Monday, July 31, 2006

Guest Starring: Tony Frazier

Conestoga's over. It was my first convention as an invited guest, and I had a blast.

Cons are weird animals, because the first day is all sort of set-up and prelude. There are a few activities, but it's mainly just opening ceremonies and a couple of practice panels, followed by parties. This con was weird, because although I went to a couple of parties, I did not drink at all Friday night, and only a little Saturday. Saturdays, everything gets into full-swing, day and night. Sundays, everybody's exhausted and (for some) hung over, and the con is ending soon, so everything feels low-key and brittle. And then you go home.

Friday, I got to the hotel about an hour before registration was due to open because of a childcare snafu. Walked into QT to get breakfast and ran into K.D. Wentworth, who said, "They need help setting up the art show." So I got "Hey, you"'d into service before the con actually started. After I'd helped them hang up some art, I went to registration to check in and ran into Paula Goodlett, assistant editor at Baen's Universe. I've corresponded with Paula via email quite a lot, but had never met her in person, so that was cool. As it turned out, I saw a lot of Paula over the weekend.

My first panel was "The Year in Movies." I thought it was weird that I ended up on that instead of "Year in Television," since I work in TV but rarely go to movies anymore. However, it turns out that most of the TV panel was spent talking about shows I don't watch, and I actually got in some good comments on the movie panel, so it turned out okay.

Saturday was full. I had a New Writers panel, where I sat next to K. Hutson Price, whom I had also sat next to on the Movie panel. Turns out she's a former 98G Voice Interceptor Linguist (only Russian instead of Korean). Small world. She was a lot of fun, but we didn't get to talk much, because it was such a busy day.

Later I had a panel about anime. I mentioned a while back that I needed to study up for this one. Well, as it turns out, I didn't do it, but I think it turned out well. It's been a long time since I've had an opportunity to flip that switch and go into onstage mode, but I think I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and the audience seemed interested. I had planned to get something signed by the Guest of Honor, David Drake, but I never did dig the books out of storage, so that opportunity passed. I did get Black/on/Black signed by K.D. Wentworth, though, which was cool.

The con was at a hotel which was way out on the east side of town, just a mile from the only Korean restaurant in Tulsa. I rarely eat there, because it's so far out of the way and I'm hardly ever out that far. So Saturday, I took advantage of the proximity and went there. I had the buffet, which was ok, but I wish I had ordered from the menu. One funny thing: the sneeze shield had little signs to identify which food was which. I grabbed some stuff identified as "Chicken Teriyaki" even though it was stir-fry in some red sauce. As I was eating later, I noticed a tentacle in my "Chicken Teriyaki," so I'm pretty sure it was mislabeled, unless they were using, like, Elder God chickens or something.

After lunch, I went back to the hotel and realized that I'd just had a spicy kimchi-laden lunch just minutes before I was supposed to sit on a panel with the Guest of Honor, so I jumped into the Green Room and drank a bottle of water in about 2 minutes to try to wash away some of the residues. Of course, once I got to the Baen's Universe panel, David Drake sat right next to me. I hope I didn't smell too awful. The panel was pretty good, but I fear I babbled.

My reading was opposite the Yard Dog Press Travelling Road Show, which means no one was there. Lee Killough was the only person in the audience. I bummed around, watched bits of panels featuring my friends, and then went up to the film room to see a short film by Frank Wu. Frank is a hyperactive dude, very enthusiastic, who is a former Illustrators of the Future winner and who is featured in the first DaiKaiju! anthology. He has turned his DaiKaiju! story into an animated film, which is pretty hilarious. I got a free "Guidolon, the Giant Space Chicken" T-Shirt from him.

At 6:30, the Universe folks met in the lobby to go to dinner. We ended up having one person too many to fit on the vehicles provided, so I offered to follow in my car. William Ledbetter, another Universe author, rode along with me. We were going to a restaurant I'd never been to before.

I got lost. Called The Wife for directions, but she didn't answer her phone. Bill called his wife to see if she could pull directions off the internet, but she did not answer either. I ended up calling the Master Control room at the station to ask them to check the address for me. Dinner was good, but expensive, and the portions were huge, which caused me some later distress after my spicy Korean lunch.

We had a Universe party in the hotel after dinner, which was sparsely attended, but fun. I drank a little (thanks for the beer, Matt), but went home a little after one in the morning. I missed the masquerade and play, which means I also missed the announcement that I had won second place in the Bad Metaphor contest. My winning entry (as well as I can remember):

Her eyes clouded over with a troubled expression, like the coating of dust on a car in a Wal-Mart parking lot; he wanted to take his finger and write "Wash Me" on her eyeball.

Even though I hardly drank at all, I had a raging headache all the next day. I had no activities scheduled for myself except a signing. I broke out some old copies of Blue Falcon, just to have something to sign, but didn't sell any. I mostly watched panels by my friends, then attended the closing ceremonies.

Later that evening, I went to the Dead Dog dinner at Johnnie's. David Drake and James Hogan were there, which surprised me, but I was still all with the headache, so I wasn't as social as I might have been otherwise. Then again, everybody was tired, so maybe they didn't care.

Anyway, it was fun, and I even took some pictures, but they didn't turn out very well. I was having flash problems. The pictures where I didn't use the flash are blurry because of the long exposure time. The pictures with flash have little blobs of light all over them. I think my lens is dirty.

So there were some problems, but overall, it was a great time.

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