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August 3, 2004

Worldcongoing
Posted by Teresa at 04:03 PM * 332 comments

The following was pseudonymously posted last month on the AbsoluteWrite board, a hangout for aspiring writers.

Semi-random bits of advice for writers attending their first SF convention

This began when HollyB posted:

“I’m interesting in attending Noreascon Four in Boston over Labor Day, and I was wondering if anyone had any advice for a newbie writer planning to attend. I know it’s primarily a fan convention, but they have an academic program as well (although I can’t seem to find a schedule or list of talks on the website). Is it possible to meet editors, agents, or other writers there?”
1. General Theory:

Fiction is fiction, publishing is an industry, but the science fiction community is an old and complex social continuum. You don’t have to become a virtual citizen of that virtual commonwealth in order to sell fiction; but if you attend one of their conventions, you’re on their turf. The attendees at that convention aren’t there to worship science fiction and the people who create it. They’re there to see each other, and to talk about SF and fantasy and related subjects. If the only reason you can imagine going to a convention is to promote your career, stay home. The benefits won’t repay your cost and effort, and your attitude will irritate the natives.

Some other communities use the worldcon for their own gatherings, in effect piggybacking on the convention. This can be hard to distinguish from interest groups within the SF community. As a rule of thumb, events that have official existence are listed in the convention program. (Note: the program notes are never perfectly accurate.)

Fan, academic, professional, and conrunner are not mutually exclusive terms. Some of the most respected members of the community have neither professional sales nor academic credentials. To quote Kate Nepveu, “Cons are for having fun, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. Period. (SF fandom is remarkably egalitarian, though not perfectly so.)”

Be nice to the people running the convention. They’re not getting paid.

The cost of having you at the convention is not covered by the price of your membership. The shortfall is covered via free labor. The World Science Fiction Convention is the largest volunteer-run annual convention in North America. Cons are the SF community getting together to interact with itself, and the worldcon is the annual gathering of all the tribes. There’ll be a great many events and activities taking place there, but the core event will be people talking to each other. This will go on till all hours.

If something bad happens to you, go talk to the conrunners. They can’t fix everything, but they can often be very helpful. However, if the bad event is the sort of thing for which you’d normally call 911, be sensible and call 911.

You don’t have to go to the Business Meeting, though you’re allowed to do so if you want. You can’t go to the SFWA meeting unless you’re a member. Trust me, it’s not much of a loss.

Every worldcon has at least one major department go into meltdown mode six weeks before the convention. Don’t panic if someone tells you lurid stories about whichever department it is this year. Worldcons have survived some amazingly chaotic episodes.

Tip your chambermaid. Clean up after yourself. Be nice to the service staff. The SF community’s good behavior is one of the things that makes their conventions possible.

2. Personal Maintenance

Early on in the convention’s program, there’ll be an orientation panel for congoing newbies. Go there. Listen. Consider taking notes.

The worldcon can be overwhelming to people who’ve been attending it for decades. It will unquestionably overwhelm you. When things get to be too much, go back to your room and nap for an hour. It’s a sovereign cure. The other sovereign cure is to try some smaller conventions. Boskone’s good.

Another sign of trouble is that you suddenly realize that all your friends hate you, you’re having an awful time, you’ve made a fool of yourself in every conversation you’ve been in so far, and you should never have come to the convention. This is definitely a sign that you should go back to your room and take a nap. When you wake up, things will be better.

If it’s early evening and you suddenly can’t find anyone you know, it’s probably because your friends have gone off on a dinner expedition. Eat in the hotel coffeeshop, keep an eye out for their return, and get yourself invited along on the next one.

Drink lots of water. Take your regular medications on your regular schedule. Carry your vital medical information (if you have any) on your person at all times. Remember to eat at least two meals and get five hours of sleep within any twenty-four-hour period. Spend at least half an hour each day outside the hotel, doing something that has nothing to do with the convention.

If you run out of food money, bear in mind that there are often subsistence-level snacks for people working on the convention. If that doesn’t work for you, get a big jar of peanut butter. Failing that, check out the refreshments in the consuite.

Be especially careful to keep up your fluid intake and get enough sleep in preparation for traveling home. You’ve just been under a lot of stress, and you’ve been exposed to new bugs imported from all over the world.

If at all possible, budget a recovery day back home.

3. Socializing

Don’t go to your first few conventions in the company of a couple of friends who are also new to the scene, or you’ll never assimilate. You’ll come home thinking you’ve been to the convention, but you’ll have missed the interactivity of it.

If at any point things get too confusing or impossible, or if you’re just short of conversation, say “I’m sorry, this is my first convention,” then ask about whatever it is you need to know.

When you need to ask a question, it’s better to pick someone who’s standing around with two or three other people. This will expose you to the fannish enthusiasm for exposition (1 question + 4 fans = 5+ explanations), but it’ll increase the likelihood of your getting reasonably accurate information.

Never decide you’ve been snubbed unless you’re sure the person in question could see and hear you, and was sure you were trying to talk to them.

Nobody knows why this is so, but SF fans have difficulty ending conversations. If you find you need to extricate yourself, a cheerful “I’m sorry, I have to go now” is usually enough.

Don’t say “sci-fi”. It’s “SF”. The community does say “sci-fi” sometimes, but pronounces it “skiffy”. Explaining the social nuances involved is beyond the scope of the present work.

If you want to meet people, volunteer to work. If you want to meet authors and editors, sign up (early!) for their kaffeeklatsches, and attend their readings. Do not attempt to pitch your work to editors while you’re at the convention.

Every community has its jerks. SF has fewer than most, but they definitely exist. Also, every community of sufficient size has scavengers, small-scale predators, and semi-outcasts lurking around the edge of the herd. Exercise normal prudence.

Don’t volunteer to share a hotel room with someone you don’t know well until you get more of a sense of things.

Be discreet with your comments at the Art Show. Artists tend to lurk in the vicinity of their paintings.

There will be private room parties in the evening. Many of these are open to anyone who wants to attend, as long as they behave themselves politely and don’t swipe all the refreshments. If they’re not open, whoever’s doing door duty will tell you so. If they’re not polite about it, they’re the jerk, not you.

The beer and soda are in the bathtub.

People who won’t let you into their circle probably aren’t being snotty elitists. Odds are, they’re a bunch of friends who’ve known each other for ten or fifteen years. They have nothing against you. You just weren’t there, back when, and you wouldn’t get the jokes. Later on, the same people will be hanging out in other, more mixed social situations. Chances are they’ll be amiable and conversable.

The above does not necessarily apply to the field’s celebrities. Some of them get very shy at conventions because they get so much unwanted attention. Other big names in the field will be perfectly approachable.

If someone starts giving you a hard time about being a media fan/wannabe writer/member of any other identifiable group, pay them no mind. They’re realtime trolls. If anyone else were willing to talk to them, they’d have something to do besides harassing you. Ignore them and they’ll go away.

Be kind and polite. Never assume it’s safe to be rude or condescending to someone just because they appear to be a very odd bird indeed. Interpersonal connections in the SF community are complex, multilayered, and wholly unpredictable; and the community itself is notably tolerant of disabilities and personal eccentricities. That very odd bird may turn out to be your favorite author, or the agent you have your eye on, or the editor to whom your novel is currently on submission. They might be one of the field’s mandarin theorists: highly respected, but almost impossible to spot from outside the community. But what you really have to watch out for is the odd bird who was your hoped-for agent’s or editor’s best friend when they were teenage neofans together, or their former spouse and business partner, or their fellow member for several decades now of a small and obscure but oddly influential APA, or their opponent in the worst fan feud in twenty years.

