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13 April 2009 @ 07:42 am
Home from Norwescon  
Home is where you don't have to try to hide the fact that you can't remember the name of the person whom you're telling it's so great to see after so long.

Norwescons are surreal for me. I was the second person to ever have a membership to a Norwescon. I was not only present at this convention's birth, I shared in both the delivery and labor pains. But I left over 30 years ago. There were over 3000 people there this year, and I saw perhaps a dozen that I know. Glancing over the Friday afternoon schedule, I saw "What is Goth?", "Male Goth Fashions," "Goth Fashion on a Budget," and "BDSM 101." This started out as a literary science fiction convention. I would bet that over half of the attendees now have not read one book in the past year (except reading required for school). Our first Guest of Honor was Theodore Sturgeon. The GoH this year was R.A. Salvatore.

Okay, obviously, I'm getting old. In fact, I've already gotten there. But not everything can be blamed on that. This was Norwescon 32, and yet the registration process was slower and less efficient than I have seen anywhere in a very, very long time. And the names were printed on the badges in a small font, making them totally useless as a means of identifying with whom you're talking. Classic problems and mistakes that shouldn't happen at such a seasoned convention.

Not all of the Norwescons have been held in that same hotel, but most of them have been. But they still haven't solved the parking problem. A room at the Doubletree is supposed to include free parking for one car. I drove around the property for over 30 minutes Friday evening and never found one open, legal parking place. And the first time I tried the valet parking, they told me it was full.

But what the heck. I'm not sorry I went. I was really impressed with the art show, and it seemed the halls were continually filled with people in wonderful costumes. I found Steve Bard, another very early NWSFS member, and we talked for quite a while. Also ran into Michael Dann on Saturday night, who had news on friends I had not heard from for many, many years. I got some very useful information about the North American Discworld Convention from Mike Wilmoth, and had a lovely meal at Thirteen Coins with a group that included Dave Clark, Dave Galliher, and Spring. It was fun chatting with Kevin Standlee and Lisa at the San Jose Westercon in 2011 party, and Ruth and John (Lorentz) ran a Reno in 2011 party with some delicious food.

I drank too much, ate too much, and didn't get nearly enough sleep, so overall it must have been a good convention.
Current Location: Happily home.
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Kevin Standlee: Kevin and Lisakevin_standlee on April 13th, 2009 12:56 pm (UTC)
Parking at that hotel is quite awful, and I don't think it's possible to fix it. The convention is simply too large for the space, given that it's probably >90% people-who-drive. My wife (Lisa Hayes) says she must get there on Thursday afternoon in order to get a parking space, and then she dare not move the vehicle, save possibly at 3 AM when there might be three or four empty spaces from the people who commute to the convention. Several times while cutting across the parking lot from the Outer Reaches of wing 5B to the main building, I was shadowed by vehicles hoping that I was on my way to my car to leave.

It was nice to see you as well. Like you, I do sometimes get that feeling of disassociation with the convention. I also wondered about the badges. I've concluded that some of it is generational, and that many people actively think of the badges mostly as a ticket-to-admit. I've ranted about that many times in other places, so I'll spare you another round of it.

NWC Programming & Events were very nice and cooperative with me, so I feel guilty criticizing anything. Every program room had a clock on the back wall, which is an excellent thing that more conventions should do. But they did not give program participants their schedule on badge-back stickers. (I mentioned this to their program director, who said she'd never heard of the idea, and that she doesn't really do any other conventions other than NWC, but that others had mentioned it to her as well, and it's a good one that she'll look in to using in the future.)

One thing Norwescon seems to have is a lot of the energy that I remember from my first conventions twenty years ago, much of which has sort of faded away from a lot of the cons I've attended lately. I was really surprised, because I'd concluded that most of the energy had shifted to anime fandom, and that they were all at SakuraCon. But clearly I'm wrong. I was on a very enjoyable panel (alas, I had to leave early to help set up the party) about "What is Fandom," where in the audience was a younger person who had been at SakuraCon the previous day but was also attending Norwescon because she enjoyed it, too. That's good.

Norwescon is doing some things right, and bucking the "Fandom is getting older all the time, we're all doomed" trend. Mind you, people have been telling me about the imminent Death of Fandom ever since my first con in 1984....