Words, Words, Words

November 14, 1999

When I got back to my room Saturday night I was ready to collapse in bed, except there was a weird flash of light on the ceiling and I couldn't rest until I tracked it back to its source, which turned out to be a batery charger belonging to one of my roommates on top of the dresser. After covering it with a towel I dropped into peaceful slumber, only to get up a little after 8:00 so I could try to make it to a 9:00 panel. Since I still hadn't finished packing I was not completely successful, but I did get to "Critters - in Fact and Fantasy" by 9:30, which was pretty good. I didn't take any notes, but I remember the discussion was was quite intelligent, with examples of how various species' social behavior affects how they interact with humans.

After that I spent some time in the con suite. I was brave and joined Connie Hirsch at a table with two people I didn't know, Greer Ilene Gilman and Faye Ringel, and had a long and interesting conversation even after Connie left the table, starting with a discussion of Anthony Trollope and digressing from there. (Whew. I have to try this "brave" thing more often.)

Next I went to Samuel Delany's reading, which turned out to be excerpts from his nonfiction book Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, which discusses the gay subculture that used to exist in Times Square and the effect of the recent redevelopment. Two quotes: "New York was a city where the gay working man was never more than ten minutes away from an orgasm." "It was only organized crime that put any thought into these institutions, but they put some very good thought into it." Based on what I heard, I can highly recommend this book.

The final panel was "Beyond the Black Gate: Heroic Voyages to Hell and Back (from Orpheus to Frodo)", which was very interesting, but once again I didn't take notes. I did come up with a story idea, which I elaborated into a short outline on the plane home -- a nice way to wrap up the con.

The final event was the banquet. I had been careful not to buy a ticket until I was sure I knew someone else who was going, but unfortunately she decided at the last minute not to attend the con. So I lingered outside the banquet hall hoping somebody I knew would show up, and at 1:20 Helen Thompson (Helcat) showed up with her boyfriend. Whew!

The first course was salad, with dressing in gravy boats that looked like real gravy. The brown stuff turned out to be a very thick balsamic vinaigrette. After spooning some onto my salad I described it as vinegar pudding. It looked peculiar but was very good.

The rolls had whole grains baked into them and were quite tasty. The fruit salad was served with coconut cream (which they called "coconut crÈme", but I can't bring myself to be that pretentious). I stopped the waiter from serving me clam chowder and asked if there was a vegetarian alternative. There wasn't, but the question evidently filled the waiter with such sympathy that he made a point of patting me on the shoulder for the rest of the meal. I mildly regret having not made a scene.

The secret vegetarian entree (the carnivorous entrees were described in advance) turned out to be vegetables on top of red beans and rice. Most of the vegetables were frozen diced carrots, with tasteless peas a close second. The potatoes were fine and there were little bits of asparagus that were quite good.

Dessert was the high point of the meal, a delicious three-chocolate torte. At the end of the meal they cleared away our coffee cups, without having ever offered to fill them. Helen had the presence of mind to ask for coffee before they snatched hers away, so she got some.

And then I went home. A group formed in the lobby to share taxis to the airport, which turned out to be faster and slightly cheaper than the airport shuttle. My luggage was not too infernally heavy, my plane was on time, and I got home in good order, although I was sufficiently exhausted the next morning to call in and take half a day off work. It was a good con, even though I did a terrible job of finding people I wanted to introduce myself to. (Better luck next year: I'll be at Worldcon, and probably Lunacon and Albacon as well.)

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