On the other hand, that very odd bird may be bothering you because no one else will talk to him. Disengage, and go do something else that’s more fun.

Addenda: Sartorias (who is Sherwood Smith) offers her own advice for congoing writers. So do Kate Nepveu and Michelle Sagara.
Comments on Worldcongoing:
#1 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 05:13 PM:

It's a bit late for the Boskone suggestion to help anyone this year, I think. :-)

I am allowing ideas to percolate for a blog entry/comment thread of Boston tips for Worldcon visitors while I wait less-than-patiently for my domain registration renewal to get through the system. Sigh.

#2 ::: betsy ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 05:17 PM:

oh, that's fabulous. i had managed to pick most of that up at local cons before i went to chicon, but there are bits in there that i still don't know at a deep enough level to keep in mind while they're happening.

#3 ::: liz ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 05:20 PM:

I have never been to a convention (so shoot me--there was an episode where I had to go to other kinds of conventions and I Ioathed the experiences with a deep, virulent, loathe...so never tempted.)

What struck me about this essay is what good advice it is for life in general.

Deep thanks to the poster.

#4 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 05:40 PM:

I think that's pretty dead-on, and written in a way that's actually likely to be helpful to the first-time congoer. Short enough to read all of it; no wasted advice (well, the sleeping part might fall on deaf ears); points out some of the peculiarities of fandom without in any way dissing it.

I'd love to find out who wrote it. There's something oddly familiar about the style...

#5 ::: Lucy Huntzinger ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 05:40 PM:

Nobody knows why this is so, but SF fans have difficulty ending conversations.

This made me laugh so hard I think I sprained my cerebral cortex. I thought it was just me; I now realize it's a tribal trait. Thank you!

#6 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 05:50 PM:

I wish I could go to Worldcon... or any con, for that matter...

#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 05:53 PM:

2. is missing something:

Wash.

If your housing situation doesn't allow this, something is very wrong.

Big jar of peanut butter? Not bad, but a bag of mixed fruit is about the same price and will keep the weekend.

Don't try to live on party food.

Be tolerant of and concientious toward non-convention goers. Revenge is for the petty.

Sleeping bag zipper entrapment: It may seem counterintuitive, but pulling the zipper back up often does the trick.

#8 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 06:05 PM:

I'm wondering who wrote it, too, the person did a marvellous, extremely accurate, and no-axes-grinding, clear-eyed and kindly piece of writing there!

#9 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 06:22 PM:

The World Science Fiction Convention is the largest volunteer-run annual convention in North America.

I wasn't entirely sure that this was a correct statement, so I did some research.

From http://www.nesfa.org/data/LL/TheLongList.html,
we can see that the 2002 Worldcon had 5916 people as their total-attended number.

From http://www.concatenation.org/conrev/toreprt.html, we get "Over 4,000 registered for, and more than 3,646 had picked up their programme packs two thirds through, the 61st Worldcon, Torcon 3 in Toronto from August 28th to September 1st, 2003." This was, unfortunately, the best data I could come up with for the number of people at the 2003 Worldcon in Toronto.

Worldcon 2002: 5916
Worldcon 2003: 4000+ preregistered

Otakon (http://www.otakon.com) is a volunteer-run convention celebrating anime, manga, and east-asian culture that has taken place yearly since 1994, lately in the Baltimore Convention Center. Data for the con are available from http://www.otakon.com/history_stats.asp

Otakon 2002: 12,880
Otakon 2003: 17,338

There is not an official total for 2004 yet because the con took place this past weekend. The preliminary numbers I've seen are higher than the numbers for 2003, though.

The totals given are the number of individual, distinct human beings who paid (eg. not staff, not Industry, not dealers, not guests) to get into the convention.

Otakon staff are not paid. The nonprofit corporation that runs Otakon retains an accountant (to do the tax returns) and a lawyer (for contracts and stuff). The corporation also hires a sound/lighting company, some bonded security (required by our venue), and some people to run cash registers at registration. Everyone else (more than two hundred souls) volunteers.

#10 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 06:23 PM:

I've been to Comic-Con several times in San Diego--which is really like going to the largest comic book store/mall-for-geeks in the world for four days. I gather that the commercial aspects of Comic-Con are larger than at normal SF cons, since somebody once asked me how big the merch area was, and I had to explain that pretty much the whole of Comic-con (except for the twenty rooms upstairs for panels) was one big merchandising free-for-all.

But I've not actually been to a typical SF convention (if there is actually any such beast) and if anybody here has been to both Comic-con (or APE or any other con o' comics) AND SF cons, I would be interested in hearing the differences between the two.

Do not attempt to pitch your work to editors while you’re at the convention.

If this is so, then Comic-con and SF cons must differ in one respect--Comic-con encourages portfolio review but at specific times and places. There is an orientation panel for getting your portfolio reviewed--generally hosted by the company you are trying to contract with or get your book picked up at--and then you go sign up, wait in line, and watch somebody flip through your work. 99% of the time, they will pat you on the head and send you on your way, but of course, there are stories about people who were discovered at Comic-con. (Or people who were told to give the studio a call afterwards, or whatever.)

Never decide you’ve been snubbed unless you’re sure the person in question could see and hear you, and was sure you were trying to talk to them.

That one is still pretty applicable at Comic-Con. Half the time they can't hear you because of the prosthetic ears and the other half they can't see you because their mask keeps slipping over their glasses.

...

Any tips on what to do about post-con blues? That weird sense that another year has passed and a whole 'nother year has to go by before you and everybody else in this strange little village get to reunite?

#11 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 06:45 PM:

I have to say, I think I've been severely warped in my con-mentality by the fact that my regular "home" con is Comic-Con International (Maggie Thompson said the dealers' room was 12 acres this year). I keep thinking a Worldcon would make for a nice cosy change of pace.

#12 ::: Karen Cooper ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 06:46 PM:

Another sign of trouble is that you suddenly realize that all your friends hate you, you’re having an awful time, you’ve made a fool of yourself in every conversation you’ve been in so far, and you should never have come to the convention. This is definitely a sign that you should go back to your room and take a nap. When you wake up, things will be better.

So very true. Burningman emphasizes this also by saying something like, "If everyone around you is vile and obnoxious, it's not them, it's you. Drink some water. Get a nap."

I looked for the exact quote in various places on the Burningman web site, but could not find it.

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 07:01 PM:

Christopher, the style sounds familiar to me, too. Given the nature of the advice being dispensed, odds are good that it's someone we'd recognize.

#14 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 07:16 PM:

Hmm. Given that the original appeared in pieces over time, rather than this seamless whole, and given this final seems to incorporate a number of improving edits to make the whole more graceful, and given that Someone We Know Around Here is somewhat notorious for honing her stuff to a faretheewell, I think I Have a Theory as to whom the pseudonymous author may be. As noted above, the style is Familiar.

#15 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 07:31 PM:

Ulrika, I too was struck by the familiarity of the style. As I'm the sort of reader who doesn't usually pay a lot of conscious attention to style, I wasn't confident enough to say anything, until you spoke up.

Then I went and read the original posting, and noticed that HapiSofi (the author's pseudonym) responded to a question about attribution with:

As the man said, I've written Gandalf is here in signs that all can read from Rivendell to the mouths of Anduin.

And when asked if [s]he would be on any panels, said:

Unless Noreascon's amended their posted program listings since last time I looked, the name "HapiSofi" is nowhere to be found in them.

Hey, somebody's got to be the audience.

I suspect that appearing on panels while simultaneously representing your alter ego in the audience is particularly taxing!

#16 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 07:32 PM:

Ulrika, I wish I could say thanks (I think); but if you'll read farther on in that thread, you'll find Hapi's own unified and rewritten version.

