Convention crazy

It’s Liberty Con weekend, and while I’m not there, I’m also off-routine in a big way, and brain-dead again (possibly still).So, here’s the deal…

It’s convention story time. Let’s have favorite incidents you witnessed, heard about, think might be legends and so forth…

They might or might not find their way in to a con vampire book at some time in the future, but in the meantime they’re always fun to know about.



38 thoughts on “Convention crazy

  1. I rented a scooter for Liberty (it was waiting for me here). Liberty Con is scattered across a huge expanse of buildings, beautiful gardens, and permanently parked railroad cars (most of which are guest rooms). See ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ for details.

    The scooter has been a Godsend. But the button marked ‘horn’ emits a beep of about 1/4 the decibel level of my microwave as heard from another room. So I went to the gift shop and purchased every wooden ‘train toot’ whistle they had. I found the medium sized one perfect for making people look around with terror in their eyes, while not quite having them leave a puddle around their shoes. Followed by “Excuse me!” it works wonders.

    Then the rains started. Back to the gift shop for a “poncho” that is, essentially a white garbage bag with a ‘hood’ and emblazoned with “Tennessee” (what *is* it about double letters in this place?). The poncho goes nicely over the steering column and the basket, while covering the bag that sits between my feet – and the neck hole just allows the controls to show. Perfect. (Only downside is that for the neck hole to work, the ‘Tennessee’s are all turned toward me, and white unadorned plastic shows to everybody else)

    In the dealers room, I purchased a nice ‘Kitteh-Dragon’-ish pair of grey fur ears on a silver colored headband.

    So, ears on head, tooting my ‘toot of imminent death’, I ride through the crowds on my rolling white garbage bag. Life is good 🙂

      1. Kate, it’s all absolutely true! Plus, after I posted this, I discovered (by following one John Ringo, who was wearing a kilt) that being in one of these things puts my eyes at about belt buckle level. And if I forego the toot of imminent death, I am essentially invisible.

        I can stealth-oggle *anybody* from behind. Bwahahahahahahahaha Now, I wonder what denomination coin I’d have to toss in front of some guy in a kilt that he could not resist bending over to pick up ……

        1. You’d probably get one of the wise guys who have boxers made in a matching tartan – no fun there. 🙂

          1. Oh, I don’t know… I suspect the character that’s now going to make drive-by appearances in the con vampire books will get all sorts of different views… The boxers in matching tartan, tighty-whities, regimental, and everything else imaginable.

        2. You do realize that the stealth-ogler who “accidentally” drops things in front of kilted males is now a con book character.

          1. Can’t wait to read it 🙂 But, the stealth ogler can’t be the one to *drop* – has to roll from behind to land in front while *I* – erm – the stealth ogler – is still back there behind. Hmmm…. needs a confederate …. the “ogle enabler” who does the dropping… ::giggle:: My kids have just been assigned a job! 😀

            1. Or use the shuffleboard cue. Just slide it out there, soft and easy, and let the money go slipsliding in front of the unsuspecting guy-with-kilt. I’m sure no one will notice the shuffleboard cue. Just explain that your lance is in the shop this week, so you’re using the cue instead.

          2. Nasty thought while showering:

            Kiltdar: The power that allows a stealth ogler to identify and sneak up behind any male in a kilt. (The similarity to a John Ringo series MC is purely a feature ::Wicked Evil Grin:: )

          3. Not quite the same, but I had a friend who named her teddy bear “Naked”, so that when she was in the hospital, she could “accidentally” drop it on the floor in front of cute doctors or interns and ask, “Would you get Naked for me?”

        3. Update: The smallest elevator in the Western Hemisphere is here. I was waiting for it and *Ringo* walked up. Me: “You’re not wearing your kilt today.” Ringo: “Not today”. And then he got *on* the elevator *with me* and Tom — *after* I had posted a truncated version of “following John Ringo around, staring at his tush” and, like a fool, having *tagged* him. I hope he hasn’t looked at his facebook page. However, I cowered against Tom and hid my face the whole time. Blushing like a mad woman. ::sigh::

          1. The stealth ogler got a bit more than she bargained for, hmm? (Yes, I am grinning like a loon).

            1. The elevator was so small, the scooter only fit in at an angle. So, I’m on a scooter. My hair is so long it’s past my butt. I’m wearing gray ears. And I’m pretending that if I can’t see Ringo, he can’t see me – by burying my face in Tom’s belly because we’re all squished together. As though there are several dozen people rolling around the Con with long hair and ears…
              I was afraid I’d *die* of terminal blush.

