Baycon

For once I started out for BayCon early, sensibly packed and even having gotten a little sleep after a week of late nights getting artwork and costumes ready.

Before the con began, the inestimable Mr. Price and I had met at our usual conspiratorial base of operations — Baghdad Café on Market Street — in order to plot our weekend and fortify ourselves with coffee and pie. Originally we had thought to head down to San Mateo to drop off my art, but since it turned out I had no forms and couldn’t find a place to print them off the website, there was really no reason to rush down after all. I decided that sleep, last-minute costume touchups, and zombies where of a greater importance than seeing the new hotel, and so we watched 28 Weeks Later and then while he crashed on my living room couch I spent a couple of hours on belated tasks before doing the final crazed, tired, last-minute shoving of extra things into my suitcase.

At 7:00 a.m., per request, I walked my not-a-morning-person ass over and (gently) kicked the couch. JP requested another thirty minutes and, torn between sleepy gratitude and sleep-deprived murderous rage, I decided to let him live and I hit the sack for another 45 minutes.

Eventually the siren song of coffee lured us out to West Portal for a leisurely breakfast and last-minute shopping, after which we hit the road. As we put distance between us and San Francisco it got progressively sunnier and lovelier, until having left in Fall we arrived in full blown Summer, with gorgeous blue skies overhead, but more temperate than the usual May heat in San Jose. The hotel turned out to be a pleasant Mediterranean-style building with a small suburban mall within walking distance, also a nice change from the late lamented (until SiliCon) Doubletree.

The suite was a cute little two-room with a French door-style divider. I put dibs on the pullout sofa nearer the door, knowing my con sleeping habits, and immediately filled the tiny closet with shoes. Before unpacking any further I got the art checked in and hanging and registration out of the way, leaving me with no obligations of any type until the SF/SF staff meeting on Sunday afternoon.

After a quick look through the membership packet I discovered to my dismay that it did not include the traditional pocket program. Reg didn’t have any either, and the information desk was empty when I dropped by, but eventually I snagged one from ConOps, which was conveniently located on the way to my room.

Finally done with all my obligations until Sunday I grabbed a table at the California Grill with Bill, Joe Price and Jean, who gave me my first ribbon of the con for SF/SF and a batch to pass out to others. Jean left to do some Regency dancing but eventually the Kopecs rolled into town and joined the table and we continued what was a rather comical meal with a sweet but evidently overwhelmed waitress. Over the next few days the Grill stepped up and rose to the challenge but on this occasion it was a bit like a Marx Brothers routine. But the food was delicious and the prices reasonable, and hey — I had no place to be… so everything worked out just fine. Eventually, full of food, coffee and information I decided to take a nap in preparation for the long evening and weekend ahead.

Once rested, I got tarted up for the HMS Sabre themed dance and met up with the gang. We went directly to see how the ballroom for this Marriott would stand up to scrutiny. The dance floor turned out to be reasonably large, but when we arrived the dance itself was not terribly well attended and featured some form of swing dancing, which was out for me. We wandered to the party floor through the Marriott Maze, passing by a handful of jumpin’ parties and ending up at the Browncoat’s BSG themed Frak party where all the action seemed to be. Unfortunately without a deck/balcony to spill out onto and provide flow-through even the most successful parties felt a little claustrophobic, so after chatting with all the lovely BayCon regulars it was time to wander back to the dance and see if the ballroom dancing portion had given way to the more spastic styles I prefer… but alas, the dance was already over and done with!

Crestfallen but still dolled up, we followed the hints and rumors of a LoEG pre-tasting of chipotle vodka through the halls but came up dry (ha!) again. Finally our diminishing but still merry gang holed up at Bill’s room to drink and discuss movie trivia for few more hours. And let me just thank BayCon for arranging internet access this year, because otherwise it would have come to blows… Paul Verhoeven indeed!

Saturday morning at BayCon can mean only one thing: buffet! Not being a Coffee Garden-hater, I was actually trepidatious at trying new hotel food. For my money the San Jose Doubletree has one of the better kitchens on the convention circuit. However as I approached the Grill and saw the whiteboard advertising an $8 breakfast buffet I was torn… on the one hand, what a deal!… on the other hand, what kind of buffet could I really expect for that price?… but on the gripping hand I was hung over, hungry and cheap — so what’s not to love? It turned out to be a very tasty spread, equal or superior to that of the Coffee Garden. And being able to sit outside in the patio by the fountain made it ever so much more decadent. Adding to the allure was the discovery that the hotel sound system was tuned to some satellite station that was truly excellent, playing uptempo trip-hop, turning a visit to the ladies’ room (where the acoustics were best) into its own little mini-danceclub experience.

By the time we were done with breakfast it was past noon and signup for wristbands to get into the space-limited Masquerade was long done… but being cynical about the length, organization and lines for BayCon Masquerades I figured that was just as well — I’d watch the replay afterwards. Later on I discovered that Kevin and Andy were the ones in charge and therefore, naturally, everything went smoothly and ran on time. Inconceivable!

On leaving the Grill, Deb and I walked smack dab into the Spartan Wine Festival, which was composed of Bill in his snazzy new Spartan warrior costume surrounded by, and serving chocolate, strawberries and wine to, a bevy of lovely ladies. Pictures were being taken and merriment was high when Flare came up and tapped Bill on the shoulder.