#17 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 07:35 PM:

PicusFiche: everything about Comic-Con is larger, not just the dealers' room. The programming was, what? twelve tracks? The Hall H held 6500 seats, and Room 20 and 6AB both held over 4,000 each, still leaving another 20 or so rooms for the rest of the programming, films, anime, film festival, gaming, etc. That the dealer's room was 12 acres this year (or so Maggie Thompson said) is just proportional to the well-over 75,000 attendance.

Comic-Con is an aberration. It's huge, a behemoth, a monster of cons. But it's not necessarily any more commercial than other cons. In fact, less, given that it's also a volunteer-run (well, mostly. There is a small paid staff, because it's so huge) and non-profit, and the Expo (trade show) is now a thing of the past.

The difference, I think, between Comic-Con and a "regular" con would be the size and focus and noise level. Most cons will be smaller, narrower, and quieter. And therefore, more socializing can occur.

Comic-Con, back in the early '80s, was smaller and quieter (although not necessarily narrower. The animation, Hollywood, gaming, and anime sects were already well-established at that time), and there was a great deal more time to breathe in the gaps and get to know your neighbors, rather than the full on Disneyland-like onslaught we currently have.

As for post-con blues, you gotta learn to dead dog. Or find other cons to go to. (Hair of the dog?) Personally, I use my Recovery Day to float in a pool, go to a beach, or find some really good sushi.

#18 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 08:22 PM:

I have found Comic-Con to be significantly more commercial than other cons I've attended.

That was a turn-off to me for many years, because I thought commercial would mean bland, passionless and beige. A big McMall of cons. Because of those assumptions, I didn't spend a significant amount of time at ComicCon until this year, even though I live in San Diego.

This year, I attended the con for several hours each day for two days, and I saw that the con is, indeed, commercial. But it's very colorful and vibrant. People go to ComicCon to sell and buy and shop, but what they're selling and buying and shopping for is art that they're passionate about. It ain't McDonald's hamburgers.

I took a few pictures. Wish I'd taken more. Picture I wish I'd taken: a big guy walking down the main convention center promenade. His face and body were completely hidden by his costume, a voluminous robe with an elaborate mask of some tusked, pig-like demon or alien. And he was drinking a Starbucks Frappuccino through a straw.

Disclaimer: As I said, I haven't spent much time at Comic-Con. And I don't go to many sf conventions. But I'm just sayin'.

#19 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 08:28 PM:

I've been going to cons on a very small scale (1-2 per year) since 1996. The thing that has impressed me most over time is "the community itself is notably tolerant of disabilities and personal eccentricities." People in the SF community have an amazing number of health problems, and the community accommodates them without batting an eye. (I got scolded once for refilling a dish that had contained peanut M&Ms with regular M&Ms without washing it--an attendee might be deathly allergic to peanuts.) This trait can be called inclusivity.

#20 ::: flaime ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 08:45 PM:

Very important addition: make sure to bathe. At Chicon in 2000, I swear that 1 out of every 10 people I ran into failed to bathe for the entire con. It wasn't fun being around them and you could always tell when one was coming by the large empty space that would open as they moved. And the people you will want to meet at the con will be appreciative of the act as well.

#21 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 08:53 PM:

People go to ComicCon to sell and buy and shop, but what they're selling and buying and shopping for is art that they're passionate about.

Mitch: thanks!! That's much more on the money than what I said.

One of the reasons I continue to attend Comic-Con after two decades is that it annually reminds me of why I love comics, and that there's always more out there than I think there is. (This year's fave bagged kill: Craig Thompson's Carnet de Voyage).

#22 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 08:57 PM:

To follow up on flaime's comment, here's a guide to con hygiene from a very sarcastic web comic.

#23 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 09:04 PM:

I read this con-going advice as someone who's never attended a big SF con, but who does attend the yearly Origami-USA and National Puzzlers' League conventions. Excellent advice!

Someone in the NPL said, at his first convention, "Oh! This is where all the people from my home planet went!" I have to assume this happens to people at their first Worldcon, too.

#24 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 09:13 PM:

Inclusivity, yes. Tolerance. A desire to interact with that person that supersedes mere issues of disability.

One of the happiest conversations I ever had at a convention was between me (good vision, poor hearing), James White (normal hearing, nearly blind), and Chuck Harris (normal vision, profoundly deaf, hearing-impaired speech). What I said to Chuch had to be written out by hand, and I repeated it out loud as I wrote it so that James would know what I'd said. My hearing had gotten bad enough that I was having trouble making out what Chuch was saying, but James translated for me, repeating Chuch's remarks in a discreet undertone. And I wrote out James's remarks to Chuch, because I had the writing pad, and because I could see what I was doing.

Would I rather have been talking to people with normal sight and hearing? Only if they were Chuch and James.

#25 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 09:21 PM:

Quite right about the need to nap. May I amend: If you're not staying at the hotel you can't nap (I had this problem at one con) so sleeping late on Saturday morning before going in to the con is a good idea.

#26 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 10:21 PM:

With our hostess's indulgence, I'm going to paste over my own further comments on that thread, in case people don't click over:

* I've found I can only attend two panels in a row before I start getting antsy and contrary. Your mileage will almost certainly vary, but consider making a list of x < 10 panels/readings you absolutely *must* go to and working around it. Flexibility is a good thing regardless.

(This might be easier once program participants are added to the schedule, though knowing that X or Y gives good panel is a matter of personal experience and preference.)

* At really good panels, I find myself wanting to raise my hand all the time. Don't be that girl or guy; there are other people in the audience. If you're really enthused and have more comments than you can decently interject during the panel, go up after: "that was fascinating, you're probably heading off somewhere, but will you be around later to talk some more?"

This works for meeting other enthused audience members, too.

Failing that, come back here / to LiveJournal / to Usenet /etc. and start a discussion about it. =>

* If I see that an author I like is having a signing, or is going to be on a panel, or doing a coffee-thing, I get an opening question or comment ready ahead of time; it makes me feel more confident. I don't bring books for signings, but I often get in lines anyway: "Hi, I don't have anything to be signed, but I just wanted to say that I like your books. Also, I was wondering [fairly specific thing, especially if there is a big line]."

* There may be two really interesting-sounding panels on at the same time. This happens; flip a coin. There may be two really interesting-sounding panels on at the same time that seem to have very similar target audiences. This might be worth contacting programming politely over (last Boskone, it was "Worldbuilding in Historical Fiction" and "Mixing Fantasy and History"; one was moved back an hour).

* Wear your badge where we can read it, please. I had a long conversation once with a very nice person who wore his badge on his belt on the side and to this day I have no idea who he was.

[It was at the 2002 Tor Party, a medium-high white guy with non-dark hair. You here?]

* The food court in the Prudential Center, in February, had quite good Indian food with *enormous* naan.

* The Higgins Armory does cool demonstrations.

#27 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 10:44 PM:

Another sign of trouble is that you suddenly realize that all your friends hate you, you’re having an awful time, you’ve made a fool of yourself in every conversation you’ve been in so far, and you should never have come to the convention. This is definitely a sign that you should go back to your room and take a nap. When you wake up, things will be better.

Yes, oh yes. It took me years to figure this one out. If you know yourself for an introvert, be prepared to spend and hour or two/day in your room by yourself recovering from people overload.

MKK

#28 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 11:07 PM:

Brenda writes: " People in the SF community have an amazing number of health problems, and the community accommodates them without batting an eye. (I got scolded once for refilling a dish that had contained peanut M&Ms with regular M&Ms without washing it--an attendee might be deathly allergic to peanuts.)"

That has nothing to do with fandom. Peanut allergy is increasingly common, and is the most commonly fatal food allergy.

