any hunter-gatherer, and went on to define science as trying to recreate the manual that should have come with the Earth but wasn't put in the box. Other notes include that the Chin Dynasty had mass-produced crossbows with interchangeable parts circa 200 B.C., and something about memory palaces as a mnemonic technique, which I need to read up on.

I missed the last two panels and lunch because I was sitting in the con suite with Pat Wrede, talking writing and queries and synopses. Need I say more?

I did make it to the wrap-up panel, which the con board sensibly started off with the things they already had solutions for for next year. Somebody else brought up the issue of newcomers feeling excluded (I was in such a good mood by that point that I hadn't been going to bring it up, though I did chime in in support). It says something about 4th Street that not only did they take the criticism in good part, but within ten minutes there was an official Newbie Wrangler for next year along with a fistful of ideas to make new attendees both be and feel more included.

I understand the cookies got public kudos during 4th Street's version of closing ceremonies, which I was sorry I missed (although I was doing the one thing I'd rather have been doing); several people made a point of telling me later how they'd liked them. And none of them were left to take home, which is of course the ultimate compliment. (Note to self, that was three batches of dough. And put in some cardboard or other support system next time, esp. for the wands & unicorns.)

Other book recommendations include John M. Ford's The Last Hot Time (for interesting POV use) and The Scholars of Night (SF spies), Anthony Price's spy novels, and William Sleator's House of Stairs (for creepy spy stuff).

Dinner was with another group of nifty folks at the exceedingly yummy Chinese place again, where we ordered several dishes for the table and nibbled in abundance.

Then there was hanging out in the con suite until late, and eventually helping tidy and consolidate con-suite-ish stuff. And finally a quick whirl of packing up my own stuff for the next day's departure, and bed.
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
The problem with doing a con report is that the better the con, the less time and energy you have to document it.

Cut for length... )
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Friday: Started the day with a lovely long sleep, courtesy of the person who lent me binder clips to hold the light-blocking curtains together. Followed it with a bit of hanging out and chatting in the breakfast area, and then boiled myself in the hot tub for about a week. Aaaahhh.

Got to chatting with another writer who's also in query-writing hell, and it occurred to me (somewhat belatedly) that there was an opportunity here. Since schedule changes meant the con was starting a bit later than planned, they kindly let me slot an impromptu query review session into the con space. About 20 people attended, five of whom had queries -- which is pretty good turnout for something that was only added to the programming about four hours before. We ended up reading queries aloud; some read their own, some had others read, both for nerves and for the change of perspective. The feedback was quite good, and it was great to get a variety of reactions from the usual caliber of 4th Street attendees, i.e., smart thinky people who read.

I have to rewrite my bloody query again, of course. But at least now I know.

Official programming kicked off with "Story Templates and the Folk Process". The essence of the panel was kind of lost on me (mostly because I needed to decompress from the query session), but it was entertaining watching other people geek out about it.

"POV Fixes Everything" was more up my alley. Brust pointed out that POV solves description troubles, because you can talk about not what a thing looks like, but what the POV character notices about it. Beth Meacham scored a major point in my book by defending the dread "head-hopping" (a term I hate, because dammit, shifting POVs is not bad if you do it right) by saying that it can be a character duet, something that illuminates both characters simultaneously. Scott Lynch chipped in that "POV is the tool that allows you to leave a trail of clues without giving a lecture", and restated show vs. tell (speaking of terms I hate) as "providing evidence rather than assurances". There was also a lot of talk about trusting the reader to notice what they're getting and what they're not, which left me feeling rather insecure about the novel-again-in-progress as it doesn't parallel my experience with readers at all, but overall it was a fine panel.

The guerrilla auction (assorted items being auctioned in between panels) was highly entertaining, not least because of the tentacle of philanthropy.

Had a very tasty lunch with a semi-random group of nifty people; spent dinnertime in the con suite, being still full from lunch, with a smaller group of still nifty people.

Late night hanging out was outside on the patio, as that seemed to be where the conversations had migrated. (Inside was the music circle, but -- and I know this sounds un-fannish -- I'm just not that keen on filk, even when it's good filk.) Eventually outside turned into filk as well, and I turned in, which is just as well as I was getting morose about the query. (It's an annoying but necessary part of my process, best not shared.) I did get to duel Scalzi with foam swords first, though. And I never knew I needed to hear Radiohead on the ukulele until I had.
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
Got off to a late start by a couple of hours yesterday; fortunately the friends whose floor I was crashing on were up for a late-arriving houseguest. Made the first leg of the trip in 4 hours and 6 minutes, which I'm pretty sure is a new record. And that includes the time it took to wedge the car into a not-quite-big-enough parking space. Construction wasn't too bad, and traffic was moderate. Had a pleasant if non-verbal exchange with the car that had been using me as a pace car when I pulled off for gas at the usual stop.

