Disclave 1996 Trip Report
24-27 May 1996


The Waiting is the Hardest Part

So I wake up bright and early Friday morning (which is unusual for me). Alex and David Honigsberg call me at just before 10am saying they're about to walk out the door. I call David Kogelman and tell him that Alex and David are about to walk out the door. And then I bring all my stuff downstairs -- this takes two trips, as I'm bringing an overnight bag, a bag of tapes for the car, my bongo stand (which is two very heavy metal things), the percussion bag, the bodhran, and the Eddy/Kogelman car seat (more on that in a bit).

Then I get a newspaper from Eddie at the newsstand next door (like I do every morning) and read it while I wait for Alex and David to show up.

And wait. And wait. And wait.

Just as I'm about to run upstairs and see if there are any messages from them (it being a good hour and a half after they said they were about to walk out the door), they show up. Specifically they drive right by the apartment, notice a parking spot in front of the apartment, and turn around. Since 100th Street is a one-way street, this action gives me heart failure. But it's all okay, they pull into the spot, we pack up the car, and we go get Kogelman and son.

(Digression: For the purposes of this report, David Honigsberg is "David," David Kogelman is "Kogelman." It makes my life easier.)

(Another Digression: Alex and David were late because, just as they were walking out the door, they knocked over some makeup, leaving gunk and broken glass all over the floor. Since they are cat-owners, leaving broken glass all over the apartment would not be such a hot idea, so they had to pause to clean it up.)

It turns out that the Kogelman/Eddy child, Ben, is a very well-behaved five-year-old. Kogelman and I had picked up the car seat from Claire Eddy (the boy's Mom) the night before and left it at my place to make things easier (since my place is larger). The car seat was attached, Ben was deposited in it, we all got into the car, and were off.

Both the trip down and trip back had a Honigsberg drive the first leg and me drive the second leg, the legs breaking (so to speak) at the New Jersey/Delaware border. Alex drove down the Turnpike, turning it over to me shortly before we entered the First State (which they proudly announce when you enter Delaware, giving the very date when they were the first to ratify the Constitution), while she went into the back seat and bonded with Ben over their mutual admiration for Zorak from Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

Naturally, I got all the traffic.

Overall, we had very little traffic problems, given what weekend it was, but all the traffic we did hit were going into toll plazas. All the toll plazas are from the end of the Jersey Turnpike downward. So I had to drive in all of it after Alex got clear sailing. Some Italians have all the luck....

After a few wrong turns in Washington -- not aided by the Byzantine design of the city itself -- we finally stumbled into the Hyatt at 5.30. Boy was we tired. Kogelman & Kid went off to wherever it was that Kogelman was staying for the weekend, and the three of us checked in. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant (not the best place in the universe, but boy did they have a good prime rib) with Pete Heck, Sherri Fillingham, Deborah Dovel, Dan Korn, his wife Rachel Silber, and Cary Abend; then David, Alex, Pete, and I had to prepare for the DQYDJP concert.


All Hail the Mighty Duct Tape!

Said preparation turned out to be way more complicated than one might imagine. We were promised a PA system, three mikes, and three boom stands. We had the first two, but no stands. And the PA system only had one type of input -- the opposite of the input for Alex's fiddle -- and no adapters. None of us brought any adapters because we'd never encountered so finicky a PA before.

While David and Alex tried to figure out how to plug Alex in (which they eventually managed to do by juryrigging David's amplifier), I went in search of mike stands. The hotel was no help -- apparently, whoever it was on the concom who was supposed to handle this forgot about the stands, and the company who handles this stuff for the hotel was closed for the day. I then went to every single function room, and came up with one mike stand -- not a boom mike stand, but it beat nothing at all. I used a box and three phone books piled on my percussion table to improvise a mike stand for myself, and Dan and Michael Nelson managed to make a third stand out of four bits of metal tubing and a whole lotta duct tape. (Chorus: All hail the mighty duct tape!)

Starting a mere fifteen minutes late (which is early by rock'n'roll standards), we kicked off with "Little Sister," as usual, then segued into "Pride & Joy" (our first time playing it in public, and boy did it kick butt). We added several new songs to the list, including a few David Honigsberg originals, and we did quite well. David's folks were in the crowd, as were The Usual Suspects, plus a few people we didn't know (always a treat). We were even listed as a "main attraction" of the convention (lucky us).