You may have noticed that airlines have, for the most part, stopped serving peanuts, and it ain't because their seats are filled by fen with weird conditions.

#29 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 11:08 PM:

Never decide you’ve been snubbed unless you’re sure the person in question could see and hear you, and was sure you were trying to talk to them.

Yes indeedy. One of the first things I am going to do is find somebody making buttons and pay them to make me two buttons that say, "I'm not snubbing you; I'm lipreading, and I didn't see a word you were saying. Really," or something like that. Over the years, I have learned to bring up the hearing impairment issue, because apparently I lip-read well enough that people frequently figure I am blowing off questions that I have no idea they have asked me (from the side, from behind me, or just from a direction I was not looking).

Oh, and I am fairly selective about dinner expeditions these days, not just because too many people in one leaves me hopelessly out of the conversation, but also because trying to lip-read people who talk with their mouths full puts me off my dinner. Also, at least one meal at the convention I go by myself, if I am feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by lip-reading so much. It's fine if people who see me there want to invite me to join their bunch, but it's also good if they don't mind if I decline sometimes because my eyes are too full and my brain is tired.

In a way, having a hearing loss at a science fiction convention as big as a Worldcon is at its bad moments rather like being a permanent neo in a room where everybody is too busy to answer questions from somebody who seems a bit slow to them. Also, fans are too often unwittingly cruel to anyone whose disability or presentation resembles lack of smarts. (I'm a fan, and there are definitely some culpas for mea in that last statement too.) Unless people know or can guess that I am hearing-impaired, they seem to make an assumption about the time I ask for my third repeat, and that assumption is that I am not bright enough to warrant the effort it would make to converse with me. This bugs me less than it used to, because mostly I don't care to waste time giving a fuck any more, but it still occasionally gets me to burst into tears.

I'm still looking forward to the convention, though. A few bad moments don't spoil a good time in general.

#30 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 11:25 PM:

The "two meals and five hours of sleep" rule is an old one, along with the advice that it's important not to get them backwards. That may seem funny, but when you're at a WorldCon, it's all too easy. It's happened to me more than once. I haven't tracked down the origin of the quote. Maybe it's Tucker's Neofan's Guide.

That daily shower is a nice courtesy to your fellow fans, but as a courtesy to yourself, I strongly recommend obsessive hand washing. Normally I don't make a big deal of it, but when I spend a week with several thousand of my closest personal friends, it's nice to come home with only the things that I actually wanted to pick up. A good way to remind yourself to wash your hands regularly is to drink plenty of water. When I get to the con, I buy a six pack of two-liter water bottles, cheap, and carry one in my backpack or tote bag.

I gotta go.

#31 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 11:31 PM:

Elise, every fan I know who's hearing-impaired puts in a lot of decompression time at conventions. Same goes for being hearing-impaired anywhere else: major stress.

#32 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2004, 11:52 PM:

Brenda: I got scolded once for refilling a dish that had contained peanut M&Ms with regular M&Ms without washing it--an attendee might be deathly allergic to peanuts.

Jon: That has nothing to do with fandom. Peanut allergy is increasingly common, and is the most commonly fatal food allergy.

Brenda again: What I wanted to say was that the manager of the con suite *cared*. In other places and times--parties, salad bars, buffet lines, and what not--the philosophy is usually "You're on your own." (I exclude airlines from this--I think they have come to care about Not Being Sued due to peanut allergies.)

#33 ::: Hannah Wolf Bowen ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 12:16 AM:

Another sign of trouble is that you suddenly realize that all your friends hate you...take a nap. When you wake up, things will be better.

That's also pretty good advice for out-of-con, too.

If you absolutely can't bring yourself to nap, then drink a glass of juice. A friend recommended this to me for badbrainchemicals once and it works a treat.

#34 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 12:18 AM:

Naps are good. Or even just spending a quiet half hour in your room, emphasis on quiet. I commute to Baycon rather than staying in the hotel, and get very tired by the end of the day. This year I had friends there who *were* staying in the hotel, and it made quite a difference to be able to go and sit in their room for an hour. Even with several people in the room, it was amazing how restful the difference in noise level was.

Water. Carry a water bottle. I've been hungover, and I'm teetotal. It's because I often don't drink enough, and carrying a water bottle and making sure I refill it often enough to give me at least a minimum level of water per day helps avoid dehydration. It's very easy to forget to drink enough water.

#35 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 12:49 AM:

Same goes for being hearing-impaired anywhere else: major stress.

Far too true, Teresa. I used to love crowd scenes, but these days I have to be careful. Slight hearing loss in my left ear and severe loss in my right (combined with some tinnitus and Meniere's in that ear) results in a complete loss of binaural hearing with just a little white noise mixed in. (There isn't enough of a problem on the left side for a hearing aid, and no use for one on the right.) It's not just that I don't pick up stereo anymore. Binaural hearing allows you localize sounds, to pick one voice out of the noise. I can't do that anymore.

I have to carefully ration my exposure to noisy situations now, as an hour or so trying to keep up with conversation in a noisy restauraunt is enough to make me consider new uses for the steak knives.

#36 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 12:49 AM:

TomB, I bring (can't remember the brand name) wet wipes in individual foil packets to cons. I find there's always someone else who can use them, too.

The doctor makes me drink 32oz of Gatorade a day and I was looking at the dry stuff and taking a tupperware container to mix it in when I go to Minicon, but DDB volunteered to buy it for me before hand. Many thanks to him.

One of the best things cons can have is big red leather chairs & sofas. There's nothing like having comfortable places to sit & talk.

#37 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 01:18 AM:

Binaural hearing allows you localize sounds, to pick one voice out of the noise. I can't do that anymore.

Claude, I found out the hard way that it is possible to lose the ability to localize sounds even if both ears have the same (limited) amount of hearing: I wore hearing aids for a few years, and my localization went away and has never really come back, though I stopped wearing the hearing aids more than five years ago.

I have to carefully ration my exposure to noisy situations now, as an hour or so trying to keep up with conversation in a noisy restauraunt is enough to make me consider new uses for the steak knives.

I know that one! What with the lip-reading, I generally have a choice between trying to keep up with the conversation, or giving up on it and actually being able to eat, seeing as how eating requires that I glance at my plate now and then, which is enough to make me lose any bearings I had in the conversation.

People who can hear have no idea how much work is involved in not hearing well. Even aside from the work of conversing, there's always the necessity to be alert enough to notice when other people are reacting to stuff that's probably sounds I can't hear. "Dog whistles," I call those things I can't hear. Enough of them are matters of safety and/or courtesy that I have to watch a little bit all the time, or risk, well, a lot more than people who hear risk when they don't habitually glance around regularly.

#38 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 01:28 AM:

Thank you for posting all this useful advice. I haven't been to a con in 15 years. Not being one for halfway measures, I thought Worldcon would be a great occasion with which to begin my return to active fandom. And now it will.

#39 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 02:46 AM:

And wear comfortable shoes!

#40 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 03:19 AM:

I've been to three WorldCons but never in the States. I thought I had it sorted, but now I'm terrified! :-)

#41 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 08:15 AM:

Teresa, as usual, you have good taste in selecting material. I also asked the writer for permission to use that on the Preditors & Editors (tm) web site.

#42 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 08:21 AM:

My limited con experience has spawned the following advice:

Don't be afraid to have a goal that doesn't appear to be what you "paid for." The con as a whole is what your membership is paying for, and if that means you miss panels because you're in a fascinating conversation, that's all part of the deal. Don't ruin the conversation worrying about it. And for heaven's sake, if you and your favorite author are comfortably settled in the bar telling each other terrible jokes and having a grand old time, what else do you really truly want out of a con? (Unless your favorite author is also your spouse or parent or next-door neighbor, in which case you might want to hang out with someone you don't get to see all the time.)