  2. My beloved husband got to go to a convention for the Air Force, recruiting.

    He got innumerable complements on his “costume.” ^.^

    1. Heh… Sounds about right 🙂

      One of my treasured con memories isn’t really a “story” so much as something I’ll keep in memory for the warm fuzzy value: sitting in the lobby next to where Terry Pratchett was talking with his US agent.

      Just being able to sit in the next chair for a couple of hours. I didn’t need to talk to him. I was there.

        1. “his US agent” as in the literary variety. I have no idea if said literary agent also belongs to one of the three letter agencies.

  3. Most of my Con experience has been with a giant game convention, Gen Con. 4 days and 30K people playing boardgames, miniature games, card games, etc (computer games are shoved off in one tiny corner), Concerts, Movie and Anime Rooms, and diverse seminar and workshop tracks including a 4 day long multi tracked Writers/Publishing series with such folks as Mike Stackpole leading it. I’ve been going for 2 decades now and have a few interesting stories from it.

    In the late 90’s Milwaukee built a new convention center to replace the old decrepit center and it had a few interesting features. In one corner of the place was a 2 story long escalator that had a big button labeled “Press for Polka!”. Pressing the button did in fact start rousing Polka music as you took the slow ride up to what turned out to be an octagonal room that lead nowhere! Ok, Ok, about 5 years later the hotel across the street finally put in the pedestrian bridge the Polka Escalator to Nowhere had been built for but it was still an odd ride.

    1. That should have been a LARP destination at some point. If it wasn’t, it will be in a con vampire book. And probably end up holding a body.

  4. At the same new building the Convention Center put in a lot of art pieces around inside and outside as part of the building’s design. The statue standing right next to the main entrance caused a lot of problems at first. You see it was a life sized, super realistic statue of a grumpy older security guard dressed up in the same uniform as the ones the real guards wore. It’s so lifelike that even 10 years later the local paper is reporting folks keep trying to talk to it thinking its a real person even though they put a rope barrier around it to keep folks from touching it. Evidently one night someone brought the “guard” along for a crawl of the local Milwaukee bars but he made it back to his post by the next morning.

    1. I love it! I can just imagine what a well-lubricated convention crowd would do with that…

  5. Another GenCon story is a tradition got started by a bunch of bored gamers in 1999. That year there were a number of different collectible card game starter decks given away in the Swag Bags each attendee received. The bored gamers were waiting for some friends to finish up their game and were lounging at some unused tables at the back of one of the banquet halls. One of them pulled out these card games they had no interest in playing and started building card towers and buildings. When they got up they left a sign saying folks could add to it if they wished but please don’t destroy it. Others soon started adding on and the towers got taller, bridges, roadways, and all sorts of things started getting built as the card city started sprawling over the area as the hours and days went by. Folks started naming the various suburbs in the city and one was named Cardhalla a name that became associated with the whole thing.

    The next year the convention made it an official “event” and roped of a section of the main hallway for the construction and each year it keeps getting bigger as folks work on it 24 hours a day for the whole 4 days of the Con. I would say the card city of donated cards has gotten to be about 10+ feet wide by 50+ feet long, and the highest towers are known to reach over 10 feet high. All done with just folded playing card type cards, no glue or tape allowed.

    It has also become a charity event where a crowd of hundreds shows up at a specified time the last day of the convention with pockets full of change to destroy the giant city in a shower of money. Afterwards volunteers clean up the card mess, sort out the change (and a few bills) and the proceeds go to charity, usually over a thousand dollars in change plus auctioning off the rights for the 1st throw.

    You can find some nice videos of Cardhalla, its construction and destruction online with a quick search. Its amazing how much it takes to knock over some of the better constructed edifices!

  6. A story told to me by a friend about a convention he went to out west a few years ago.

    It was a fairly normal SF/Fantasy convention with both readers/authors tracks and a fairly big LARP track. That year the LARP was a Werewolf vs Vampire vs human hunters game and evidently the hunters were NOT having a good go at it even on Friday. Friday evening some of the players were going around the main areas of the con doing their LARP when they saw a somewhat older women in a GREAT nun costume complete with Habit, Rosary, the works! and had some fun reacting to her in character. She was _completely_ confused though and they quickly figured out she was NOT playing the game with them. They got to talking and found out it was NOT a costume, she really was a Nun! She had been a closet SF/Fantasy reader for years and had finally decided to try out a convention when one was in town.

    The Nun was intrigued by their description of the game and came back the next day and officially joined in. She was soon running around chasing the Vamps and Were’s with her squirt gun full of “holy water” and large silver cross. The entire plot of the 3 day game went out the window as it dissolved into “Run From The Nun!” and was declared one of the best games they had ever put on. 🙂

    1. With that story, you just earned yourself a free copy of ConSensual. I am SO using this for one of the books… Of course, the holy water will actually BE holy water, with… interesting results.