We all froze, expecting that this was the straw that was going to get us kicked out of the Marriott (although the display was thoroughly PG, it was right in front of the main door, so you never know); however, when Bill turned around Flare pointed at the flagpole-cum-spear which needed peace-bonding. He handed it over, demonstrating its bluntness, and as they puzzled over how to actually reduce it to a peace-bonded state, Bill resourcefully reached over and picked up one of the wine corks, pushing it down on the tip of the spear until it stuck. Flare then placed the official zip-tie of inoffensiveness and went on their way. I took pictures, Deb took a strawberry, and we went to check out the smallish but well-stocked Dealer’s Room, the larger and very nice Art Show, and finally outside to the BBQ seating area provided by the hotel, which had basic but edible fare. Although without naming names, I’ll suggest that chasing Corona with Starbucks latte is not the wisest of choices.

I had bits to complete for the Steampunk outfit, so I took off down the block to Rite Aid and Ross, and between the two they saved my costume (spray starch=love). However on the walk back I found myself increasingly dulled by the direct sunlight and lack of sleep, and with my needle sliding heavily towards cranky (ok, crankier) I decided it was definitely time for a snack and a nap. The snack took forever, but the restaurant management was very apologetic and comped the bill without my even asking, so that was OK. I staggered back to the room and was out like a light.

I awoke refreshed but late, and with work to do to get the costume finished: mostly ironing, polishing the brass (thanks again Rite Aid!) and tightening various nuts and bolts. Done and dressed I got to the dance and was happy to see it was much more promising this time around, with a lot more people in evidence and a satisfying amount of Steampunk themed costumes — corsets, top hats and goggles galore — as well as Masquerade entries roaming the halls: Mette and Bryan in their awesome Legend of Zelda costumes, Death’s granddaughter from Hogfather, the tenth Doctor, some gorgeous World War II uniforms, and any number of other folks looking marvelous.

The dancing was excellent, with Lunatic at the controls when we arrived, and the decorating committee had made a couple of dioramas with cogs and dials that were perfect for taking pictures in front of. After dancing, drinking and being extremely merry until the wee hours and having long ago left my purse and jacket to the mercy of fate and the kindness of friends, I staggered down to my room and woke my long-suffering roommate up to let me in.

Sunday I woke feeling a little fragile for some reason, but breakfast and fresh air in the patio helped cure what was ailing me and some more rocking tunes in Club Bathroom set me in the right mood for the last full day of the con. I was determined to hit some panels, but had already managed to miss the one I was most interested in: Fanzine in an Hour. So instead I took a bag of no-longer-wanted-clothes over to the first-ever BayCon Clothes Swap. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it turned out to be a great setup with hanging racks full of con gear, a small pile of shoes, and a table full of accessories. Having disposed of several shiny but rarely worn items I traded about half my tickets for cool new-to-me items and ran off clutching them to my breast before someone noticed that I had made out like a bandit. Swaps are definitely my new addiction.

I wandered a little, hitting the Dealer’s Room and Art Show again and then heading up to the fanzine lounge for our second annual SF/SF staff meeting — which I have to say was much drier than last year’s. However I did finally get to meet Eva, and then much abuse and information was hurled about until we adjourned to the Grill where it turned into more abuse and less information.

I took a traditional post-programming nap before the last evening of festivities, for this night I had resurrected and upgraded my old spacegirl outfit from BayCons past, in honor of the convention’s Silver Anniversary. So after thirty minutes ironing the cheep!-yet-shiny cape/train I tottered out in my silliest shoes yet and headed over to the dance, which was once again pretty rocking. As the evening wore on the music and DJ changed a few times, my personal favorite being DR Scott, a lovely gentleman who was happy to hear our requests and who played some fan favorites as well as just generally excellent tunes. I once again managed to abandon my purse to the fates and my friends (how awesome/patient are my friends anyway?) as I caroused about. Eventually I walked (boots in hand, no more staggering for me) with my contact lenses in a coffee cup back to my room after dawn, nodding dimly at vague blurs that may or may not have been people I knew. My long-suffering roommate let me in without even mentioning my purse, bless his heart. He knows to save up all the snark for the right occasion.

Having had the foresight to schedule a late checkout I showered and began wrangling my possessions into orderly piles for packing before heading over to the Art Show to pick up my giant pile of unsold art. (Minus one sold piece, though — so that’s nice.) They were quite busy dealing with the auction, though, so obviously it was time to hit the Grill one penultimate time. We occupied our usual patio table and our buffet plates quickly overflowed onto adjacent empty tables as we drank coffee until we’d cleared the place out.

I finally made it to a panel after all, an excellent panel as a matter of fact, by Philip and Kathe Gust about nontraditional fasteners in costuming, which was doubly interesting for me due to my recent experience with the Steampunk costume but also because I don’t really sew. Some items like scrapbook clamps I had figured out on my own, but many others where very clever and I soon had two pages of notes and a bunch of ideas.

As I wandered about saying bye to folks who were leaving I was surprised at how many people where still about. Eventually I ended up in the Grill’s patio again, with JP and Tadao this time, for more coffee and dessert, and we made the discovery that from the patio the Grill can slightly emulate the Coffee Garden, as folks who are trekking to and from the parking lot pass by. Afterwards we decided to stick it out until Dead Dog out of sheer stubbornness, which meant we didn’t leave the hotel until around 11:30 p.m., reportedly just minutes before they broke out the wine (and hookers and blackjack, presumably). But I was a meat Popsicle by this point anyway, so I guess that’s OK.

 

 

 

~España Sheriff

SF/SF Issue #46, June 14, 2007