We started to run out of gas toward the end, what with the endless drive down followed by the stress of setup, punctuated by David forgetting 90% of the words to "Hotel California" (well, okay 75%...). We ended it with Pete leading us in "Zipadeedoodah," as ever, with me wandering into the audience to do the Bump with Laura Anne Gilman while playing the maracas.

The main flaw in the evening was the lack of flute accompaniment, since Eric Raymond didn't make it until ten minutes after the concert had ended. So no "Locomotive Breath." Still it was a good space (though we had more room on the stage than we really needed) with good acoustics, and room to both sit and dance, as the spirit moved the audience.

Afterward, we had a nice little celebration in our room in honor of Alex and David's fifteenth wedding anniversary. (They brought champagne and chocolate cake for the occasion, la-dee-dah.)

After a bit of party-hopping (a small bit -- the parties were sparse), I was off to bed.


Saturday Night's All Right for Drinking, but I'd Rather Do It in the Afternoon...

Bizarrely, I had no program items on Saturday, so I slept very late, wandered around the dealer's room, hung around at the consuite, gave a friend a backrub, bought an earring from Mitch Botwin and several buttons from Nancy Leibovitz, caught bits of Susan Shwartz's presentation on writing while having a day job, and occupied my time in various other vile and depraved ways until 4pm, when I was to meet Pierce Askegren.

I bought two short stories from Pierce, one each for The Ultimate Silver Surfer and The Ultimate Super-Villains, and he's also co-writing the "Doom's Day" trilogy of Spider-Man team-up novels for me. We also get along very well, and I was looking forward to meeting him.

I wasn't disappointed. We spent two hours in the bar drinking and exchanging stories (indeed, doing quite a bit of both), and generally having a wonderful time. Pierce is a great guy and, even if the rest of the weekend had been a washout, it would have been worth it to meet Pierce.

Then I went off to meet LAG, Pete, and their respective mates, Peter Liverakos and Jane Jewell, for dinner, once again at the hotel restaurant (and once again, the prime rib was consumed). An extremely pleasant meal, punctuated by the waiter neglecting to create a check for Peter.


All Hail Goob the Long!

We party-hopped briefly, then went down to the bar. The bar-group consisted of self, LAG, Peter, Josepha Sherman, Lucienne Diver, Jeanne Caggiano, Amy Goldschlager, Alex, David, Warren Lapine, and probably some others I'm forgetting. At one point LAG asked that -- since, despite her requesting it, the DQYDJPs didn't perform "Five Constipated Men" at the concert -- the song be performed right there in the bar. David & Alex obliged with a cappella rendition of the tune, to much giggling.

However, the highlight of this extremely goofy gathering came when some fan or other -- wearing, of all things, an H.R. Puffinstuff t-shirt -- walked by, saw me, and said, "Goob! How ya doin'!?"

I blinked. The guy looked at me again, then realized he was mistaken, and said, "Oh, I'm sorry! You look just like a friend of mine."

"I see the plastic surgery was a success, then," I deadpanned, which led to nervous laughter from Puffinstuff. Then he pootled off, and I promptly forgot about him.

That is, until a few minutes later, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see Puffinstuff and another guy, who stared at me, then turned back to Puffinstuff and said, "You're right, he looks just like him!" Then he explained: "You really do look just like this friend of ours, Goob."

"Goob," I repeated, dubious.

"Yeah. His real name's Paul Goobler, but everyone calls him Goob. Well, I didn't. I really liked him. He was the longest roommate I ever had."

This comment prompted Lucienne to snarf her cognac (which was a waste of perfectly good cognac, but never mind; it was also the second time she'd snarfed cognac that weekend -- then again, Lucienne is a snarf slut...).

I allowed as how that was more than I needed to know about this guy's relationship with his roommate, and everyone laughed, and eventually Puffinstuff and his friend moved off, leaving us to wonder once again at the joys of fandom. And, of course, to start referring to me as "Goob the Long." This prompted LAG and I to simultaneously declare that, if I ever joined the Society for Creative Anachronism, I had an SCA name already picked.

