Hippoi Athanatoi

WorldCon: Day 3

Saturday morning, we got up fairly early to avoid the fire alarm forcing us to leave the room or get a stern talking to. We got dressed, and sat around—no fire alarm. I guess people learned their lesson. The idea for the day was to go shopping. We did a lot of it, though most was just window-shopping with the occasional bit of tourism. Google maps fooled us into thinking the shopping centers were very widely separated, but in fact most of them were within spitting distance (most notably the trio of the Argyle Arcade, Prince’s Square, and St. Enoch’s (where we left a couple of Scots bemused as we asked them for where we might buy some marmelade). We looked at some antiques, bought this and that (the aforementioned marmelade, from a place called the Whisky Shop, which had giant bottles of whisky on sale for 90-odd, a skin product from Lush that was much cheaper here than in Sweden, and so on), and then decided to go eat.

After consulting the Convention Guide, and seeing that Linda had a yen for Asian, we went to Chukoku, a Chinese-style buffet (they charge you by what time you leave—if you leave before 4:something, it’s 5.80; if before 6:something, ã6.50, etc.) This was actually excellent—_lots_ of different dishes (vegetable mixes, pork, prawn cakes, satays, chicken fried in a batter, noodles, etc.), reasonably well done and spiced, and it was clean, modern, and efficient. If you’re in Glasgow and want a cheap, plentiful meal where you can idle away the minutes and hours, Chukoku would be a good choice.

Then we made our way back to Cairncross to deliver our booty, went over to the convention center to see if they needed volunteers in Ops (they didn’t—this struck us as strange, in retrospect, but it turns out that the Ops room we kept going to was not Programming Ops, which Parris had told us really needed people) and they sent us to the Gopher Hole. We were sent to do door dragon duty at Hall 3, but first we wandered in to try and steal a few minutes looking at the dealer’s room before our shifts started. We had completely forgotten that it was George’s signing then, and ran into several Bros (Broettes? It was cteresa, Cerys, Skylark—who had, as far as I know, just arrived that day—and Filippa) and took some pictures before going off… except we ran into Jamie Sims, who was in a terrible bind. He was put on a very gruelling design schedule and absolutely had to get some descriptions of characters so he could get cracking, and was desperate enough to ask George to spare a few minutes during the signing—it was that bad. But, since we were there, and we know almost everything there is to know, we set him right with a little judicious use of the E-books on my PDA (excellent and convenient for quick look ups—hint, hint, for those who don’t own them yet!).

Jamie thanked us and rushed off. We went our separate ways, to the two doors into the dealer’s room. I partnered with a very nice lady at the dealer’s room door who had con experience but it was her first WorldCon; Linda partnered with a gentleman at the further end of the room. Linda tells me she saw Brian Aldiss OBE, Jim Burns, and Frederic the Guard Goose at her door, but didn’t have the camera to take pictures. I saw Lauren McLaughlin (from the “Creating Characters for Page and Screen” panel), and just had to stop her to thank her for the very interesting comments she made. She said she thought George was also quite good. Also saw Ser Sean and Ser Barry, and said hello to them.

Our time was uneventful, except for the very rude Brit who tried to get into the dealer’s hall without a pass. My partner a the door explained he needed a day pass, which he said was perfectly all right. He and his companion wandered off a short distance, where she must have heard them complaining about being checked at the door, because she went over to try and explain why a pass was needed (I think). A conversation ensued in which he apparently stated that perhaps one day he could too who could be a capitalist imperialist who would then go off and bomb innocent civilians in foreign countries (since he picked up on her American accent). It was terribly rude—especially when she explained to me afterwards that she’s a pacifist Quaker who’s lived in London for the last 15 years. Doh! We both agreed that there just are rude people in the world and there’s not a lot you can do.

5:00 PM arrived without much in the way of relief—just one person. Since I had said earlier I had a panel I really wanted to see (“Silken Blades and Long Blonde Hair”), my partner let me off. But of course, Linda wasn’t relieved. So, I went to the Gopher hole, told them we really needed people to relieve my partner as well as Linda and her partner, and came back. Eventually we recieved enough people, and Linda and I went back to the Gopher Hole to get our hours signed off on before hurrying to the Moat House. Alas, the program was too popular for the room it was in, and the group outside the door straining to listen while some filking was going on in the room next door was three or four deep by the time we got there. After a couple of minutes of straining along with them, we gave it up for a loss and decided to go back to the dealer’s room to see what was on offer. Found some beautiful jewelry Linda lusted after that was just this side of out of our budget, and several book prospects (I picked up two Vance books I never read before for 1 each, so I was quite happy).