If you're going to panels, read the list of panelists. A friend and I discovered at ConJose that "How To Torture Your Characters" is intended to be a quite different and more literal panel if it has Susan Matthews on it.

There are only three reasons to worry about what you wear to a con:
1) you're a costumer or other dress-involved fan;
2) you enjoy fussing about clothes;
3) it redirects other anxieties semi-constructively.
Otherwise, cover yourself legally and comfortably and quit worrying about it.

My "legal and comfortable" in occasions where I don't know very many people well is pretty dresses or short skirts and tops. This is not fan uniform, but nobody seems to care if you're out of uniform. Before my first con, I kept asking people what to wear. And they kept saying useful things like "clothes." It frustrated me. Then I got there and found out they were right.

#43 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 08:27 AM:

Claude: Non-localization, yes: all sounds are created equal. It's maddening. These days, we check out the restaurant for sound level before we let the waitress seat us. Failing that, I politely request that they allow me to bribe them to turn down the @#$%! background music.

Elise, the one I stumble over is not being able to tell that someone's engaged in another conversation. Also, I can hear most sounds, just not sort them out, so the hypervigilance thing means I'm forever picking up on weird background sounds no one else is noticing.

The first time I met Dick Giordano -- he'd been inking a book for me -- I shook his hand and said "How do you do, Mr. Giordano. I'm Teresa Nielsen Hayden."

He said something amiable that sounded plausible but was perfectly generic.

I think I grinned at him. "I'm your editor," I said, speaking slowly and clearly, and exaggerating my lip movements.

His assistant, standing next to him, tapped him on the shoulder. "You have to talk to this one," she said.

"My cubicle?" I suggested, pointing toward it.

He nodded, then said, "Are you deaf, or is it someone in your family?"

Dang, that man has a good eye.

"My father," I said, and we went off to talk.

#44 ::: Diane Turnshek ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 08:44 AM:

I encourage teen genre writers to go to cons. This advice is exactly what they need to hear before trying WorldCon this year. Thanks so much. For the most part, the teen writers you'll notice in Boston met at the Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers and then attended Confluence, a 250-person, Pittsburgh con. It's a big jump from that to a Worldcon. I have a Teen Workshop panel scheduled on Friday morning at 11:00 AM where we plan to meet up. That's my addition to this advice. If you come with a group of friends, decide beforehand one program item a day to attend, in case you get hopelessly separated.
Two other good articles about SF conventions:
Surviving Fandom: A Practical Guide for New Writers (and Fans) by Dr. John L. Flynn and The Survival Kit for NeoFans by S.J. Dudley and Joe Bethancourt.

#45 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 09:36 AM:
Every worldcon has at least one major department go into meltdown mode six weeks before the convention.
So which departments have melted down for this one? Inquiring minds want to know.

#46 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 09:43 AM:

I sigh. I weep. I beat my breast in anguish. A con, readings, panels, parties, friends I've not seen enough in too long. I wish I could go. Especially since I've never been.

#47 ::: Holly Biffl ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 09:44 AM:

I had a low-grade heart attack when I showed up here for my daily morning lurk... and found my AW post.

Thank you Teresa, and the rest of the glitterati orbiting Making Light, for the helpful suggestions. I'll shower, I'll eat at least two meals a day, I'll decompress when overwhelmed. Hopefully I'll be able to squelch my introversion and find the guts to approach people.

Now I'm even *more* curious about the identity of the mysterious HapiSofi...

#49 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 10:16 AM:

The only thing I'd add is that it's not nice to hit on everyone you meet. While people can and do meet up and hook up at conventions, it shouldn't be a congoer's main approach to meeting new people. A few times, I've been pitched to and hit on in virtually consecutive sentences, and, speaking entirely personally, this significantly decreases the person's chances of either selling me a book or getting me into bed.

Also, when you are pitching (and people do, despite the "rules" against), or merely being introduced to someone, do try to look them in the face. I know that many congoers and aspiring writers and SF fans are very shy, but really, looking at someone's breasts or crotch is not going to make a good impression, even if you're not _really_ looking at their breasts or crotch, just have your head pointed down . . . .

#50 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 10:31 AM:

Random responses and ramblings...

PiscusFische: Any tips on what to do about post-con blues?

Torcon 3 was my first Worldcon in five years. Before my train left Union Station, I made a point to run down to Loblaw's and buy a couple of big packs of President's Choice cookies. That helped greatly with the post-con letdown, if not with the diet.

There might not be another Worldcon for a whole year (or more, depending on your situation), but that doesn't mean there won't be another con. If you're around the northeastern US, Philcon in December is a good refresher.

In the months between last September and now, I've gone from "What, you mean I can't get up today and go to the Worldcon?" to "What, it's only a couple of weeks until the Worldcon again?" without too much notice of the time in between. But my poor brain is still expecting to see Toronto, and will probably not be jarred into sense until I step off the bus and see the Prudential Center instead of the CN Tower.

Kate Nepveu: Wear your badge where we can read it, please.

My first day at Torcon, I wore my badge on one of my side belt loops like Kate's mystery man (wasn't me). When I entered the consuite, the door attendant pointed straight at me and said, "Badge!" I showed it immediately, and the attendant apologized, but I could understand why it was done. After that I wore the badge on my chest. If you're worried that it will look funny, you're in the wrong place.

Julia Jones: Water. Carry a water bottle. I've been hungover, and I'm teetotal.

It is possible to get a caffeine hangover, and they're almost as bletcherous as an alcoholic hangover. Most of the panel rooms have plenty of water available, but it's often a good idea to carry your own supply. I also highly recommend fresh fruit if you're the type to eat it. It will replenish your nutirents and water simultaneously. If you have the time to leave the immediate confines of the convention, just about every major city has a farmer's market where you can buy nice fresh fruit for far less than the extortionate prices charged in the hotel.

Mris: Before my first con, I kept asking people what to wear. And they kept saying useful things like "clothes." It frustrated me. Then I got there and found out they were right.

Over the course of last year's Worldcon, my clothing spanned several gradations between jeans-and-tee and jacket-and-tie. To some extent, the less casual you are, the more you will stand out in the crowd. But then, there are some people who attend cons in formal evening wear because they enjoy doing so. It's possible to make a fashion faux pas at a con, but you have to try really, really hard (and the biggest risk you run is of someone giving you an uninteded award for your hall costume).

#51 ::: betsy ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 10:38 AM:

a few years ago, i was in russia with my father. we found communicating with the russians we were around to be a little taxing.

my father is losing his hearing, especially in the alto range (so, most women's voices are hard for him) but he speaks a bit of russian. not fluent, but enough so that he can go to russia by himself and not die.

i, on the other hand, have pretty normal hearing for a person my age who listened to some music a little too loud as a teenager, but i speak only about six words of russian.

so, more often than you'd think, the waitress/shop clerk/airline staff would say something to us in russian, my dad would look at me, i'd repeat what i'd heard phonetically, louder and more enunciated, and then my dad would answer them, in russian. oy.

we do this here in the states, as well, but there's just that added, er, challenge when the language you're working with isn't one you speak.

#52 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 10:50 AM:

Something else that can help if staying in a hotel room in the winter, is a humidifier, or barring that, take several showers a day to rehumidify oneself, clean being secondary there to avoid getting dried out and sick.

==============

Regarding clothing, people -do- look at the attire someone has on and make assumptions about the person based on it, including "is this someone I want to know/meet/interact with?" Someone in costume that hides their face and features gets "oh what a neat costume!" from probably the same number of people as "that person isn't interesting in show us a person as opposed to a costumed thing and I don't want to deal with a -thing-" reactions.

