Convergence Con Report
Last weekend, your intrepid Flayrah editor-in-chief attended CONvergence in Bloomington, Minnesota. I had a smashing good time. I will also be attending Anthrocon this coming weekend, which will be an interesting excersize in comparisions, since both AC and CON are roughly the same size, but with very different focuses and philosophies. You can click on Read More to hear about my experiences at CONvergence.Driving home on Monday, it hardly felt like a convention had even happened. The hotel was deserted when we left; most of the con trappings had disappeared overnight. The drive back was a chore; long, boring, introspective. It was a good time to reflect on the weekend, no matter how surreal it felt, one day removed. Y'see, it started on Thursday....
On Thursday, I drove up to my parents' farm in northern Illinois for our big 4th of July picnic. I won't go into detail, other than to say there was good food and good company. I subjected Jen and Feren to it, as well. They evidently had a good time, so I am pleased.
We spent the night at my parents' house, and hit the road north after breakfast on Friday. We made a brief stop in Milwaukee, so that Jen could get some money out of her savings account, and then it was nonstop (well, gas and lunch break) to Bloomington, Minnesota! We arrived at the Radisson South in the late afternoon. Much to Feren's relief, check-in was a breeze, and we were shortly relaxing in our hotel room. The first order of business was to drop in on Cheb, and see if she was going insane, yet, with party setup. Luckily, she was not, and we helped a little bit with preparation--I got creative with eyeball ornaments and fishing line. Much amusement.
Cheb had a panel on throwing room parties, which we tagged along with. Now, keep in mind that I had no intention of throwing a room party. I've done it before at a couple of cons with only marginal success, and wasn't real interested in trying again. As one of the panelists said, you are insane if you even consider the idea. Of course, I think he was the one who was hosting a 48 hour party, so it's clear where his sanity is. Nonetheless, the panel was interesting, and it served as a horrible premonition of things to come later in the weekend...
We headed back to the cabana, and opened up the Cthulhu Coffee room party. There was coffee of doom, and apple ichor, brains and more brains, Playdoh, and Terl. And vinyl Cheb.
I spent much of the night wandering the first floor of the party cabanas. At some point, I ran into Paul and his girlfriend. They made a cute couple with multi-colored hair. They wandered over to Krushenko's to meet some people, and I tagged along. I got a glass of something terrifically alcoholic out of the deal, and I happened to run into Tim Wick (one of the Convergence execs) and a couple of other folk having a rather free-flowing discussion on movies. Now, I like movies quite a bit. Lately, though, I haven't seen very many. I am perpetually behind on movies that I want to see...my movie taste and Jen's evidently only rarely overlaps, and I'm of the opinion that cinema prices are just too damn expensive these days. Despite that, it was very interesting to listen to Tim hold forth on movies. He seems to have a lot of knowledge and opinions, and he's not afraid to use them.
Sometime later, I went to bed.
Saturday, I crawled out of bed sometime around 9:30 or 10. The pack and I went to a 10:30 panel on Animals as Characters, with GOHs Diane Duane and Peter Morwood. It was something of a natural fit, with the three of us being fans of the furry genre to some degree. Peter had some interesting comments about the use of humans in animal suits, which he seemed to think was mostly a waste of time (and I agree, to a degree). The panel wasn't that great, though...it eventually degenerated into people telling stories about their cats.
Jen had an attack of shyness or something, and didn't manage to catch Diane to autograph a couple of books, which was our other reason for attending the panel. I think she took care of that later in the con, though. Instead, we wandered over to the dealer's room, where Jen promptly disappeared. I didn't see much that interested me, except the book dealers. I bought a short story collection, and the latest Sarah Zettel paperback.
Lunch was provided by the consuite. The fare was rather slim, unless you happened to walk in at the right time...I walked in just as they set out lunchmeat and cheese, and was able to put together a nice sandwich. The fixings were gone in about fifteen minutes, pretty typical for conventions. On Sunday, I managed to snag a bowl of very tasty chicken and mushroom soup. An above-average consuite, if you managed to catch the good food.
I watched a demonstration of sword fighting techniques in the lobby area by the pool. That was really cool, even if they weren't allowed to actually do any actual combat. I took way too many pictures.
After some decompression time in the hotel room, I ventured forth for another panel, this one about the Oscars. Tim Wick, from the night before, was on the panel. We talked about why genre films rarely get nominated (and hardly ever win) the Best Picture award, and I learned probably more than I want to about how the Oscars are chosen. A very interesting panel.
After this, we escaped the hotel for a few hours to briefly visit Feren's dad over in Richfield. He was on duty at the fire station, so we stood around and shot the breeze for a while and admired the fire trucks. On our way back, after a bit of searching, we managed to find a Cub foods so that we could pick up the lunchmeat and a couple of other food items that I had forgotten to pack. Having a cooler in your hotel room with breakfast and lunch foods at a con is one of the best ways to reduce your expenses...dining out two meals a day for three or four days is expensive!
We helped open up the Cthulhu party again; some re-setup was required since the room had been used for a couple of other events that I failed to get to earlier in the day. This evening featured the same events as Friday night, except instead of vinyl Cheb, we had American Maid Cheb. As soon as the door was open, we had a half-dozen people inside. The Convergence party scene really has to be seen to be believed. There is a central courtyard in the hotel, in which the pool and hottub reside. All around this courtyard are hotel rooms, referred to as poolside cabanas. Two floors, with the second floor having really cool balconies, and the first floor having patio areas. These floors are the party floors for the convention. They are packed full of parties (and a couple of con functions, such as con suite, Krushenko's, Connie's Space Lounge, and COF2E2). A quick look at the program guide lists over 30 parties, many running for both nights, many of them running all night, and even a few that are 24 or 48 hours continuously.
Feren struck up a friendship with the party next door (I struck up a friendship with their alcoholic drink dispenser). They had a pretty nice audio setup, and were broadcasting music and, eventually, Klingon propaganda into the party area. They even featured an interview with interstellar superstar, K'Elvis. Unfortunately, I missed the cleavage contest.
Much of the rest of Saturday night is a blur. I know I took some pictures of interesting costumes. I went to the Trailer Park (showing of a bunch of movie trailers, with commentary by a couple of the GOHs) in Convergence's amazing video room, Cinema Rex. I've never seen such an excellent video room setup. Of course, I ended up sitting next to Tim Wick. I'm not quite sure why he kept getting featured in my weekend. Eventually, the Cthulhu party closed down, and I helped pack up. Afterwards, Cheb, myself, and her two self-described 'slum lords' (owners of the house in which Cheb lives) Rick and Sharon wandered around the remaining parties. I was a bit out of place; the three of them knew a lot of people, and I knew no one. I finally crashed about 3am.
Not much occured on Sunday. I got up about 11, and wandered downstairs, with the intention of eventually going to a panel on special effects at 12:30. I walked past the art show for the first time all weekend, only to realize that the auction had happend the night before. For someone who used to run convention art shows, I was amazingly remiss in not stopping into this one. Cinema Rex was next to the art show, and I got sucked into watching the last 2/3 of The Fellowship of the Ring. So much for going to that panel. I also learned later that I missed lunch with the pack and Cheb, which I regret.
After more laziness in the hotel room, we went to closing ceremonies, which dragged on forever, much like opening ceremonies. The Convergence board opened with a rather funny skit; I wish the FurFest staff had that much showmanship ability (I certainly don't). The GOHs raved about how much fun they had at the convention, which was really cool to hear. Finally, it ended. I pre-registered for 2003, and then we headed off to dinner at a steakhouse that Feren knew about.
We got back about 9, and I went to watch the first 1/3 of The Fellowship of the Ring, since they had decided to replay it. I almost watched the entire thing again, but it was getting stiflingly hot in the room, and I left for bed after saying goodbye to Cheb.
That was pretty much the end of my con experience...Monday was stopping at Feren's parents for lunch, and the long drive home. Complete with a 45 minute traffic jam in the middle of nowhere Wisonsin.
Overall impressions? I had a blast. I actually attended quite a few panels, which is something I haven't done at a convention in a few years. Convergence had quite a few good ones, and I'm sorry that I missed the ones that I did. The parties also kicked much ass. And the video room was actually cool; most conventions just stash a TV in a corner room somwhere. Having a projector system, popcorn and snacks, and actual couches and chairs to sit on made it a worthy experience. I am very impressed by this convention, and I'm probably going to spend all weekend at Anthrocon comparing and contrasting...AC has a tough act to follow after Convergence.
Oh, and remember the vague foreshadowing about parties earlier in this report? Feren and I were hit by a most evil idea on Saturday night. I think that we are doomed to throw a room party next year. We have the theme. We have the perfect co-conspirator in Cheb and the Cthulhu Coffee room party. We are doomed. Doomed! DOOMED! Convergence 2003 may very well have to obey the fist.