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Time to write...

First things first.

I had a blast at Denvention 3. For all the worries among smoffish types, it turned out to be a flawed but generally good convention.

There was reason to worry. The facilities contracts and usage was a mess (don't blame facilities, the actual facilities team came on after the letters of intent had already expired and had to renegotiate everything from behind the 8-ball). The local fannish groups (as in Denver local, not the more generous Colorado local) weren't feeling the love from the committee over the last few years, and weren't happy about that. Programming was showing some pretty rough edges, and there was a definite lack of breadth compared to what people expect from Worldcon programming. Communication with top levels of the committee (with the exception of lauriemann, who ran the website and posted buckets of useful official information on denvention3) wasn't terribly reliable.

On the up-side, in spite of the long (and understated) walks between some hotels (like, say, the hospitality/party hotel) and the convention center, downtown Denver was an excellent location and (wonkiness aside) the facilities were, for the most part, excellent facilities for a Worldcon. With better facilities options/contracts during the campaign and different people running the bid, I would vote for a Denver bid again.

So what happened?

We flew in on Tuesday morning, got our badges (pre-reg pick-up on Tuesday was pretty efficient, but we heard it wasn't on Wednesday) and got checked in to the hotel. The Sheraton was being a bit sloppy with check-in, but after a bit of fiddling we got into our party-floor room. There was a bit of concern about parties being on the top (and concierge/club level) floor of the Sheraton, but it turned out to work far better than expected (though there were problems). We also caught up with Jill and Don (for whom we were working on the Masquerade) and Jim Mann in program ops (who was applying massive amounts of fixit to the program) to confirm that the supplies for K's Friday panel were actually arranged. We also stopped at the Australia 2010 Bid Party (in a function room in the secret sub-basement of the Sheraton, which triggered the 8th sign of the apocalypse, no beer in an Aussie bid party) and chatted with folks there.

Wednesday was the beginning of work on the con. K was making an appearance in opening ceremonies, and unfortunately things were a bit confused. Still, we found the Mannings and got adequate answers on where and when he had to show up. We also visted philfoglio and kajafoglio at their dealers table (where K showed off his Van costume). I also grabbed a little time with mishalak to run to the liquor store to pick up champagne.

Opening Ceremonies did turn out to screw up more of the day than we had anticipated, but not that badly. On the upside, they were short and simple, rather than long and boring. The "Barrayaran Summerfair" that followed was a nice idea, but the execution was a bit mixed. I don't think they were really ready to open the Summerfair when opening ceremonies ended, and the convention center catering staff certainly wasn't. There was also no attempt to clear the chairs from part of opening ceremonies, so a large ballroom full of people sitting was stuck with a small (1/6) ballroom of social area.

After dinner we headed to the parties. Xerps in 2010, Reno in 2011 and Seattle in 2011 were anchoring the floor, and would continue to do so throughout the weekend. We ran into Wil McCarthy (with whom K was working on Masquerade) and talked over MC scenarios and plans for the show. Wil had some great ideas that we helped flesh out.

Thursday was a bit of madness. I talked with a few of the other masquerade judges about our direction for Friday night, and we ended up doing a printer-shopping run for Jill (who discovered the printer they were planning to use for mug shots was a bit too slow). Parties happened again.

Friday was real madness. K had to spend the day at masquerade tech rehearsal, working with Wil. That was the theory at least. Programming, though, hadn't taken Wil's job (as Toastmaster) into account, nor K's job as MC's assistant. Wil had two panels scheduled against rehearsal, and K had one. This was a really big, really bad mistake, but one that could be covered for.

I had to sort out things with the judges, and we got everyone we could over to "Pi" at the Hilton Garden for happy-hour appetizers (so we wouldn't die of starvation). There we dealt with the other program schedule screw-ups. Rick Sternbach (artist GoH and all-around great guy) was scheduled for his GoH interview in the last slot before the masquerade, so he had that deadline hanging over him. That wasn't a real big deal, but he couldn't join us for dinner. John Hertz was scheduled for his Jack Vance retrospective panel in the last slot before the masquerade, while he was supposed to be in the green room judging workmanship. That was a big deal, and one that couldn't really be covered up.

With all that mess, though, Jill and wren13 pulled together an excellent masquerade. The facilities were superb. Don G. ran a great green room. We started on time. Tech was rock-solid. Wil was funny. The entries were great. Judging wrapped in an hour. Awards were given (although the entrants had a difficult time hearing their awards). We were done and cleaning up by 10:40, well before the "you must be out" deadline with the theater.

Parties happened again. We missed the Gaylaxians party and Match Game SF but still had a great time. We had folks over for champagne, and eventually went to bed.

Saturday we could finally relax a bit. We showed up for the post-masq panel, but didn't stay. Most of the day was spent hanging out.

We did, though, go to the Hugo Awards on Saturday night. The theater was so nice we decided it was worth it to attend in person, and it was a good choice. Alas, my choices for the fan Hugos went unrecognized, and my fave for best Pro Artist came in 4th (of 6). It was an excellent show, though. Wil, again, was fabulous, as were all the presenters.