6:00 PM brought us to the “Just a Minute” program item, based on a British radio game. A topic is given to an individual, who must speak on it for a full minute without digression, hesitation, or repetition. If they commit one of the three, another contestant may jump in and challenge them on it. If the moderator agrees with the challenge, the new person starts off with whatever amount of time was lift. This is a recipe for a lot of fun, you can be assured. Andy Duncan (who has a most-excellent South Carolinan accent, as well as a lovely wife) moderated, while Sydney Duncan (aforementioned wife), John Meaney, Ian Watson, Pat Cadigan, Connie Willis, and Ellen “Nebula Award Winner” Klages (substituting for Sean McMullen) competed. Ellen had some difficulty getting a grasp of the rules and was slow out of the gate, while Connie Willis was just very, very funny (but so was everyone). But Klages rallied as it went on and won, I think, handily. She was quite competitive, and scared Connie, who wailed that she wanted to be moved to the far end from the table. Pat Cadigan, in the mean time, said some remarkable things in her bid to win—for example, that James Bond had been a lover of hers, and not a particularly good one; or telling Connie to, “Take it, bitch,&quit; or threatening to bitch-slap John Meaney—and brought about quite a lot of laughter.

I was very favorably impressed by everyone, and determined to works by those authors I hadn’t actually read before (Watson and Meaney). It was a great success. A special highlight was Klages’ fantastic steal and continuation on the subject of “the Brides of Dracula”, which was so entrancing that the timekeeper lost track of the time. When he was called on this, he said he had just wanted to hear the rest of the story. Andy Duncan granted Ellen half a point for seducing the timekeeper. Heh.

Then we returned to Cairncross to change and rest our feet for a bit before we walked to the Hilton for the all-night party.

The parties were fantastic. A quick recap:

Chicago in 2008: Still going strong, and this time featuring one of the aliens from the televised adaption of Knight’s “To Serve Man” carrying a book called (of course), “To Serve Fan”, and urging us to ” Eat, humans! Eat!” Got another yummy hotdog, and more Oreos. Later had a good discussion with ztemhead here.

KC in 2009: I can’t recall if we saw Parris this time around, but we did try that lovely drink—quite nice, and they were all so friendly. Picked up more cookies—also yummy. Apparently this one also featured the Montreal (bid?) party, but I missed them and their maple syrup shots which sounded very interesting even though I don’t drink, and I would have tried one if time had allowed. Picked up a KC temporary tattoo which I’ve yet to use, and probably will just keep as a souvenior.

Noreascon IV: Got a “Thank You” sticker and a “First Night” button which looked quite sharp, and then looked around. This one was a very classy party, I thought. Tried to tempt Linda to take strawberries, but she tried only one, and when we went around later in the evening they were all gone. Raspberries in champagne seemed quite popular, as well.

Swedish Fandom: They had traditional Swedish drinks (must, vodka, punsch), korvmacka (sausage sandwich, on a hardbread—I liked it quite a bit, and I believe I ate two, only to learn from the effervescent Flick that they were made of moose, which I had resolutely managed not to eat in all my years here; oh well, it’s tasty), and more. Did not have cold sodas, as the Friendly Norwegians did, but that may be because Swedes aren’t as friendly. It was, on the whole, another excellent party, and I was really pleased with how the Nordic parties turned out over the course of the con.

Australia in 2010: Popped in only briefly to have a look around. Got a nice sticker of a platypus in a spacesuit, and later Maltaran revealed that if you signed up as a pre-supporter you could get a stuffed animal (either a koala or a penguin).

South African: I can’t recall the convention or, really, anything much except they had excellent flag stickers and some nice buttons. In fact, now that I think of it, it could have been a Sunday party. But I think it was Saturday. Quieter than other parties, but a nice little occasion with interesting people.

Other parties were visited, but I’m afraid I can’t recall them, because for personal interest and fun the Brotherhood without Banners bash blew them out of the water (“Bravo! Bravo, the alliteration!”). All the Bros were there, mead was served (tried it out of historical interest, brain briefly froze up as it tried to process data, handed it to Linda), as were various other drinks (including a Brazilian rum concoction, a sip of which nearly killed me—I’m sorry, rum is one of those liquors that confirms that I’m right not to drink [and no, Teresa, it’s not because you made it wrong, I’m sure; I’ve just found rum to be nasty]). A ginger bread castle, layed out like Castle Black, was quite a popular item to look at and comment on (thanks, Phil!) It was really just terrific, as we chatted with all sorts of people (including Derfel from the board, who was great, and two boisterous and lovely Austrian fans we’d never met before, who seemed quite enthusiastic about meeting us and invited us to drop by their forum—which we will, we promise!) and finally got into the swing of things when we came to understand that it was not just all right, but a perfectly good idea to wander the party floor and the other parties when one felt the need.