      Thank you!

      1. Its one of my favorite Con Stories even if I got it 2nd hand. 😎

        My wife already won a copy of ConSenual from you in a previous contest. If you contact me via email I can get you in touch with the friend that was at that Con for more details and you can give him the ebook.

  7. Well, during my first Con (BuboniCon), I accidently walked into a heated argument over the prowess and firepower of the Federation vs. the Empire vs. the Royal Manticorian Navy. The discussion went way over my head about the time that some of the guys and gals started pulling up ship spec sheets on their laptops and tablets.

  8. I was actually thinking of your stories when this happened to me Friday night… Preface is that I bought a dress to wear to the con. I wanted a red sundress and couldn’t find one locally, the fashion colors seem to be not red but blaze orange this season. Bleah. So I ordered one online, crossing my fingers it would fit. It fit, all right…

    I wore the dress for the first time Friday night, and I was so glad I had an escort. I was in no danger of falling out, but I’m sure onlookers didn’t know that. In Barfly Central (the end of the consuite bar with booze in it) that evening I was accosted by Buz Osburn and he booms “You in the red dress, you have to come shimmy for Shane!”

    Now, I don’t think he knew I know Shane from online, so I smile and get up and go with him to the bar. I’ve been wanting to say hello anyway. We get over and Buz pushes me up and says “Shane, this girl is gonna shimmy for you!”

    I smiled at Shane and held out my hand “It’s so good to finally meet you.” He took my hand in both of his and never losing eye contact, which had to have been difficult given that the bar is sunken and my, erm, exposed assets, were at eye level, told me how good it was to meet me. I turned to Buz and said “And you, you’re a dirty old man!” He started laughing so hard he couldn’t speak.

    And that’s why I know that Shane is a perfect gentleman.

  9. A story of Con Culture Clash. About a decade ago GenCon, the 30K person gaming convention, moved from Milwaukee to Indianapolis IN. We had outgrown the convention and hotel space in Milwaukee even with the new expanded convention center of the Polka Escalator to Nowhere and the fake security guard. Indy’s convention center was much bigger and there were about 4 times as many hotel rooms within 2 blocks and a TON more restaurant options nearby. At the time the Colts had their American Football games held in the RCA Dome which was literally built into one corner of the convention center, there were conference rooms under the stands. They have since built a new stadium 2 blocks away and tore down the dome for more convention space, only expanded the center by about a third…

    Anyways the first year GenCon was in Indy there was a bit of a scheduling snafu that no one had thought about. The convention was held the same weekend as the 1st per-season Colts game in the RCA dome. On Saturday Night, the same night as the Costume Contest. So you have thousands of crazy Football JOCKS trying to share the streets with thousands of Gamer GEEKS with many of both sides dressed up in costumes. Luckily there weren’t any riots though I saw a lot of weird looks from both sides and some pithy comments. 🙂

    The Parking nightmares of having both events at the same time were bad enough but the hotel situation was MUCH worse. The team coming into town to play the Colts had called up their normal hotel a couple months out to make their reservations right there, across the street from the convention center and stadium and found out it was booked solid. In fact ALL the downtown hotels were booked solid. The GenCon attendees had booked EVERY room in about 24 hours back in February! when the GenCon hotel registration system went live (and promptly crashed a lot). The Football players ended up staying way out by the airport 30 min away in not nearly as nice as a hotel.

    They have NEVER made the mistake of scheduling the GenCon on the same weekend as a Home Game again. 😎

  10. Here’s one that I’ve about decided I must have dreamed, since I can’t seem to find anyone else who remembers it. I haven’t been to many cons. I think this was at the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, which wikipedia says was 1976. Might be.

    What I remember is that a soon to be famous name — maybe Harlan Ellison? — set up a plastic tent in the lobby of the convention, with a table, chair, and typewriter on the table. And promised to write a new short story while we watched! Indeed, he pounded away at a typewriter, and pasted pages up on the plastic from time to time. According to the rumors, a publisher bought it based on reading the pages on the plastic, too!

    Now, the thing that always bothered me — the author would pause every now and then, and haul out this scruffy, well-worn lab notebook. Leaf through it, read a bit, scratch their head, and then stuff the notebook back away, and start writing again.

    I never did find out what was in that notebook. Outline? Character sketches? Jokes? I always wondered about that.

    Writing in public! WOW! And no one told him to wash his hands afterwards.

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