Curiously, in the first 20 minutes I was at the convention, I ran into four other fannish Freemasons, only two of whom I'd known before. (Including one, whose name I'm spacing on, who had the coolest Masonic leather jacket, with a rendition of the English-rite trestleboard painted on the back.) Of course, I didn't run into any others all weekend, but it did briefly feel like we were taking over the place. Eric gave me a fine square-and-compass sticker for my con badge, and an "Illuminati" ribbon to hang from it.
The con badges were mondo slick. Heavy plastic with full-color illustrations, and your name and info printed onto it. Felt disconcertingly professional.
Ribbons were the official game of the convention. Recognizing that folks love to collect ribbons of all sorts, the con went to town with it, producing dozens of ribbons, each sillier than the one before. A few actually had significant meanings (msmemory was terribly disappointed that she couldn't have a "Cat Herder" ribbon, which was apparently reserved for division heads), but most were simply being handed out at whim by the con staff. I wound up with the aforementioned "Illuminati", an "Are You a Turtle?" (which I got mainly by dint of knowing the correct answer to the question), and "I Just Want To Dance" (of course), as well as the terribly mundane "Program Participant". Folks who were working at it wound up with a lot more: tpau had a raft of them daisy-chained down from her badge.
Hotel matters went surprisingly well. I was a bit cross initially that they stuck me on the smoking floor, but the room turned out not to smell of smoke at all, and it was the lowest quiet floor, level 6. Which meant that I could simply avoid the elevators pretty much all weekend and use the stairs instead, always a good thing at a con. However, as is always the case at the Park Plaza, the thermostats were basically inoperable. Getting the room termperature right was a matter of cracking the window just the tiniest bit, to let the slightest draft of three-degree air in, and leaving the door to the bathroom (with The Incredibly Enthusiastic Radiator) open just the right amount.
msmemory and I had dinner at McCormack & Schmick, the in-house restaurant at the Park Plaza. Much yumminess ensued. M&S does fish, and essentially nothing else -- they have a very large menu with a little tiny section of beef & chicken dishes in the corner. Fabulous food, although rather on the pricy side.
Collision Imminent! was, as usual, a hoot to run. I'm very proud of that game: we wrote it in 36 hours flat (we've tweaked it here and there since then, but it's still essentially the same game) and all three runs to date have been great fun. As usual, I was playing the Horde GM, which meant that I didn't actually see much of the game: my job is to be in the Horde Room and hand out character sheets at a constant breakneck pace. But the stories were good, and it warmed the cockles of my heart to hear the Church of Transformation merrily singing, "We're all gonna diiie! We're all gonna diiie!" in the other room.
Saturday's main focus was the two panels I was on. Once again, I was reminded of just how much I enjoy being on panels, especially when it's a good topic. The first one was on Memes, and was a fun, crowded, freewheeling discussion of how memes make their way around the world, whether the free flow of memes is good or bad, in what ways the Internet has actually changed their spread, and other such high-falutin' stuff. We were entirely successful in avoiding the concrete: every time the discussion started getting too grounded in real examples, we were off and running on high philosophy again.
Second panel was "Connecting With Communities". This was a bit smaller, and not quite as boisterous, but I think it was relatively useful -- a couple of folks in the audience were actually trying to build communities, and we got into a lot of nitty-gritty discussion about what does and doesn't work. Tibicen showed up for that one (in the audience); unsurprisingly, she and I kind of dominated the discussion.
I didn't actually spend a huge amount of money on the dealers. I picked up one t-shirt from Perspicuity (makers of the strangest shirts in the known universe), and of course 51 more buttons from Nancy Lebovitz. Wouldn't be a convention without Nancy Buttons.
In the middle of all this, I went to the Noreascon planning panel, only to discover that it had been moved up and I had already missed it. (Since someone had cleverly scheduled the con chair as being in two panels at the same time.) I talked briefly with Deb Geisler, the chair, about the issue of LARP at Noreascon. I'd like to have a decent LARP track there, but it looks like we're going to have to sell the con on the idea.
After a bit of impromptu co-ordination (msmemory & I having both decided that the only way we were going to find the other was to go back to the room), we wound up having dinner with tpau, learnedax, Charley & Marsy. That turned into a mild comedy of errors, as we found out the hard way just how crowded all the nearby restaurants were. We wound up just settling on the nearby food court: sleazy and slimy, but fast enough to get us back to the ballroom just before the doors opened for the Masquerade.
The Masquerade pre-show was trailers, as previously mentioned. The Masquerade itself wasn't half-bad; I thought there were a lot more interesting displays than last year (when the Hamster Dance parody was almost the only memorable item). Everyone was enormously amused that Rae & company won Best in Show for their Genericostume skit, which was structured as an advertisement for a line of cheapo costumes for sale for Masquerades. Everything in the set (three costumes, plus props) was made of brown paper and cardboard, largely undecorated aside from the barcodes on their asses. To add the cherry on top, the cardboard claymore for the Generic Barbarian costume won a workmanship award.
Following that, msmemory wandered and schmoozed some more, all over the hotel. (Picked up a CD or two based on ladysprite's recommendations; hit the Charlotte NASFiC party for chocolate fondue; watched a really cool German game in the game room that involved racing pucks around a racetrack.) Afterwards, she decided to hit the sack. I was restless, especially after hearing the dance mix coming out of the ballroom, so I decided to stay up for a couple more hours and dance. Unfortunately, there weren't a huge number of people I knew on the dance floor, so I largely wound up dancing by myself, but that proved okay -- it's been a long time since I've simply vegged to the music without thinking too much about the people around me. Good DJing helped a lot: it was a very eclectic dance mix, and easy to lose myself in.
Sunday was a Day of Great Tiredness: I was far too hyped on Saturday night to get any real sleep, so I was in a bit of a fog. Fortunately, I am entirely capable of running a panel in a fog. I was moderator for the Crossgen panel. The subject was one I'm fond of (a comic company that I'm currently reading the entire line from), but the fact is that scheduling a comic book panel for Sunday at noon is a recipe for disaster. We had three panelists; it took about five minutes before we got any audience. We had an entertaining discussion anyway, eventually explaining the company to the one audience member who did show up and showed some modest interest. (We had to explain it to him because he actually knew nothing whatsoever about the company: the convention pocket program claimed that this was a panel about SF art, and that's what he thought he was getting into. Fortunately, he was game to let us blather at him anyway.)
And thence to the Intercon concom meeting. This was a long boring business meeting, and doesn't need much explication here.