Christophe—Joanna’s amazing friend who, she confided, had been (or still was?) part of a circus—performed some sleight-of-hand with a rope by those couches off to one side of the floor, which I took some (somewhat dark) video footage of; he was really good. Joanna herself appeared in a terrific frock, a reconstruction of a medieval gown from Uppsala in Sweden, which Linda was quite taken with and they quickly fell to talking about historical matters and their respective educations. Have a nice picture of the both of them somewhere in the gallery. You meet the most interesting people at a con, I think, and they were two of the highlights among people I hadn’t had at least a passing acquaintance with from the board. Also had a chance to talk to John J. Miller, writer and friend of GRRM’s, who has recently turned in the newest Wild Cards novel. Spoke to him about Byron Preiss (RIP) and what that might mean for him professionally, as well as heard some cool inside-info regarding the forthcoming book and a not-so-cool scary story of losing a 400-odd pages manuscript and having to re-write it due to a virus that managed to get into his backups. He now e-mails work off to a computer elsewhere to try and avoid that one. And Jamie Sims was there, hanging out. Tom and I spoke with him about Internet security—Jamie is quite paranoid about something happening to his work in the same way as it happened to John’s—and various possible solutions to potential problems (get rid of IE; upload to FTP dumps or one of the new commercial data storage sites; etc.)

At some point, late in the evening, Linda and I got separated. George hadn’t arrived yet, so I figured I’d look in at the Chicago party, maybe grab another hotdog, but it turned out that ztem had followed me to have a chat, because we had hardly said more than two words up to then. I was very glad we did, because we had the most SFnal conversation I’d had during the entire conversation, discussing Ursula Le Guin’s works. When we all got back home (well, when I got back home, anyways) he reported that he recalled we spoke but was too drunk to recall just what was spoken of—doh! I’ll just say that he was very coherent and, while the discussion did careen a little, it was very good. But then we were interrupted by Kit (Zakalwe7) who informed me that Linda was looking for me, and that George had arrived. We went that way and, well, you can read about what happened here.

After the shock and pleasure wore off, the quest was announced, as intrepid Bros and partygoers were challenged to bring George a haggis so that they could be knighted by him as members of the newly-created order of the Knights of the Haggis. Individuals who were to take part in the trivia contest were told not to go on the quest, but most (not I) didn’t listen. Not that it mattered over much, as this was quite an easy quest, made easier by brilliant thinking on the part of Ser Barry (for example), who just ordered one up from the hotel kitchen (for various reasons, he had to assure them it was for show rather than eating, but I fear that this may not have held up at the end…) Half a dozen haggii (at least) were delivered to George within half an hour or so, and the trivia was basically delayed for an hour-odd as more people streamed in. Each new-made knight was greeted with a hearty “AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRR!”, led by kalbear, in what had become by that point a signature cry of our group. We certainly did better, at least in our view, than the space pirates of the previous night. Other groups would growl it back at us when we started, in a sort of ripple effect, but we were certainly the most boisterous.

Tried to take pictures of it all, but had a bad position; fortunately others were in better places for it. The best of all was when Padraig was named Prince of the BwB by George, for attending all four Worldcons since 2001. As his chains of office were put around his neck, the room shook with roars of, “DEVIL BUNNY! DEVIL BUNNY! DEVIL BUNNY!” It was insane.

Then off to trivia. SKD verified answers, kalbear kept time, and Linda and Cerys kept score. Long story short, it was the closest trivia contest ever, with daj and I being fairly well ahead of the rest of the pack (and Sir Rots being far behind—but he won points on style, with answers such as “some pirate in a tutu”). We ended with a tiebreaker after 42 questions of varying difficulty (some quite hard), which I botched (by one syllable), and I hope I lost graciously (certainly, he won graciously, offering to give me the prize—a valuable Meisha Merlin limited edition of A Game of Thrones—as he had one already while I did not). I think the result goes to show that it could have gone either way, and I’m happy with that—it’s good to have a peer. He did make some noise about not competing again, however, which I will disabuse him of should we both happen to be at the same con when a contest is in the offing.

Special props to Ser Barry, who came up at one point to let us know at about 3 AM that we were supposed to clear out of the party room. He really worked to make sure we all understood it (as we were in varying stages of drunkness or, as in the case of Linda and myself, sleep deprivation) and to get a solution. Things got moved to the party operations room to be picked up the next day. My jacket did disappear, which was bothersome, but we were reassured to check Ops the next day since two gentlemen had been seen looking around for the owner of a jacket that matched the description of my own (in fact, it later turned out that I should just have asked everyone who had congregated outside—they had thoughtfully gotten a hold of it.) Shared a cab with Luzifer’s Right Hand to Cairncross and stumbled to bed.

All in all, a very excellent day and evening, wrapping up as it did at 4 or 4:30 AM.  AAAAARRRRRRRRRRRR!

(Oh, and yeah—neither Linda nor I was knighted; nor, for that matter, was Zollo. And possibly others. Heh. But it was chaos, and I was happy to get to the trivia when we did, because much later and I wouldn’t have gotten as far as a tie-breaker. BTW, the trivia questions, both preliminary and final, are posted here.)

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