Celebration got its own posting, so I'll largely skip over that. msmemory and I had a quick dinner before the game at McCormick & Schmick, which I dearly wish had an outpost in the suburbs -- it's pricey, but it really is the best fish restaurant I know. And after the game, I managed to completely overwhelm my current alcohol tolerance with a chocolate martini. Note to self: a six-ounce martini is not the right thing to have when you're already dehydrated.
Panels: I moderated Cool Comics You're Not Reading Yet, which turned out to be three Fenmeri plus sdavido. We took turns recommending books, and all of us ran on at the mouth a bit, but it was fun. Since someone previously asked: I wound up mentioning The Red Star, The Marquis, Metal Hurlant, Faction Paradox and Evenfall. I didn't get around to Noble Causes, Aria, Beware the Creeper, Red (as an example of the various miniseries that Warren Ellis is currently doing), Rex Mundi, Fables, The Human Target or Arrowsmith, which were the others I'd brought with me.
Pitfalls for New GMs was kind of interesting, since I had assumed it was a LARP panel and the other panelists had assumed it was a tabletop panel. So we did a lot of compare and contrast, seeing what issues are similar and which are different.
Fictitious Religions was a blast. We had a fine wander through subjects of sociology, the relation of religion and culture, the issues that real religions tend to address, and a good deal of discussion of why most religions depicted in SF (especially in Star Trek) are so shallow.
The Next Big Thing in Technology was an odd one -- I wound up moderating two guys who knew quite a bit more than me. But I had fun speculating wildly, and think I made the right choice starting us off with biotech as the first subject, leading to a lot more discussion of culture and a lot less talk about toys.
Other Saturday: Okay, I'll admit it: Tom Smith rocks. I need to get all of his CDs. You win. After his Saturday concert, I wound up earwormed with Rocket Ride for the rest of the weekend.
I earned doobie points by giving blood Saturday afternoon; that went rather better than the past couple of times, very quick and relatively painless. I missed most of ladysprite's Fantasy Forensics panel, but based on what I saw at the end she seems to have come through that with flying colors. (The audience was happily peppering her with speculative questions about the biology of various fantasy critters.)
The Masquerade was fairly average: some good stuff, some terrible stuff, nothing that really knocked my socks off. It was fun getting the now-traditional trailers show at halftime, but I was disappointed not to find anything that completely grabbed me. (Aside from Sky Captain, which we have already established looks like it might be the coolest movie this year.)
Post-trailers, a bunch of us went out for dessert at Finale. It was very tasty, but I'll admit a shade pricey even for my blood: $80-mumble for dessert for five. Okay, yes -- drinks accounted for a lot of that. Still...
Dancing: After dessert, msmemory and I wandered around until about 1am, at which point I wanted to get some dancing in. So I wandered downstairs, only to be confronted with a knot of Carolingians standing around outside the ballroom. new_man assured me that I did not want to go in; when I made to do so anyway, he said that they'd be out there when I gave up. I was skeptical: after all, how bad could it be?
Answer: that bad. The DJ this year was very talented at the special effects -- the lights were dazzling, the video effects were cool, the audio effects interesting. The one thing he was not good at was playing music that anyone would want to dance to. ladysprite and I valiantly attempted to dance for a few minutes, but started to get really frustrated when the music trailed off into artistic waterfall noises for about five minutes.
Fortunately, we got to talking about it, and she pointed out that we could do something about it. After all, Celebration was set at the High School Prom. I had a relatively loud boombox; she had the CDs that she and umbran had burned for the dance. We looked up at the stage (still showing beautiful CGI set to the waterfall noises), and decided that it was our holy mission to Save the Dancing.
We grabbed the Carolingian Mob, told them to follow us, and went up to the fourth floor. The room we'd used for the Prom turned out to be unlocked and empty, so we colonized it. We got the music system and discs, and began to play. Jasmina did a trip back downstairs to put up a sign advertising the "80s-ish Dance Party Upstairs", and we were off and running.
Things grew steadily from there. I think it was around 1:45 when Security wandered by for the third time, and told us that we'd been blessed as a quasi-official alternate dance party, so long as we were well-behaved. By about 3am, I gather that most of the dancers at the Con had made their way up to us: Security came by again, to tell us that the DJ had been fired, and someone who actually understands dance had been installed in his place. We declared victory, cleaned up the room, and went back down to show our support for Real Dancing. I eventually went to bed around 4am, in a considerably better mood than I've been in for weeks.
Lodging: msmemory and I wound up with a good, if odd, room at the Park Plaza. The "Executive King" turned out to be a room with one bed, two bathrooms, and six towels for the two of us. A good deal of floor space, although only average by Park Plaza standards. We've had rooms ranging in size from broom closets to football fields there -- the hotel has a very strange layout.
Good thing about the room: it had a thermostat. (Something I've never seen at the Park Plaza before.) Bad thing about the room: the thermostat was wholly ineffective. I set it for 60 degrees on a frigid night, and the room still never went below 69.
Okay, enough. Overall: a good weekend. Now I just need to get some sleep...