Saturday was the last big party blow-out. It was fun, though. kevin_standlee passed along his "Hugo Losers Party" invitation to us, and Wil got us in to the SFWA suite, but both were very crowded so we bailed quickly and headed back to the regular party floor.

Sunday the con wrapped at (I think) 2:00pm. Closing ceremonies was as short as opening, and Anticipation (Montreal 2009) ran a funny (but partially inaudible, until a microphone was retrieved for them) little sketch introducing their division heads and pimping their skills (I think to point out how they wouldn't be another Torcon 3 or Denvention 3). There wasn't much of an official or unofficial "dead dog" party, just the consuite trying to clear out all their excess food (and having to close down at 10:00 because of the aforementioned renegotiated contracts). We cleaned up, checked email and went to bed.

Monday morning we awoke to a wonky hotel bill. Apparently, so did everybody else who was staying on the 22nd floor. It was remarked that the Sheraton's billing system was written by drunken trolls, but I'm betting on drunken gnomes. Still, the fabulous TR was able to get our bills correctly credited as we checked out and made our way to the airport.

So, again, a flawed con, but in many ways better than it deserved to be. It wasn't another Torcon 3. It wasn't even close. It wasn't another Nolacon. It was easy to overlook most of the problems, or even miss them entirely, and that's a sign that the on-site staff and committee were doing, for the most part, an excellent job.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
boywhocantsayno
Aug. 19th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
Closing ceremonies was as short as opening, and Anticipation (Montreal 2009) ran a funny (but partially inaudible, until a microphone was retrieved for them) little sketch introducing their division heads and pimping their skills (I think to point out how they wouldn't be another Torcon 3 or Denvention 3).

No pressure. ;)
bovil
Aug. 19th, 2008 01:05 am (UTC)
Well, you know as well as anyone else how many people who were soured on Canadian attempts at traveling conventions by Torcon 3 and Due North (Calgary Westercon 59) problems. Nobody remembers how Winnipeg kept their problems well-hidden.
jbriggs
Aug. 19th, 2008 06:17 am (UTC)
Westercon 58!
rmjwell
Aug. 19th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)
How was the altitude and the distance between venues? That was one of several reasons I voted for Chicago as my first preference at LACon IV. Did fandom hold up okay?
yourbob
Aug. 19th, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
fwiw, The actual distance from farthest points was about five blocks (maybe six), all flat with elevators and escalators at the venues. Talking with several other sea-level fans, very few seemed to have any problem.

In my case the distance did cause me not to attend parties, but not for breathing reasons (I foolishly stayed at the Hyatt instead of the Sheratan).

Bovil will have his own observations.
bovil
Aug. 19th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
The altitude wasn't a problem from my perspective. I got a smidge queasy on Sunday, which I attribute to the altitude, but that was really it.

I was very irritated with the committee's insistence on describing distances as the crow flies. The "5 blocks" from the Sheraton to the convention center was six, and a few of those blocks were almost San Francisco SOMA long. There was also the missing final two blocks within the convention center, as we were (mostly) at the farthest end from the hotels.
hazelchaz
Aug. 28th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
Distances
We need to send kevin_standlee to each con site to do his walking thing. A standard measure of distance.
dave_gallaher
Aug. 19th, 2008 06:41 am (UTC)
"Opening Ceremonies did turn out to screw up more of the day than we had anticipated, but not that badly. On the upside, they were short and simple, rather than long and boring. The "Barrayaran Summerfair" that followed was a nice idea, but the execution was a bit mixed. I don't think they were really ready to open the Summerfair when opening ceremonies ended, and the convention center catering staff certainly wasn't. There was also no attempt to clear the chairs from part of opening ceremonies, so a large ballroom full of people sitting was stuck with a small (1/6) ballroom of social area."

Originally, the Summerfaire reception was to use both Korbel 2A and 3A. The airwall was to be up between 2A and 2B, and the portable wall in place between 3A and 3B. After the reception, the CCC would put the airwall between 2A and 3A in place and create two meeting rooms there, leaving Korbel 2BC3BC as the film room. While the CCC and the tech crew were setting up 2BC3BC, they realized that the airwall separating 2A and 3A was on a track that ran down the middle fo the room, and it could not be put in place after the tech set up because the screen and the rigging for the tech equipment crossed the center of the room. The decision was made to put the airwall in place so that 2A and 3A could be used as separate rooms per the programing schedule and only use 3A for the Summerfaire reception. While we did clear tables and chairs from 3A, the realization that we could only use 3A came too late for us to really do anything about clearing chairs from 2BC3BC.

This is something the CCC should have realized earlier than the set up day, as they had our plans, room set ups, and tech diagrams a month in advance.

The folks planning Opening Ceremonies thought they would run 45 minutes, and everything for Summerfaire was planned for a 6:15 PM ending. There was a bit of a scramble when Opening Ceremonies actually ended at 5:50 PM.
bovil
Aug. 19th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was just giving the nutshell version. You did hear that when the CCC catering folks were putting out the food they thought that they could make everybody wait until 6:45 before folks would take anything?
dave_gallaher
Aug. 20th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC)
It wasn't that the Centerpointe folks thought they could make everyone wait until 6:45; they were told not to serve before 6:45. Of course, that was before Opening Ceremonies ended 25 minutes earlier than expected....
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )