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The good, the bad and the disorganized...

We spent the weekend at SiliCon, the SF Bay Area's small and newly media-oriented fan-run convention. It was fun.

The week was spent (if you read kproche's journal, you know this already) rebuilding the Stargate prop and doing way too much to prepare for the con. We did get nearly all the packing done, though, on Thursday night. This was good, since neither of us had taken Friday off.

We got everything to the Doubletree to find that the entire parking lot had been converted to paid parking, and was promoting airport parking rates. We took valet parking (it was only $15/day, with in-and-out) before we found out that
  1. self-parking was free for hotel guests
  2. the convention had parking vouchers for members
Still, wasn't bad in the end, as valet parking was convenient. As it turned out, parking did fill on Saturday night. Will probably be a much bigger problem for Further Confusion and BayCon

So we're in and we've picked up our badges. I found one snafu on my program item list; I was included on a panel that I hadn't expected to be, but there were plenty of other people and I could skip out on it.

Meet the guests was interesting. Well, not really. At times it verged on boring. It was MTG/GOH-speeches, and ran long. The introductory magic show was actually pretty cool; the guy was good, even dealing with a major prop failure. Bill and Toni Blair were great toastmasters, but having driven from LA on nearly no sleep, massacred a few names in introductions. Diana Paxson did a decent speech, but one that was more than a bit long for MTG. Tom Whitmore was brief, but amusing. Kathy Garver was a bit out of her element, but was a total darling. Phil Yeh wasn't brief, but damn, that man is funny.

After MTG, we hit the parties. There were probably as many parties as there were at BayCon, with BASFA and the Funk Band, BayCon/Gnomeward Bound, Mara's Bar, the incognito Enterprize party, and Sir Lance's party. Better than BayCon? I think so.

We crashed early-ish. K had his Spintronics panel at 10:00am, so he needed to be fresh.

K did his panel, we had a bit of lunch and I did a run to Smart & Final for the snack shopping run that should have happened before the con. I got back in time for K's Stage Movement panel (the one that I didn't expect to be on) to finish, and we got to decorating.

The gate was perhaps more frustrating to get up than it was the first time; initial problems had been solved but new ones cropped up. I worked on things until 4:00 when I joined Jay Hartlove and Terry Terry on a panel about "No-sew Costuming."

It was a blast.

I just wish more people had shown up (story of programming this weekend; a bunch of really great panels that nobody came to). Jay and I know different tricks for costume-construction without sewing, so we were pretty well set there. Terry is a retired anthropologist, and kept on bringing up ethnic and historical costume that was no-sew. Jay and I generally knew quite a bit about those areas, but wouldn't have thought to mention them. We talked about everything.

Panel finished and I got back to decorating. We were joined by johny__b just in time for the gate to come crashing down. None of the glass broke, the new subframe didn't break, the foamcore was only lightly damaged, but the 3/16" steel shelf brackets took a serious bend and that was it for the stand. We would have been better off if the bottom join had been a bit wider so we could more securely attach it to the brackets, but none of us had thought of that. We pulled of the two bottom spars and joints, and tipped the gate back up against the wall. One of the damaged foams was sliced apart to make half-fascia pieces to mask the bottom of the exposed remaining spars. Further use of the gate will follow this plan; the freestanding full ring is just too much trouble and surprisingly, this looks better.

Unfortunately, that meant we didn't finish decorating until somewhere around 9:00, and had to order in room service for a quick bite. I only got about 1/3 of the Hall of Fame posters up, but it was satisfactory.

Snacks and bev were amazingly successful. We had stem cells, dilithium crystals and electronic thumbs. Strangely enough, the Sour Green Apple Abba-Zabba (a Hayward original) was popular.

roguishdevil showed up to tend bar for us, and kept the wine flowing. We ran out the remaining Domaine Ste. Michelle, the remaining TJ's Blanc de Blancs, the remaining cheap cava and some Totts and Little Valley sparklers we had accumulated along the way.

Party ran 'til about 4:00am. We did check in on the other parties, including Lillian Csernica's pirate party, the Browncoats party, more BayCon/GnomeCon, more Sir Lance party, that 70's SF Show and the now-in-uniform Enterprize party right next to Mara's Bar. All in all, most excellent nightlife for a con of only around 800 members.

Sunday morning we got up, tore down the room, hauled a load home and got back for K's run of the Ready, Steady, Sew video. He had around 2 dozen people, and from what I saw, it was perhaps the best-attended program item besides "Meet the Guests." I packed up the exhibits case, hauled it out to the car, and did one last run through the dealers' room.

Dealers' room was kind of blah; very small (tho, for the size of the con, that wasn't a bad thing). Didn't even make it into the art show. Several artists who didn't get dealers tables (including dinogrl) were set up in the "artists alley" back by poolside.

Had a bit of dinner with Gerry Nordley, Gayle W, and Frank Wu, gabbed with dinogrl, Dave and Dave, and then put in an appearance at the dead dog party before heading home. Second carload was just the suitcase and party crate #1 (which we were hoping to pass to iamradar and reddheart but scheduling fell apart on).

Got home, crashed, that's it.