Eventually the wingding broke up. LAG announced that she wanted to be carried to her room, which prompted me to cry, "I'll grab her feet!" Soon several others were aiding me, and we began carrying her. Sadly, we only made it about four feet before we decided that this was a silly idea (her squirming didn't help), and so we draped her gracefully (well, we draped her, anyhow) over a chair.

I made another half-hearted attempt at party-hopping, which again lasted all of six seconds, then went to bed.


Shooting the Breeze with Goob the Long & Meerkat the Short

I had to get up at a semireasonable hour Sunday morning, as LAG and I were doing a kaffeeklatsch together at 11am -- or, as the concom called it, a "whazzit," since apparently no one on the Disclave concom could spell "kaffeeklatsch."

Prior to that, I went with LAG, Peter, Lucienne, Josepha, and Jeanne to the Fast Forward panel. FF is a Washington-area public access talk show on SF, very similar to The Chronic Rift, the show I was involved with for all four years of its halcyon existence on NYC public access. I wound up being shanghaied to be on the panel, since I had done this sort of thing for four years.

As soon as it was over, I dashed downstairs to the consuite for our whazzit/kaffeeklatsch. Billed as "Shooting the Breeze with Goob the Long and Meerkat the Short," we held forth to an audience of one (a sculptor named Paul Ican'trememberhislastname) for a half-hour before Jagi Lamplighter and her husband John were kind enough to show up, quickly followed by several others. Sadly, the thing was just getting seriously fun when the hour was up and we had to clear out for the next whazzit. But we accomplished our main goal, to wit, promoting the holy crap out of OtherWere.

We then went to the dealer's room, where a) we discovered that the bear puppet that LAG had been trying desperately to get me to buy had been sold and b) LAG fell completely in love with the cutest mantis puppet you ever wanted to see. She proceeded to scare the bejabbers out of Lucienne with it (Lucienne hates bugs), then purchase it.

At 1pm, I had a reading of my own, and I was thrilled -- especially given how poorly attended this Disclave was (a typical Disclave has from 1000-1500 people; this one had 600) -- to find a good-sized crowd. Jagi and John were there, as were Amy, Peter, and three people I didn't know. Cary wandered in at some point, too. This was especially gratifying, as Jack Chalker had cancelled his reading because nobody showed up -- and he's, like, a famous writer and everything!

Since I had a full hour (and no one in the room after me anyhow), I read two stories, "Improper Procedure" from The Ultimate Silver Surfer and "UNITed We Fall" from Doctor Who: Decalog 3: Consequences. It was my first time reading either of these, and they went over swimmingly. People laughed when they were supposed to laugh, and the Who fans in the audience (most of them, as it turned out) all said I nailed the Tom Baker Doctor and the Brigadier both perfectly, which was extremely gratifying.

I then proceeded to the bar, once again, where I was supposed to meet Pierce and Jason Henderson. Jason is the author of the novel The Iron Thane and the Highlander novel The Element of Fire, and is writing a Hulk novel for me. The intent was for Jason, Pierce, and I to talk about the Hulk novel (said novel also involves SAFE, an intelligence organization Pierce helped create for the "Doom's Day" trilogy), but that didn't happen very much. For one thing, when I mentioned to Josepha that I was meeting Jason Henderson, she said, "Hey, I discovered him!" Turns out she found The Iron Thane in the slush pile and proceeded to buy it for Baen; since she'd never met him, she accompanied me to the bar.

Susan Shwartz saw us, and joined the party, as did LAG & Peter, David & Alex, Pete, and a woman named Francine (whom I didn't know, but was a friend of both Susan and Josepha), and it rapidly became an amoeba gathering. We spent over three hours there, and had a great time. Pierce regaled us with tales of his drunken exploits in New Orleans. Jason came up with the name "Kermit" for the mantis puppet (he was thinking frog, but LAG was thinking character on Kung Fu: the Legend Continues; either way, it fits) and told us that the line in The Element of Fire that referred to Duncan MacLeod in a Turkish prison with Amanda was originally Duncan in a Turkish prison "with an Immortal named Edmund Blackadder," but they made him take it out.

