I'm definitely getting better at this "just say no" method of avoiding overcommitting myself at conventions. I've now achieved a pleasant balance of work and play twice in a row. Let's see if I can keep it up.
The worst problems for me at Lunacon this year were the personal annoyances I was dragging along: a lingering bronchial cough, being tired and headachey and medicated because of it, a strained ankle that left me limping painfully around, and the money-is-tight necessity of commuting back and forth from home, adding ninety minutes of driving to my days. My con was also curtailed early by my having a gig up here on Sunday afternoon, making going back to the con on Sunday morning impossible.
Despite all this, I had a good time.
I was so tired and in-pain and aggravated on Friday that I almost blew off bringing any of my chainmail for the half-table I'd reserved in the art show, but I pulled it together and packed some stuff up at the last minute. Checking that in was the first order of business when I arrived early Friday evening. I was delighted to be sandwiched between the cute fuzzy animals by Mary Aileen Buss and Scott Lefton's spectacular work. A bunch of old friends were working or hanging out in the art show, but after some pleasant conversation I dragged mysef away to get my badge and program material and do my panel on historical costuming. This was missing an audience, but all the panelists were old costumer friends so we had a lovely time catching up with each other for most of an hour before giving up and heading off to the Meet the Pros party.
I was disappointed to find out there that Guest of Honor Michael Flynn had damaged his back earlier in the week and would not be able to attend the convention after all. Mr. Flynn is the author of Eifelheim, a 2007 Hugo nominee and particular favorite of mine that manages to combine a serious and thoughtful approach to an old Poul Anderson premise (aliens land near a medieval village) with a modern-day historian doing what historians do, meaning what I do, meaning I had the unusual (for me) experience of pointing at pages and saying "Yes! That is my life right there!" Research!
The rest of my evening was spent socializing. I ran into a clutch of editors that included Neil Clarke (newly endowed with two pacemakers and a do-not-wand card for the TSA), Ian Randall Strock, and Doug Cohen, who was hawking his (co-edited) new Oz-themed anthology, Oz Reimagined, with an impressive list of contributors that includes Seanan McGuire, Ken Liu, Rachel Swirsky, Jane Yolen, and Orson Scott Card (!). We had an amusing Oz-geeky conversation (General Jinjur! Gillikins! The gold, silver, and bronze fish!) He promised that the Card story did not involve homophobic ranting or pedophilia, and I promised to find him on Saturday and buy a copy of the book. I ducked into the filking for a few songs (including one by Filk Guest Leslie Fish) then spent a little time with friends before heading home at midnight like Cinderella from the ball.
I should note here that after years of driving to this hotel (almost every year since 1992), I finally found out how incredibly convenient it is to use the Merritt Parkway instead of I-95. A couple of turns off the exit and a straight shot down one road brings you out right around the corner from the hotel. Amazing. Much easier than messing around on Westchester Ave. I took the Merritt back and forth all weekend. Why didn't I realize this years ago?
I wasn't exactly up at the crack of dawn Saturday, but I got myself to the con in good time to check in with a few friends, deliver some beautiful linen-generated white dryer lint to artist Heidi Hooper, and get myself changed for the Regency Ball. Note for future Lunacons: middle of the afternoon Saturday is an even worse time than Friday night for a ball. People wandered in and out, but we never had enough to get any dancing started. Quite a few people said later they hadn't even noticed the ball was Saturday afternoon (they had been looking for it Friday night), so possibly this was a matter of needing the change publicized loudly and often and in advance. That is likely part of the problem with Friday night, too, sigh. But I spent a pleasant couple of hours basically being at home to callers in the ballroom and got to catch up with still more people I rarely spend time with (Michael Cramer, Marvin Kaye, Terri Ash and Matthew Barr, etc.) and do a little quiet conspiring about various things.