There are t-shirts and such that identify the wearer as having particular affiliations, such as the the bright turquoise "The INCREDIBLE FLOATING EAST COAST ART SHOW CREW" t-shirts, which identify the wearer as subject to "we need some help setting up/tearing down the art show!" volunteerism.

Wearing a standard business suit for contemporary times tends to mark a person as "other" for identification with Suits of the Real World. Plus, there are perceived comfort levels--business suits have a cliche of "tight in neck and collar and choking tie, the person wearing that is -not- relaxed and it's not conducive to long leisurely meandering conversations.

There is also the dimension of "courtesy to other people" -- it is not kind of someone to wear costumes that they hit other people with, e.g., shields, staves, etc., take up space, and someone who may not be the most-coordinated even when not dressed in sticking-out-costume, may go about leaving other people bruised and flattened in their wake.... having been walked into in a shopping mall by three 6 foot males in separate instances in the same corridor when I was carrying an iron fireplace grate feet out held to my torso, which anyone bothering to LOOK where they were going where LOOKING included being -aware- of Short Females, would have -seen- and -avoided- me. These bimbos of the male variety obviously weren't, and self-blindedly walked into cast iron feet-- those sorts, who can't bother to notice other people even when not in costumes that extend further out from their body than the clothing they normally wear, and prone to casually barging into other people, are even MORE likely to intersect with the hides of other people when carrying staves, shields, etc.

I start walking around with my elbows out, and anyone walking full-tilt into my elbows, gets an elbow in the gut... I got barged into a few dozen times more than I was appreciative of, in The Real World. At conventions, when I see something in a costume who appears to lack awareness of their surroundings, I stay -away- from the person and don't -want- to be near them.

#53 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 10:54 AM:

Melissa Singer: Wow, AFAIK I've never been hit on at a con. I'm not expressing disbelief, you understand, just wondering at the difference. Though checking dates, I would have been wearing at least an engagement ring to all of the cons I've been to except Eurocon '97 in Dublin (my very first con), so maybe that would account for it.

Jimcat Kasprzak: I should've said the mystery man was at Boskone, not Torcon. And even front belt loops would be an improvement (I tend to put my badge on my purse strap that I wear crosswise, but I have a new purse this year and it might not be happy with that).

#54 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 10:58 AM:

A friend of mine has coined the following aphorism and it is so so true

Being a science fiction fan means never having to say, "But where would I wear that?"

MKK

#55 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 11:17 AM:

Kate: It used to happen to me at just about every convention, until a) I got older and b) I spawned, which, even without benefit of partner, does seem to remove one from the target pool. N.B.: I talk about my kid a lot, so even though she's not with me at conventions, her existence is apparent.

The "staring at my breasts" thing still happens, even with my silvering hair and increasing wrinkles.

#56 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 11:35 AM:

The "staring at my breasts" thing still happens, even with my silvering hair and increasing wrinkles.

I'm sure if you ask them, they'll tell you that they're just admiring your T-shirt. Yeah, T-shirt.

I'm male, and I've heard people use that one. *rolls eyes*

#57 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 11:41 AM:

Paula: yeah, people will judge (or at least categorize) based on what you're wearing. But if it's what you're comfortable wearing, then maybe they'll have the right category.

Kate: uh, no, the ring alone won't do it. (And with the amount of polyamory in fandom, I find that reasonable enough as long as it's polite.) But perhaps an aura of takenness somehow will. Some people seem to have an internal gauge of such things -- not that it's always accurate, of course.

Melissa: I think it's good that fen don't have unreasonable age limitations on what they (we) consider attractive. That doesn't mean I think people should address your breasts instead of your face, but I should hope that manners would be the deciding factor there and not silvering hair/wrinkles.

(Silvering hair is so pretty! My mom's hair is going silver, and it just looks gorgeous, and I wish I thought mine would do that for me.)

I try to assume that people who appear to be staring at my breasts are nearsighted and trying to read my name badge and/or figure out why my name looks familiar. It might even be true, and it makes me feel more comfortable.

#58 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 12:07 PM:

Mris:

> But perhaps an aura of takenness somehow will. I think it's good that fen don't have unreasonable age limitations on what they (we) consider attractive. That doesn't mean I think people should address your breasts instead of your face, but I should hope that manners would be the deciding factor there and not silvering hair/wrinkles. (Silvering hair is so pretty! My mom's hair is going silver, and it just looks gorgeous, and I wish I thought mine would do that for me.) I try to assume that people who appear to be staring at my breasts are nearsighted and trying to read my name badge and/or figure out why my name looks familiar. It might even be true, and it makes me feel more comfortable.

#59 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 12:08 PM:

If this double-posts, my apologies. Connectivity blip.

Mris:

> But perhaps an aura of takenness somehow will.

I actually think that's part of what happened when I became a mom--I gave off a different aura. Though in the first year after I gave birth, I was hit on a lot! I guess happiness is attractive, lol. (Not that I'm not still happy, but it's not *new* anymore, so it doesn't shine as much.)

> I think it's good that fen don't have unreasonable age limitations on what they (we) consider attractive.

Or a lot of physical concerns. Weight, disability, and looks which fall outside of the mainstream-approved definition of beauty are no obstacle to finding love/lust in the SF community. But age is more of a factor, though not a definitive one. And about to be 45 is still about to be 45. A friend who works in the comics industry tells me that in recent years she has become invisible to men. She's 40 this year, I think.

> That doesn't mean I think people should address your breasts instead of your face, but I should hope that manners would be the deciding factor there and not silvering hair/wrinkles.

LOL (I personally think I'm still cute as a bug, and look younger than my age, but there's no accounting for taste.)

> (Silvering hair is so pretty! My mom's hair is going silver, and it just looks gorgeous, and I wish I thought mine would do that for me.)

We all pretty much go silver, starting in the front (I have a developing Bride of Frankenstein streak at one temple). My maternal grandmother was still jet-black in the back at 88, and my mother, in her early 70s, is the same. I've been silvering since my mid-20s, but it's become a lot more noticeable in the last couple of years, in part because my hair is getting long again and in part because until it hit critical mass, it was well mixed in my brownette coloring.

> I try to assume that people who appear to be staring at my breasts are nearsighted and trying to read my name badge and/or figure out why my name looks familiar. It might even be true, and it makes me feel more comfortable.

I must confess that I am one of those people who does not wear a name badge at chest level. Generally it's on my purse strap and at waist height. This is in part a deliberate effort to decrease the # of people who will pitch projects to me while I am rushing to the bathroom between panels.

#60 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 12:09 PM:

Hmm, Andy, do you have a particularly starable chest? I mean, if I wear a t-shirt with text, I want people to read it, and if they're checking out my chest at the same time, I don't mind at all. If eyetracks would mess up my clothes or something I might be concerned.

I'm male (and gay), and I completely realize that it's different for women. You're the first guy I've heard complain that people stare at his chest and use lame excuses; not because it doesn't happen, but because IME most guys don't notice or care.

#61 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 12:22 PM:

Kate: "Melissa Singer: Wow, AFAIK I've never been hit on at a con. I'm not expressing disbelief, you understand, just wondering at the difference. Though checking dates, I would have been wearing at least an engagement ring to all of the cons I've been to except Eurocon '97 in Dublin (my very first con), so maybe that would account for it."

Times changing may also have something to do with it, also, different people do get treated differently, some people get hit on, some don't, and who hits on whom is also not generic [that it, I got hit on probably hundreds of time at conventions, but R who was one of the most notorious sleep-around types, I seem to have been one of the few women (not even sure if I should qualify that with "unattached" inasmuch as he was married and had a harem beyond that...) never hit on by him!].

=========

Food at Noreascon -- in additon to the Trader Joe's across Boylston Street from the front entrance of the Hynes (which is down a level from the first floor of the convention center -- Halls A and B are on the first floor and rooms with 1xx numbers, Halls C and D where the Concourse and Dealers' Room are and the room where the Hugoes and Masquerade will be are on the second floor and 2xx rooms, and the third floor will have the art show and 3xx rooms with programming in them), there is a very large Shaw's Supermarket across the street from the Marriott Hotel (the block east of the Prudential Center/Hynes/Sheraton) which has fresh fruit, sushi to go, a hot food bar, a wine store, etc., in it. Last time I was in it (at Boskone) it was open until midnight weekdays and I think Saturday, and closed earlier than that on Sunday. It superseded the 24 hour except on Sunday Star Market which had been in the Prudential Center (Shaw's bought Star a few years ago. The Shaw's is in less than two year old building that has several hundred residential condos or apartments sited on top of it),

The old open market in Boston is Haymarket, over by the Haymarket subway stop. It was there long before I was a college student, but I expect has changed over the years. It used to be there and Friday and Saturday mornings, and my dormmates would go there to pick up stuff for Hall Feeds --a 20 pound beef roast, vegetables for 30 people or so, etc.-- but you really had to watch for rotten stuff, and some of the vendors were less polite than Durgin Park waitstaff (meaning thatsome of them would -throw- the rotten produce at customers objecting to it...)

#62 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 12:22 PM:

Mris: I may well have "not available" stamped in big metaphorical letters all over me; I have no idea (and can't really think how'd I'd find out). I hope they aren't rude letters, at least.

Anyway. I should go back to making my list of two panels per day that I have to go to.

#63 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 12:42 PM:

A couple of thoughts from a former road-warrior (I used to travel about 50%+ of my work-week):

Something else that can help if staying in a hotel room in the winter, is a humidifier, or barring that, take several showers a day to rehumidify oneself, clean being secondary there to avoid getting dried out and sick.

Hotel rooms generally are dry. If you wake up feeling as if your eyeballs have been sandpapered, a lo-tech humidifier can be created with your ice bucket and a hand towel - half-fill the ice bucket with water, stick one end of the towel in and and drape the other end somwhere where the water won't be an issue (preferably over the heating vent if it can be managed). The towel wicks water out of the bucket, and the heat encourages it to evaporate into the air. Filling the bath with the hottest water you can get out of the pipes before you go to bed and letting it steam might also work fairly well, but I've never tried that.

On badges: I've never been to a con, but I've been to plenty of less-fun conferences, and I've always been grateful for the people who do badges with your full name/affiliation in regular-size type, and your preferred nick/name in very large, readable type underneath the other data. Keeps the peering closely at one's chest to a minimum.

#64 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 01:01 PM:

Xopher, no one's said that to me, only to women I've been within earshot of. Most of the time, the T-shirt is not exceptional. If someone is determined to be sexist, he should at least not be obvious about it. A Korean friend of mine says this routinely, and I'm divided on whether to call him on it because of the cultural difference thingy.

#65 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 01:05 PM:

Oh, dear. Should I apologize for designing all those text-intensive t-shirts? They're pretty much guaranteed to get your chest stared at, especially if you're dealing with a slow or myopic reader.

#66 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 01:11 PM:

If the T-shirt is really the object of scrutiny, then nobody has anything to apologize for.

#67 ::: Holly Messinger ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 01:15 PM:

Re: getting hit on at Cons, the ring didn't stop it. Spreading news of my engagement doesn't stop it. Sometimes flat-out telling people I'm married does nothing but offend.

I may sound cranky, but I am merely in awe.

What's astonishing is the number of people who think they *are* going to hook up at a Con. What, because I open your soda and say nice things about your story, we're going to bed? Maybe we just have a very slutty group here in K.C. :-)

The only thing that seemed to slow it down was when I started con-going with a (platonic, same-sex, carbon-copy) friend. There has been a lot of speculation as to whether she and I are a couple, and we have done nothing to discourage it. Not recommending it as a solution for everybody, but it worked for me. I'm married, she's single, and the people who bother to get to know us find that out soon enough.

On a completely different topic, I once spent a half-hour talking to Teresa (and Patrick, and Mary Kay) at a crowded mixer and never caught onto the fact that T. was hard of hearing. *Shrug* She was nice to me, too, despite my asking silly questions about fandom.

#68 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 01:28 PM:

Could anyone associated with Noreascon comment on the likely indoor temperatures?

When I go to professional conferences, the hotel/convention center is generally chilled to meat locker temperatures, presumably for the comfort of men in suits. SF cons have been more variable - I suppose it depends on the locale. I want to know whether I should be bringing long-sleeved shirts or sundresses!

#69 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 02:37 PM:

Holly, I don't recall you saying anything particularly silly -- and I'm pretty sure I heard what you were saying.

#70 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 02:42 PM:

elise: People who can hear have no idea how much work is involved in not hearing well.

Preach it, sister.

Teresa: These days, we check out the restaurant for sound level before we let the waitress seat us. Failing that, I politely request that they allow me to bribe them to turn down the @#$%! background music.

One great addition that the San Francisco Chronicle has made to their restaurant reviews is a rating for noise (see the bottom of this page) based on decibel measurement. It's overdue and more reviewers should include this kind of rating.

#71 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 02:59 PM:

My friend Lenore is quite hard of hearing. When possible, we get a table against a wall, and she sits with her back to it. She says this helps a lot. I don't know if it's because it cuts the noise from that direction, or if it's because her hearing aids point backward and she gets the bounce from our conversation, but she does hear lots better when we manage that.

#72 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 04:50 PM:

Kate wrote:

Wear your badge where we can read it, please. I had a long conversation once with a very nice person who wore his badge on his belt on the side and to this day I have no idea who he was.

[It was at the 2002 Tor Party, a medium-high white guy with non-dark hair. You here?

Patrick and I were just comparing notes, and it turns out we had identical reactions to that: "Sounds like Tom Whitmore." Any chance he's your guy?

#73 ::: Holly Messinger ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 04:57 PM:

I'm glad you don't remember me saying anything silly, T. The first night of a Con tends to be a big blur for me, afterwards.

Somebody asked about dressing for the climate in the hotel, and I felt compelled to suggest, "layers."

The last con I attended, it was 60 degrees in the main convention area--the ballroom, art room, and three main programming rooms. This was great during the masquerade, as I was perfectly comfortable in full Victorian dress--corsets and all.

On the party floor, however, it was less great. The hotel was apparently turning off the A/C on the unused floors to save money, so all that heat went straight up to the 11th floor. It was easily 80 degrees in the halls and the consuite, even before the bodies started rolling in around 9 pm.

So, wear a tank top, and take a sweater.

#74 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 04:59 PM:

Claude, I've always wished restaurant ratings would mention noise level. It'd save a lot of trouble. It might even give restaurants the idea that some of us take that into account when we're deciding where to go.

Christopher, I don't know why it helps to sit with your back to a wall, or in a corner, but it does. The theory that it cuts out noise from that direction seems as good as any.

#75 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 05:01 PM:

TNH: sorry, I forgot about fannish defaults in that description. Short hair not obviously receding, no glasses, possibly younger than that but I'm lousy at ages. But thanks.

#76 ::: Tom Galloway ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 05:18 PM:

Re: Size of San Diego Comic-Con dealer/exhibits room. Per the Convention Center online blueprints, the aisles are 100 yards long. Comic-Con has 52 of 'em. So, just to walk down the center of each aisle, not even going side to side to look closely at stuff, is a 3 mile walk.

