My Balticon 44 (2010) Wrapup, Part 1

I have a bad habit of starting chronological convention wrapups, being too detailed and burning out before I finish. Instead, I’m going to recap this year’s Balticon anecdote by anecdote. I will feel no compunction to do it in any particular order or in any number of posts. I’ll write until I feel done and hit publish, then lather rinse and repeat.

Overview: This year definitelly felt smaller and less crowded overall. There seemed to be fewer big literary guests and a lot of groups that had hallway tables in previous years weren’t there this year. I saw a few tweets from people that seemed bummed by this year. However, from my experience of mostly participating on the new media track with some forays into broader fandom at times, I thought it was even more fun than last year. I did a few things differently. I ended up not even deploying my promotional stuff. I didn’t stress about keeping stickers and flyers stocked around the con. Instead I focused on really rocking the three panels I was on, seeing friends and having fun.

One of the rules I set for myself was to not repeat meal partners anytime during the weekend. If I were invited to dinner and I had already dined with anyone in that group, I had to pass. It worked quite well and I avoided the comfort zone of locking in with a few people and socializing only with that small group. I like it so much I think that will become my standard con MO from here on out. I also made a point of trying to talk to as many people as possible and being open to as broad a set of shenanigans as possible. That worked out pretty well for me and I’ll get to some of those anecdotes later.

Saturday night: Viv Schubert organized a “nerd prom” that was held in one of the programming rooms. I helped set up some of it after being a spontaneous guitar tech (that will be its own anecdote later.) Kevin Crosby and I ran cables and secured bits of Tee Morris‘ DJ setup at the head of the room. When things were in hand there, I went up to my room and changed in to my costume. Anyone familiar with me or this blog knows I have one and only costume to wear at SF conventions. It was my “SeƱor Muerte” costume consisting of the luchadore mask I bought in Portland OR and the tights and wrestling boots bought for me by my wife, ring ready gear mind you. When the voting came time, all the participants in the nerd prom costume contest lined up into a gauntlet or catwalk where we all walked down and back to show off our costumes. Mine was the very last name called (only the character, I didn’t know we were supposed to put real names on there.) As I walked to the head of the room, about one second before I got there I hatched a plan to do my catwalk in a combination of a stomp and a monkey walk. I did a jump at each end and returned to my place.

In one of the odder moments of an odd night, a guy who was already wearing a wrestler costume that included a kid’s prop WWE belt. This guy, who I didn’t know and never got his name, gave me that belt to become part of my costume. “I’ve got 9 more at home, you should have this.” Thank you, dude who I don’t know. I heard later he was trying to hand it to me during my walk but I hope I’m giving away no secrets if I tell you “Mexican wrestler masks are the mortal enemy of peripheral vision.” This prop belt had no fastening hardware but I remembered from setting up the room where the duct tape was, and Phillipa Ballantine was kind enough to tape it to me. I am pretty sure that I’m the only person in that room whose costume became more ornate and more complete as I attended the party.

After about 10 minutes, they announced the winners in a few categories. I had a joke about the voting being rigged ready to go when they announced “Prom King” and it was me. At that point, I knew for a fact it had to be corrupt but it was in my favor so I kept my mouth shut. I joined the Prom Queen, Helen “Cynical Woman” Madden at the front of the room. We put on our sashes, tried to put on the crown and tiara but both were already wearing headgear that precluded it so we had to do the best we could. It was a completely insane amount of fun. I wore my “Prom King” sash all the rest of that night, and all day the next day. In order to make it the maximally Andy Kaufman-esque street theater I refused to explain the origin of the sash to anyone that needed to ask. The rest of that night involved having many conversations with many people, which was a complete blast. I also got kicked out of the hotel bar, in a full luchadore outfit, for carrying in a cup to talk to people. In retrospect, I should have taken the bar manager and put him into the atomic piledriver.

That’s all I can take for tonight. Many more tales of shenanigans later.