My crafting panel (18th century thread buttons) later that afternoon turned out to be the best-attended item I did. I had an eager group of students including some very experienced costumers and needleworkers interested in learning the technique. Everything went very well, and people produced some lovely buttons. The craft room at Lunacon was buzzing every time I stuck my head in; definitely a successful experiment.
I was amused that the craft session after mine was tribble-making with Mary Aileen. Being next to Mary Aileen was the running theme of the weekend.
In my commuting flurry I managed to forget my bathing suit, so my clever plan to spend an hour in the hot tub failed. I wandered around for awhile and finally ran into Doug Cohen and bought the Oz anthology from him. He gave me some promo cards for it, which I distributed as I checked my stuff in the art show (no bids, which didn't surprise me). One of the art show staff wanted a copy too, so with her money in hand I headed back to where I'd last seen Doug, found him in the restaurant, and got a copy back to her. One of Doug's companions, David Walton, was also handing out swag (bookmarks) for his new novel, which sounded like it was right up my alley: sixteenth-century England, magic, and dissection. I said I'd try to swing by his reading later.
I finally washed up at a convenient conversation spot where Mary Aileen (her again!) caught up with me and we spent some time chatting before heading off together to watch the maquerade, MC'ed by Sandy Swank (me not being the MC was a major contributor to my having such a relaxing convention). It was small but had a good concentration of memorable costumes, including a monster made of entirely of balloons by Yitz Cohen, Laura Kovalcin and Abi Levinson in a mirror-dancing dark/light pair of costumes, and a rather good Iron Man who pulled off her mask to reveal herself to actually be an Iron Woman. That's her at left (click to enlarge); blame the hotel for the poor lighting. This is the only photo I took all weekend; I just wasn't in a shutterbug kind of mood.
I enjoyed the first three sections of movie trailers after the masquerade (anime, SF, and fantasy) but sneaked out during the horror segment; I don't do horror movies. So I headed off to David Walton's reading. The novel, Quintessence, turned out to be quite engaging, and I was inspired to buy a copy. This concluded my shopping for the weekend.
Winding down my convention, I checked out a few parties and after a bit of wandering settled into the Spokane in 2015 bid's little bash for the rest of my evening before heading home.
Some random notes:
This hotel just keeps getting uglier. Trying to graft a contemporary lobby and hideous carpeting onto colonial decor just doesn't work well. And the wall full of nearly-empty bookshelves with just a few artistically arranged volumes on each just looks sad. I wouldn't be surprised if the books weren't even real. This hotel was very much not-broken before they started fixing it. And renumbering the floors so the two sides match may be helpful to someone, but for those of us who know the hotel it's quite confusing to have the fifth floor suddenly be up instead of down from the fourth/second/ground floor, formerly known as the seventh floor. You have to be familiar with the Escher Hilton (as the Rye Town Hilton is fondly known to Lunacon attendees) for this to make any sense.
The biggest problem at Lunacon this year was lack of information. Program schedules and grids were late, which is very large part my fault for turning in the grid at the last minute. Not my fault were the very minimal amounts of information on the website (see comments about Regency ball above), which has just got to be improved, or that the list of program items was ordered in some non-obvious way (not alphabetical or by type of item), and was not graced by trivia such as times, rooms, item numbers, or any other method of determining when and where anything was short of reading through the entire list looking for things and then scanning the grid for matches. It was also missing participant names. This didn't help attendance at Friday panels in particular, but Lunacon attendees are a hearty and cheerful bunch (given Lunacon's various traumas over the years, they have to be) and seemed to take it in stride, albeit with a lot of very pointed commentary. I do not feel good about my role in this mess, especially since it detracted from a very good-quality program. I need to work on what I can do to help Lunacon in a way that fits better into my gig-driven freelance lifestyle.
A friend picked up my art from the art show Sunday, since I wasn't around, and apparently I sold a couple of pieces and even got a ribbon. I was completely floored to hear this; a ribbon? Me? I won't know the details until I catch up with her next week to pick up the remaining pieces and the ribbon. But clearly I should keep doing art shows!