At 6pm, I had my one panel: "Trash, Glorious Trash" with Rebecca Ore (author), Warren Lapine (Absolute Magnitude editor), Priscilla Olson (NESFA bigwig), and Dianne Weinstein (Worlds of Fantasy & Horror editor). We discussed the things we're embarrassed to admit we like; highlight was my doing a dramatic reading from The Women's Guide to Deflowering by the improbably named Hyacinthe Phypps, with illustrations by Edward Gorey (who else?). I read the passages "Deflowering by Proxy" and "Deflowering by Chinese Detective." We digressed repeatedly, which was just as well, as it wasn't much of a topic in the first place, and a good time was had by all.

LAG, Peter, Sherri, and I all met for dinner after that -- we decided to go off-campus this time, heading to a restaurant in Union Station. Once again, a very pleasant dinner.


An Evening of Low Stakes and High Hilarity

Then we gathered folks up for the poker game. One problem: no equipment.

The hotel gift shop had cards, but no chips. It being the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, few stores were open. Then Mike & Beth Zipser, bless their little hearts, had the brilliant idea of purchasing the pads of notepaper made up to look like currency. They had packs with singles, fives, and tens; we bought several, and used them for chips (fives were nickels, tens were dimes, singles were quarters). It worked quite nicely, actually.

A most excellent time was had by all. The game included me, David, Peter, LAG, Beth, Mike, and Jeri Freedman. After LAG won big with a straight flush (gotten on the last card in seven-card stud, no less), she bowed out, figuring there was no way she'd top that, and was replaced by Pete. Mike dropped out partway through, needing to put in an appearance at a party. The rest of us stayed to the bitter end -- three hours, all told. I was thrilled to see that I'd learned my lesson from last year: I actually folded when I had nothing. I actually was ahead of the game for most of the three hours, until The Hand Of Doom.

The Hand Of Doom was a game of seven-card stud, low card in the hole wild. I had a two and a ten in the hole, and a two and a ten showing. This meant that twos were wild for me, and I had four tens. More to the point, it would be very difficult to guess that I had four tens. Beth had two queens showing, so I was guessing full house. Either way, you don't drop out with four tens.

She had five queens -- two queens in the hole, plus another that served as the wild card. The betting had, of course, gotten fierce, so I wound up losing a big wad on that one.

Still and all, I only came up one dollar short -- given how much I lost on The Hand Of Doom, that was pretty good (I think I blew one dollar just on one round of betting in that hand).

After that, Alex, David, and I went back to the room. We all got into our respective beds and turned the lights out, but -- as will happen -- it took a while for us to stop talking and go to sleep. Alex in particular seemed fixated on gelding horses, for reasons known only to her. (Indeed horses, and the castrating thereof, was a topic we kept returning to all weekend...)


White Sign! White Sign!

Monday morning came, and we ordered room service breakfast. I'd never done that before, and it was very decadent. Excellent Belgian waffles and maple syrup, sausages, decent coffee, and apple juice. (The blueberries weren't anything to leap in the air about, though.) We packed in a leisurely manner, eventually wandering down to check out and meet Kogelman & Kid at 1pm.

On the way out, I saw Judith Goodman -- one of Marina's friends from high school, and who was in our wedding party -- who had over the preceding weekend struck up a friendship with Cary, thus confusing me, as I know them from two completely different parts of my life, and seeing them together made my head feel all funny. I also got to see Judith's sister Meredith, whom I hadn't seen in years. Nice little capper to the weekend.

Then we piled into the Grand Prix for the drive home. David took us out of Washington and all the way into New Jersey, then I took us home. Ben -- having aparently decided that he had been way too quiet on the way down -- went totally manic on us on the way back. The lowlight was when he decided to point out every time he saw a sign, identifying it by color ("Blue sign!" for the service stop indicators, "Green sign!" for the exits, etc.). This was only a problem insofar as Ben's criteria for what constitutes a sign extends to the tenth-mile markers on the Turnpike, resulting in his bellowing, "White sign!" every other second.

Traffic was remarkably light for Memorial Day Weekend -- the worst traffic we saw was on one of the exit ramps to a service stop (and the crowd in the one service stop we went into when we changed drivers was insane) -- so we made good time, arriving back in Manhattan at 5.30. Marina had made a mess of meat sauce, and Alex & David stayed for dinner (Marina boiled some noodles to go with the meat sauce) and watched the Highlander season finale (which they'd forgotten to set the timer for).

And that was our trip...

[First posted on the "Keith R.A. DeCandido [KEITH.D]" topic on Genie on 28 May 1996.]

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