Today, hit the road in the early a.m. Took side streets because the ramp from 294 to 90 was closed, and of course missed the side street I meant to take. This was actually good, because it meant I went by the Caribou Coffee I remembered up that way. Got directions from an extremely helpful parking cop, and got to the expressway fairly painlessly. Think I'll do it that way on purpose next time.

They were mowing the verges along the expressway, so my nostrils were filled with the lovely green smell of fresh-cut grass as I drove, accented with moisture or dust depending on location. Could have done with less traffic along 90, but it kept moving fairly fast.

Western WI is some beautiful terrain, but damn there's a lot of it. I love to drive, but even I was ready to be done by the time I hit the traffic jam just short of the border. Ten mile backup for a ten-foot lane closure, I swear.

The St. Paul expressway interchanges are a bit much, coming at the end of a long drive. The traffic was backed up as seems to be standard for the area regardless of time. Was very glad to see the hotel.

Walked in the door to a big hug from Janet. This is just plain the friendliest con I know of. Had dinner with a miscellaneous collection of folks in the restaurant at the old hotel; good food and conversation. Picked up minimal groceries, then came back to find that neither the fridge nor the AC in my room were producing anything like cold. Hotel sent someone up right away, and when they couldn't fix it, moved me down the hall to another room. A hassle, but they made it right right away. I'm a little bummed only because my initial room was at the very end of the hall, right by the stairs; Michael Westen would have approved. I'm consoling myself with the thought that the new room is equidistant between two sets of stairs, which gives an operative options in a pinch. ;-)

The story-circle is still ongoing as I type this. Cool idea, seemed to be going well, but I've had a day and a half's worth of sleep over the past three days, and I'm dead. Gonna sleep now, in whichever of the two queen beds I have all to myself I see fit.

MediaWest*Con 32

Monday, June 4th, 2012 06:56 pm
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
So, there was MediaWest*Con.

We kind of did it as a relaxacon, and this proved to be a good choice. I deliberately did not do my customary thing of trailing around after certain people and sacrificing my own preferences to their schedule, and as a result I had lot of interesting conversations with people I've seen far too little of in past years, and generally had a very good time. In fact, my avowed intention to spend Sunday in the room writing was entirely derailed by people being interesting and fun to talk to all day. I also pimped Cabin Pressure to several people, yay!

The panel selection wasn't really geared to my interests, but I did manage to get to a few:

Burn Notice: speculation on the new season - which was only intermittently on topic, but lively for its size. Much smaller than in previous years; not sure if that's due to waning interest in the show or merely that it was the second panel slot Friday afternoon and folks were still revving up.

Saturday's panel on 60s Spies was great fun; good panelists, and a nice mix of shows under discussion. I also came out of it with a new/old show to look for -- why did no one tell me Garrison's Gorillas was not merely WWII, but WWII covert ops?!? This I must at least sample.

The mixed panel on USA shows was enthusiastic; also rambly, but the panel topic was sensibly wide open for just that.

I skipped the Holy Mother Grammatica panel, on the grounds that the last time I attended one, it got bogged down in examples of un-proofread fanfic, and not particularly amusing ones at that. I feel I owe an apology to the panelist who overheard me blowing it off, but there was also the issue of dinner to be addressed.

I stuck my head into Sunday's SGA panel long enough to identify that they were busy griping about Stargate: Universe, and promptly left.

The Old Skool and New Blood panel was another good one; some of the same panelists as the 60s Spies one, and neither as "get off my lawn" nor as "get with the 21st Century" as it could have been. May have gotten a door decorating idea out of it for next year.

So, four panels actually attended, none of which I walked out of; one not actually sat down in. Very nearly par for the course for me, but the quality of the few I went to was pleasingly high.

The hotel's finally done with remodeling. The beds once again brought to mind being eaten by a giant marshmallow and her brood of baby giant marshmallows, and the hallway lights really should control hidden doors to secret passages. We managed to get hold of the last remaining OEM remote for the TV, rather than the bacteriologically-sealed ones issued by default, so we could fix the aspect ratio, which was nice as it made it possible for me to actually watch the one episode of Sherlock we found time for. The new manager got off on the wrong foot with a lot of congoers by distributing a dire warning about not moving the furniture; not surprisingly, this proved to be due to his previous run in with a certain dealer who shall remain nameless but anyone familiar with the venue can guess who she is. I can only hope the general pissed-off-ness was reflected in her sales rather than in grief to the concom, who had nothing to do with it.

Oh, and we really must remember to be out of the room by 15 minutes before check-out time next year. Once again, the hotel computer automatically deactivated our keys at noon... except that it was running about 10 minutes fast. Note to self, don't bother getting a new key issued when this happens, as it won't work either. Luckily we found a helpful staffer down the hall, so we could get the last of our stuff out. Stupid hotel computer.

Not quite sure how else I spent the weekend; bought a few things, ate some meals, and generally hung out. Oh, and saw The Avengers movie, which was a blast. Whatever I did, I hope I do it again next year.




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