Con report by Elaine

A VERY smiling Elaine, first on the left, during the add on day visiting Griffith Park 
(on Tuesday, she said: "My face is hurting from too much smiling...). 
With her, Pat, Chan, Joan and Helen. 
Who recognizes what scene from what episode was filmed at these tables?
(photo by Amy Hazzard)

This was my first con and I wanted to share some of my experiences, especially with those of you who may never yet have attended a con.  My advice to those who, like me, might have wondered if it’s really something you want to do:  Run – Don’t Walk – to the nearest registration form and sign-up for the 2008 con! 

I have never had a better time in my life.

I arrived in L.A. on Thursday afternoon.  My suitcases zipped off the plane and the hotel shuttle was waiting right outside the door.  It was a quick trip to the hotel and a quick check-in and then I headed for the elevator to meet my roomies – all of whom had already arrived.

As I was walking down the hall toward the room, someone walking toward me called out my name and engulfed me in a great big hug.  It was Sobi!  She quickly introduced me to my roommates – none of whom I had met in person before but all of whom I had corresponded with online.  Joan, Ginny and Susanne were all very warm and welcoming and we had a great time rooming together all weekend.  I know I enjoyed them very much. 

After chatting for a time, we went down to the lobby where we knew other con-goers were gathered and where Bubba was greeting people.  (If you don’t know about Bubba, I think there are pics in the photo album, aren’t there?)  I met Chan and Deb and Helen and Amy W.  and Helene and so many others and joined in the quilting bee (which went on throughout the weekend as far as I could tell).  Chan had made a beautiful quilt utilizing designs from past con T-shirts and everybody took a hand in finishing it off (my stitches were particularly tunnel-like – not sure that’s something to be proud of but it is what it is!).  It was a great ice-breaker.  You can’t be shy with people whom you’ve just accidentally stabbed with a needle!

Sheila appeared and there were big hugs for all the con virgins.  In fact, there were big hugs all around all weekend all the time (it’s a reason all by itself for going to a con). 

I got to meet J’Ecris briefly (she was coming from the beach, I think) and so, at last, I had a face to go with that name, as well.

Dinner in the hotel and then we went up for early registration.  Beautiful tote bags and the conzine and various other lovely items were distributed.  I haven’t read my ‘zine yet but it is sitting temptingly on my desk practically screaming “read me, read me.”

Sheila gave all the con virgins a lovely gift – THANK YOU, SHEILA! – and, after a bit of reconnoitering, my roommates and a couple others went back to our room for some more conversation and then a relatively early night since we were all tired.

I went to bed that night astonished that I had spent all afternoon and evening with relative strangers and had never once felt shy or alone or outside.  I thought, “Well, I’ve gotten to put faces to names and met some lovely people and that’s worth the price of admission.  If nothing else happens, I’m glad I came.” 

Little did I know. . . .

Part 2 – FRIDAY

Friday started with a very tasty breakfast on the terrace of the hotel’s conference floor and people were very busy greeting old friends and meeting new ones.  I got to meet Annik and Stace and Jan and Bruce and JoAnn and Nick and Jenn and Pat and Marilyn and many others.  After a leisurely breakfast, I went to look at the Dealers Room and was just astonished and impressed by the number of ‘zines and photographs and memorabilia and the beauty of the artwork.  I missed the Kazoo University class “Kazooing for Dummies” and I regret that.  I understand there was some excitement when Sobi was concerned that she couldn’t kazoo in English but it all was resolved once they gave her a kazoo that actually had the proper holes in it! 

The amazing Con committee held the opening ceremonies, welcoming everyone and giving us necessary information about certain activities and then we had a lunch break.

After the break. . .David Greenlee, our beloved Mouse!  And Wendy Pini of graphic novel fame!  There was a lovely lengthy panel and they were both very warm and friendly and informative and entertaining.  You can see the whole thing, I believe, on YouTube thanks to Debbie.  (Debbie, you can picture me jumping up and down with joy at finding I don’t have to worry that it will fade from my feeble memory over time.  What a gift you’ve given us.  Thank you.)

Eventually the panel came to an end and I went to see Lisa demonstrate the Vincent makeup.  Wow!  It’s really amazing.