The good: The con drew more people, programming was excellent, the guests were fun, and the nightlife was great. The 'zine was beautifully laid out, easy to read and contained great and even sometimes useful articles.

The bad: Nobody went to panels. Registration was incredibly slow if you weren't staff or a panelist. There was an atrocious "history" of conventions and of SiliCon in the program book littered with inaccuracies (for example, Creation Entertainment is not and never was owned by Paramount, and wasn't started by them in the '80s; it was started by two guys in the 70's to let them meet stars, impress girls by knowing stars and get laid, and they've since learned that being rich and knowing stars improves the odds even more).

The disorganized: There was a lot happening at the last minute, and if you knew what you were looking at you could see the edges fraying.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
minotaurs
Oct. 10th, 2005 07:10 pm (UTC)
800 = small? I just spent the weekend volunteering at Reg for Conjecture, San Diego's youngest con. Membership = ~250.

Actually, I think I prefer the smaller cons, like Conjecture. Small enough that you can recognize people, and meet them through simple repetition.
bovil
Oct. 11th, 2005 06:51 pm (UTC)
I really like annual cons in the 400-person range, but it's tricky around here getting a hotel that is affordable, has enough function space and yet is small enough for the con to nearly take over for a weekend. I used to go to DemiCon and ICON in Iowa (Des Moines and Iowa City) and they always floated around this size.

It's still possible for the average fan to meet GoHs at conventions in the 1,000 range. I saw plenty of Diana Paxson and Jon DeCles (but they're friends), Tom Whitmore (ditto) and Bill & Toni Blair (whom I didn't know from Adam at the beginning of the weekend, but by Saturday were hanging out in our party). Somehow I missed Peter S. Beagle, but I think that was more from being overcommitted myself.

The SJ Doubletree really needs a 1500-person convention to not feel like you're rattling around in it.
minotaurs
Oct. 12th, 2005 08:08 am (UTC)
I'm not really so interested in meeting the GOHs most of the time. This weekend at Conjecture, for example, it was Jack McDevitt - and I haven't read any of his works. It's other fen I'm interested in meeting.
bovil
Oct. 12th, 2005 01:03 pm (UTC)
I usually don't give a rat's ass about meeting GoHs (unless they're friends from out of town). We may be going to World Horror in SF next spring, though, because of the GoH.

It's Clive Barker.
iamradar
Oct. 10th, 2005 07:35 pm (UTC)
The disorganized: There was a lot happening at the last minute, and if you knew what you were looking at you could see the edges fraying.

Oh yeah...definite in sincere agreement with that one!

The room parties were great and definitely a highlight of the evening. The stargate looked fabulous (despite needing the major surgery) and I know I had a great time that evening.
johny__b
Oct. 10th, 2005 09:47 pm (UTC)
Yep, and we still didn't fail to enjoy ourselves. :)
"We," being the royal we. :)
esprix
Oct. 11th, 2005 03:26 pm (UTC)
You were missed at Conjecture.
bovil
Oct. 11th, 2005 07:58 pm (UTC)
Yah, we probably would have had a great time, but I'm so far into the "I hate travel" mindset that anything over an hour's trip gets me cranky at the moment.
esprix
Oct. 11th, 2005 09:20 pm (UTC)
Understandable, although now I don't know when I'll see you next. Foo. :(
bovil
Oct. 11th, 2005 09:23 pm (UTC)
Worst case is probably G-Con next summer in Toronto. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if by the time February rolls around that you and Q won't be dying to get somewhere warmer and find y'all at Gallifrey.
esprix
Oct. 11th, 2005 09:38 pm (UTC)
We'll see. Our travel budget isn't going to be all that big. We're house hunting after all.
supersniffles
Oct. 11th, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC)
We're more than half expecting the hotel to give up on the pay parking before it actually becomes an issue for BayCon attendees. (As I understand it the hotel has to pay the parking company even when the guests and convention attendees are getting in free.)
bovil
Oct. 11th, 2005 06:42 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's going to be that easy to break the contract with the parking company. Sorry.

Michael might have a contract clause strong enough, though, to make the hotel buy the whole lot from the parking company during the convention and make sure there are no airport parkers during then.
seamoose
Oct. 12th, 2005 02:28 pm (UTC)
Another group that I belong to is having a get together at that hotel in early January, and it looks like they are expecting to do the same kind of arrangement as we had last weekend. And this will be for a gathering of 1200+ people.
supersniffles
Oct. 12th, 2005 07:04 pm (UTC)
As far as I know it's already set that BC attendees won't have to pay.
bovil
Oct. 12th, 2005 07:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's almost certain. BayCon has long-term contracts that existed before the pay parking was put in. The issue I'm thinking of is that BayCon overloaded the parking lot well before the hotel was encouraging airport parking. It's only going to be worse now.
supersniffles
Oct. 12th, 2005 08:57 pm (UTC)
You misunderstand the hotel's point! They are tired of airport people parking in their nice free lot and so now charge to discourage it. (Or at least that's the way it was presented to me)
bovil
Oct. 12th, 2005 11:30 pm (UTC)
Yeah.

Right.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )