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That Conzilla report...

I had a blast at Conzilla. It was the most Westercon-like Westercon in years, the night-life was excellent, the program was excellent, the hotel's flaws were mostly minor, and even felt like it was a bit bigger than the on-site member count suggested.

Details?

We hopped in the car early (7:30-ish) Friday morning to head down to San Diego. Seeing how the 4th of July was on a Tuesday, there was a chance that holiday weekend traffic would be a bit lighter than usual. It was, but that's not saying a lot.

We made Casa de Fruta by 8:30 (a perfectly reasonable time), stopped for breakfast, and spent quite a bit of time shopping for CdF wine and snacks for the hollister2008 party. The continuing run down I-5 was a bit busy, but nothing out of order (unlike the fire later that night at the 152/I-5 interchange). We made it to the Getty in LA before traffic got ugly, and then it was slow-and-go down to the LA/Orange County border. OC was pretty reasonable except for the I-5/405 interchange and the John Wayne Airport traffic. As it turns out, though, there was a fire in San Diego County that closed I-15, so traffic on I-5 from Oceanside to Encinitas was slow-and-go. Subtracting the CdF stop, it took us around 9 1/2 hours to get to San Diego; not great, but not bad for the day before a holiday weekend.

The con was at the beautiful San Diego Marriott Mission Valley. Yeah, it actually was beautiful, although that beauty was marred by half the pool area being re-grouted and all the rooms being cracker-box sized. Still, if I wasn't planning to throw a party and the pool was complete, I'd stay there again. We got checked in pretty quickly, and were told that our adjoining party room would be available for check in the next morning.

There wasn't much on the slate for Friday night. The con didn't open until the next morning, but registration was already open and running efficiently and a gang of earlybird sports fans had gone to Petco Park to see the Padres game. Dealers room was loading in already, so we said "hi" to dinogrl, Dave Clark, Janet Anderson and lyzard13 (who all seemed to be happy about moving in that evening rather than the next morning). The Las Vegas in 2008 Westercon bid was hosting a party, at which we met many still-arriving fans.

Saturday the con got off to an early start. I had an 11:00am panel (before Opening Ceremonies, I think) on costuming from your closet with Arabella Benson, Karen Anderson and Sandy Manning (who had just stepped off the airport shuttle). I missed opening ceremonies (as I often do), probably while trying to get some lunch.

The Dealers' room was pretty decent, split between several book dealers with mostly mutually-exclusive stocks and a few dealers of stuff of interest to fans. It wasn't big, but it was a good selection.

galtine1, Lamont and I did a shopping run for party supplies. S was shopping for the three Guest-of-Honor parties, and I was shopping for our two parties. We covered a lot of ground. The rest of the afternoon was spent (for us) getting ready for the "Hollister in 2008: A Bid for Casa de Worldcon" party and K getting ready to go on stage as Conrad T. Lizard at the "Meet the Guests Cabaret." The party was simple. The lizard not so much.

"Meet the Guests" was probably the shakiest thing at Conzilla. I'm used to the BayCon-style "Meet the Guests" where (because it's a workday afternoon) Opening Ceremonies isn't a big deal and the night-time "Meet the Guests" is the real kick-off. This wasn't quite the big production (but Opening Ceremonies were mid-day Saturday). The lizard did a few short lounge numbers (with minor technical difficulties that nitroace worked very hard to correct), the toastmaster said a few things about the Guests of Honor, and that was about it. After that, the lights were really too low to socialize inside, and things broke up pretty quickly.

Afterwards, we went back up to the party. room. We got there well before our 9:00 scheduled opening time. This wasn't a big deal; the Hollister party practically throws itself. Set-up was already done, decoration was already done, and all we had to do was receive ice from the party maven, unzip a few snack bags and start serving.

Everything in the party was Casa de Fruta product (we didn't remember to get sake from Hollister's own Ozeki USA sake brewery), still in the CdF packaging. The nuts, dried fruit and novelty chocolate were all very popular, but not as popular as the CdF Santa Rosa plum wine and pomegranate wine. We sold quite a few pre-supporting memberships (that I have to process and get into the spreadsheet). Down the hall Kevin J Anderson's book release party was going full steam, and on the lower floor Gnomeward Bound, Vegas in 2008, Phoenix in 2008 and several other parties were hopping. Pretty good for a 600-person convention.