I thought, “Well, I’ve gotten to see David Greenlee and Wendy Pini – and Vincent – or as close as I’ll ever come, and that’s certainly worth the price of admission.  If nothing else happens, I’m really glad I came.”

But then. . . .but then. . .after dinner. . .there was a costume parade.  Emceed by Myhr!  I got to see Myhr!  I’ve been reading about Myhr, you see, on various websites and past con reports and I still had no idea what to expect!  What a treat!  And there were costumes, tunnel and non-, of astonishing beauty and inventiveness:  togas and mermaids and an owl woman and a beautiful butterfly dress and tunnel togs and Bruce dressed as Father going Above. . .and I know I’m leaving somebody out and I’m sorry but I did tell you I have a feeble memory! 

Then there was the talent show!  Debbie sang a lovely filk and Suze sang some gorgous songs, Jackie danced and Rosemarie recited a beautiful poem and KG sang beautifully as well and my feeble memory has kicked in again and I can’t remember what else happened – except that I will never forget the Hokey Pokey as danced by the Chesapeake Bay Helpers culminating in Vincent (in a tutu) leading a conga line around the room doing the Locomotion. 

And I thought, “That alone is worth the price of admission.  If nothing else happens, I’m really, really glad I came.”

Then there was a short break before the slumber party – which was, and will remain, memorable for a classic game --  am I allowed to mention this here? Or is it reserved for the guttercoffeeshop?  Hmmm – oh, well, suffice it to say it involves pinning something on someone and results in a lot of fun and laughter. 

After that, some of us signed con cards and Helen and I moved Bubba (who had been startling me off and on all day by turning up unexpectedly) into a more prominent position at the registration table.

And I went to bed happy and absolutely certain that it had already gotten as good as it was going to get.

Shows what I know. . .

Part 3 – SATURDAY

After Thursday’s and Friday’s excitement, I figured Saturday would be anti-climactic.  So I went down to breakfast, sat out on the terrace and, lo and behold!  Someone I had not yet met sat down next to me and I found myself talking to Linda Campanelli!  And by now, I guess you know what I was thinking.  Yep.  That’s right:    “Well, that alone is worth the price of admission!  If nothing else happens, I’m really, really, really glad I came.”

But of course there was more. 

Neal’s and Jana’s BatB documentary, including two new segments, was shown and David and Wendy came back for more Q&A and were joined by James Avery, our Winslow, who was very funny.  That panel segued right into an artists’ panel with  artists Kevin Barnes, Wendy Pini, Jamie Murray showing slides of their work.  I had to duck out of that just a bit early so I could go the writers’ panel and hear Barbara Hambly, Geoff Thorne, Wendy Pini and Nick Thalasinos.

And soon it was time to dress for the banquet.  Everybody looked great in their banquet attire and there was much taking of pictures.  It started to feel a bit like a film premiere.  Roy Dotrice and his wife arrived (and he brought wine for the banquet!  How nice is that?!)

We all went into the banquet room and found our tables, all with lovely stained glass centerpieces of Vincent and Catherine by Chandler, and just beautifully set with lots of nice touches. 

Then. . .the lights went out.  And Father’s voice began in the darkness.

“The world above us is cold and gray. . . .”

One candle lit another and on and on until we each had a lit Winterfest candle and I had chills.

You know, that alone is worth the price of admission and, in that moment, I was really, really, really, really glad I was there.

But there was more!  Dinner was very good and after dinner there were video tributes to Edward Albert and others gone now from fandom, a promo video for 2008’s convention and music videos and others.  Those of you who saw them can imagine that I was really, really, really, really, really glad I was there for the videos.  Those of you who weren’t there, just take my word for it and remember what I said before – Run – Don’t Walk to the nearest registration form for 2008!

After dinner and the videos, it was time for the auction!  If the bidding was anything to go by, lots of money was raised for the con charities.  Yippee!  David Greenlee was an excellent auctioneer and it was really fun to be there.

What a night. . . and, yet. . . there’s more. . . .