Sunday K had no panels, but I had two. "Convention traditions we no longer need" was a wide-ranging discussion of things we do at conventions that don't seem to draw the attention and support they used to but keep going on and on. "Lost: what's really happening" was a rollicking discussion of theories surrounding that oh-so-confusing popular science fiction (or is it?) television show. I am the supreme Lost guru, as I am supremely baffled.

He got to do most of the party decoration for the loeg party. The paint was really awful; nothing would stick to it, so we ended up with a reduced set of posters. The party itself was excellent, though. We handed out a ton of "Minion" ribbons and we had many people go for the "Lab Rat" ribbons (Coffin Liquor and Alchemist Series #1 were very popular, Wolf Urine wasn't, and of course the youngsters went for the candy). Gnomeward Bound was in session again, along with DarkCon, Leprecon, Loscon, the Walter Jon Williams Margarita Party and a few others. We did not close the convention when we closed at 4:30; Anticipation (the Montreal 2009 Worldcon bid) did at 5:00.

Monday was not lost in a hung-over haze, at least not for us. It was for others. I had "The Blog ate my 'Zine" with Bobbi Armbruster and Lynn Maudlin; it was fun and all of us had done paper zines in the past. K had a "Stage Movement" workshop in the morning that was very sparsely attended and his science lecture in the afternoon that was packed. We got a bit of dinner (for a light day the schedule was crazy) and did Workmanship judging for the Masquerade.

Masquerade was small (10 entries) and several entries were press-ganged up on stage. The quality, though, was impressive (even the press-ganged insta-costumes). Half the entrants took workmanship judging. We turned our awards around pretty quickly, and the presentation panel did too, letting us get to the parties early.

There weren't as many parties on Monday night, but there were still enough. The Monday GoH party was Bobbi's Port Party. Much port was drunk. This was later followed by the traditional semi-closed "Sweets" party, and one of the biggest we've had in a while (in a cracker-box sized room). Much dessert wine was drunk.

Tuesday morning was clean-up and move-out time for the party room. I may have blown off an 11:00 panel. Looking back at my LJ and the participant email I was scheduled for a Brit vs US genre television discussion but I don't remember seeing it on my schedule on the back of my badge. That's fine; we had "The Match Game" at 12:00 anyway, and I just made it there.

Match game was lightly attended (maybe 2 dozen people average) but was delightfully bitchy. Scott Norton, figmo, K, Nora Rankin, myself and Cody Goodfellow came up with some hysterically bad answers, and did a good job reproducing the feel of the 70's game show for kevin_standlee. We got through 6 games in a reasonable time. Next time, though, we need cocktails.

K ran closing ceremonies for Christian McGuire as Conrad again, and we spent a bit of time at the bar noshing and chatting with people as the con ran down. We skipped the bitch session and satisfied ourselves with the reported highlights. The dead dog party was kind of light, but reminded me a lot of the great dead dog parties of yesteryear.

The return drive on Sunday afternoon was a lot nicer than the drive down. A few minor clots leaving San Diego, passing the Orange County Airport, and getting the last 3 or so miles to the 405/101 interchange were about it. We got home late, but in good shape.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
kevin_standlee
Jul. 11th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC)
We got checked in pretty quickly, and were told that our adjoining party room would be available for check in the next morning.
You know this, of course, but a footnote about your adjoining room is provided in one of my entries reporting on the trip. The hotel originally put me in your adjoining room, then, just as I was finishing unpacking and thinking of taking a nap, called me to tell me they'd made a mistake and that I needed to move across the hall. It was a mildly strange feeling to come back to that room later in the weekend with the bed removed and the party in full swing.
jbriggs
Aug. 4th, 2006 09:17 pm (UTC)
Meet the Guests
"Meet the Guests" was probably the shakiest thing at Conzilla. ... The lizard did a few short lounge numbers..., the toastmaster said a few things about the Guests of Honor, and that was about it. After that, the lights were really too low to socialize inside, and things broke up pretty quickly.

The idea was that the Dance was supposed to start right after the Meet the Guests; that way it would start with a big crown and the young adults would have someting to do. Unfortunately the DJ was trapped off site until 10:30pm, and the hotel closed it down at midnight.

Thanks for the write-up, BTW. (and sorry for this very late comment)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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