Part 4 – SUNDAY

Sunday was a somewhat quieter day. The art auction continued to raise money for the charities and Jana’s presentation on the roots of the Beauty and the Beast story was fascinating. 

Off and on, I would see David Greenlee and wonder if I should talk to him but he was always fairly busy so I didn’t really want to approach him. Imagine my surprise and delight to find myself later on the terrace chatting with a small group and to suddenly have him come up and join us. We had quite a nice conversation. He’s a very sweet man and it was a joy to spend some time with him. (Altogether now – “well, that alone is worth the price of admission. I’m really, really, really, really, really, really glad I came!)

There was a presentation on next year’s con and the closing ceremonies wherein the candle is passed to next year’s organizing committee – or, in this case, ‘committees’ since there is a con in the UK in October. 

Was it Sunday night that we went to Dinah’s? Yes, I think it was. We basically took over the back room of a restaurant across the street from the hotel and had an excellent dinner. 

Later that evening there was a small gathering in Sobi’s and J’Ecris’s room and I wish I had a picture and could show you what I saw as I sat on one of the beds with 9 or 12 heads all lined up in front of me along the sides of the bed, in a triangle, its point culminating in a small laptop on which we were viewing gorgeous BatB art. That alone was worth the. . .oh, well, I’m sure you know what I mean. 

Eventually, it was off to bed to get ready for. . .the Add-On day!

Part 5 – MONDAY

The Add-On day was a bus trip to various sites used in filming BatB.  We saw Ren-Mar Studios and the location where Michael kissed Catherine in “A Fair and Perfect Knight.”  We saw Catherine’s apartment building (complete with Tunnel visitor) and other BatB sites I cannot remember at the moment.  We saw the Hollywood sign, of course, and we saw the giant crowds gathered for the young actors from Harry Potter to put their hand and feet (and wand) prints in the cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese. 

At Griffith Park, of course, we all made a beeline for the tunnel entrance.  Vincent was there to pose for pictures (thanks, Lisa, for enduring the heat to give us that treat!) and there was certainly no shortage of cameras.  I imagine it may be the single most photographed drainage tunnel in history! 

Lunch was a nice barbecue at the ranger station and then, after one more stop at the tunnel to see some of Chan’s artwork on the wall, we reboarded the bus and went to the carousel.  I love carousels!  And, of course, this one was doubly special because of it’s association with “Promises of Someday.”  There was time to ride it twice – and thank you, JoAnn, for the second ride!  We took lots of pictures there, too, and many of us purchased carousel souvenirs.  And then it was time to get back on the bus and go back to the hotel.

I couldn’t stop smiling.  Because the tunnels and the carousel alone were worth the price of admission and I was really, really, really, really, really, really, really glad I came.

That was the end of the official activities – but Tuesday the second season DVDs hit the stores (and promptly disappeared as con goers raced to get their copies).  My roommate Ginny’s son brought us our three copies – thanks Eric!  (and how lucky am I?  I’d ordered from Amazon and was regretting it because I wanted my copy then and there – only to find an email from Amazon that something had gone wrong and they’d canceled my order – so I got to hold my DVDs in my hot little hands right away!)

So, of course, there was episode watching in the hotel that evening as we celebrated the DVD release and C.P.’s birthday.  And we got to wave at Lynn on the webcam.

Wednesday started to get a little sad as people were leaving.  I hated to say goodbye to Joan, who left Tuesday, and Ginny and Susanne and Deb and Annik and Sobi.  And I never did get to say goodbye to J’e!  (You snuck out!)  And somehow I missed JoAnn – so virtual hugs to all I didn’t get to hug for real.  Fortunately, Rosemarie and C.P. moved in with me Wednesday night or I’d have been a basket case.  Thanks, ladies!  (Advice for newbies – don’t ever be the last one to leave.)  I spent a few days with a friend in L.A., which made a nice interim transition, and I got home Monday morning.

I went into the con with the goal of trying to meet everyone there – and I didn’t succeed, I know.  There just wasn’t time – but, to everyone I met and everyone I didn’t – thank you so much for being there, for keeping this alive all this time and for giving me such a wonderful, wonderful experience.

I’m REALLY glad I was there.

Elaine, July 2007