#77 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 05:39 PM:

tyg: the numbers are in. Comic-Con 2004 attendance was 87,000. Also, since I missed it, Chabon's keynote for the Eisners is online.

#78 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 06:05 PM:

Does Comic-Con have an all-volunteer staff?

#79 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 06:27 PM:

Mary Kay, I always quote *you* as saying:

Being a science fiction fan means never having to say, "But where would I wear that?"

Who said it first?

I once got a hall costume award for something I wore to work before I got sick.

As to badges, Capclave uses the same badges every year, with a little character by Alexis Gilliland, and you have to put your own name on. I even had someone with good printing put my name on with a wide marker last year, and it was still unreadable. I have a note in my Capclave file to bring my carved mother-of-pearl "Marilee" pin.

#80 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 06:35 PM:

Teresa - Zagat's mentions ambience sometimes. Used to be "yuppie ambience" meant "unbearably noisy," but I don't know the other codewords.

Even though the Jackson Diner has the best Indian food in New York City (a very high standard indeed), it has the ambience of a high school cafeteria. (The patrons are quieter, but the floors, walls, and tables are pretty much the same.) Therefore I don't recommend it for HOH people.

#81 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 06:36 PM:

The noise ratings in the Chron came about during the late 90's when restaurant designers often seemed to aim for a noisy environment to create a "lively, exciting" atmosphere. The quieter approach was reserved for some of the more expensive or "romantic" places. Many Bay Area restaurant startups at that time were chasing after what they saw as a young crowd with money that often dined in a large and noisy group, so they often created large barnlike designs with open kitchens that ended up sounding like a cross between a metal shop and a basketball court.

It was Farallon, an exquisite seafood restaurant, that brought the noise question to a head, so to speak. Great place, incredible food (and prices) but it was built in the upper part of a room that once housed an Elk's Club swimming pool. They retained the beautiful ceramic tile on a ceiling made up of multiple domes -- and is impossible to have a conversation under that tile without a bullhorn. When crowded, it can sound like everyone brought one along. It is now rated at four bells (75-80 db), and most people think that generous.

Readers demanded The Chron institute the noise ratings, and they remain a very popular feature. It's been a couple of years since I worked in the Bay Area, but my impression is that many of the new places are quieter. And the current Überrestaurant, the French Laundry, comes in at two bells (65-70 db). If Zagat hasn't figured out a way to do this, they should.

#82 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 06:39 PM:

Last I heard, and I may have heard wrong, Comic-Con had an all volunteer staff but some of the key volunteers got paid - it being perhaps too well contracted or complex or unrewarding to leave responsibility entirely for people with no obligation beyond honor.

Cf Comic-Con and Dragon Con "nobody goes there anymore it's too crowded"

#83 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 06:50 PM:

Lois: The sensible shoe thing - I made a mistake of wearing my broken-down, comfortable-only-around-the-house, flat-in-the-arch pseudo-Birkenstocks. Oh. God. The pain. Eclipsed only by the three minutes of pain I experienced as I wore the heels I made to go with my costume--small, strappy gold heels, glued with leaves. I got to the corner near the hostel where we stayed in SD, and broke down and headed straight back to the hostel. (I still dragged the heels along in case I wanted to wear them, but the memory of those three minutes was permanently etched into my brain, or rather, my feet.)

Sneakers. Beautiful. Even if you must be an elf in sneakers.

Kate: On the wearing of tags -- I was trying to find Ben Edlund at his booth at Comic-con last year, but since he was wearing his tag right in front of his crotch, I was kinda shy about staring to make sure that I had the right person. Eventually I just asked.

#84 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 07:07 PM:

Marilee: It was originally said by Kathleen Sloan, a Denver area filk fan. I try always to give her credit when I say it, but people are always crediting me with it.

Kate: Hey! I was at that Eurocon! Did we meet then? I mostly hung out in the bar with Jo or Morgan.

MKK

#85 ::: John M.. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 07:32 PM:

I propose, in the long tradition given a shape and a name by Dean Swift, the Matthesen-Langford Dining Cacotonal Ambience Scale (MaLaDiCtA) . . . hmm, okay, two obscure words, so it should make it into the journals without a peer review.

I am not yet decided as to the unit of measurement, though my first approximation would be the dA, standing simultaneously for Douglas Adams and his creation Disaster Area, the model for meadhall entertainers throughout the known realities.

Please, let Programming be closed to new panels.

#86 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 07:47 PM:

Clark--that sounds exactly right. Fay Gates(?), I think, was the first person to get hired as General Manager, simply due to the fact that there's enough work to keep someone occupied full time all year. I also know that John Rogers, Shel Dorf's successor as con president, still has a day job.

#87 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 07:48 PM:

Ah yes, the "how weird a place can I put my badge" crowd.

If you are playing with the assassins, it's a really, *really* bad idea to get the badge-checking stewards peeved by hiding your badge so that the other assassins can't find you, and then constantly walking in and out of badge check areas. Because after the half-dozenth time in ten minutes that the stewards on the dealer's room have been forced to ask you to show them your badge, they will start asking other people if they are assassins, and if they say yes, point you out.

Guests of honour who refuse to wear their badges are another matter. Look, I never watched the show he was in, I'd seen him in photos but not without makeup and in profile, and the other guest of honour was sitting next to me trying to distract me even though he knew I was on door guarding duty. It's not *my* fault I tried to stop the guy coming in, and I was polite about it. (I wasn't polite to my friend the other GOH, who was killing himself laughing at my embarrassment when I realised.)

#88 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 08:47 PM:

Anna -- which three Worldcons have you been to? Unless all three were Aussiecons or happened more than 30 years ago you've already been to one or more big ones (and not the big ones George R. R. Martin was talking about...). I'm on both the operating and steering committees, so you can derate my comments as you think necessary, but IMO this will be a relatively easy Worldcon to deal with; the space is very compact (which means it's reasonable for the exhibits to stay open very late -- if you're partied out you can go look at stuff, and even sit in comfort) and there is lots of decent inexpensive food a few steps away. I think some of the emphasis in the original essay is for people who've \never/ been to a convention (for whom a Worldcon can be overwhelming), and some is the reduced energy levels of those of us who have aged in fandom -- I would not advise anybody to repeat my 1976 feat (two >12-hour driving days (camping overnight), four days of sleeping from 5am to 10am, and a similar drive back), but some people will probably try to come close, especially if they're used to pulling long hours at regionals that have half the running time of a Worldcon.

Hotel temperatures: I haven't been in the buildings in the summer since N3 (1989), but there is an all-hands committee meeting there this weekend; I'll post if I find anything coherent. Layering is excellent advice, because hotels don't have the most sensitive controls.

#89 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 09:10 PM:

Mary Kay: Jo and my trip journal say we did, but I can't say that I recall this independently!

#90 ::: Tom Galloway ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2004, 11:06 PM:

Comic-Con's management structure is also complicated due to their buying two San Francisco conventions, WonderCon (general purpose, probably in the high 4 figure range attendancewise) and APE (Alternative Press Expo, probably in the 2-3K range), so they've got additional stuff to keep folk busy. I know the Programming head is also paid, for example.

The other factor which skews Comic-Con out of a purely volunteer bit is the significant number of paid rent-a-cop security types they use for things I think most sf cons use volunteers for, such as badge checking. It's certainly still significantly volunteer-run and definitely non-profit, but it also can't be held up as being that close to completely volunteer run.

#91 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 12:48 AM:

*sniff*

I wish I were going to WorldCon - unfortunately, I already had plans for DragonCon, and my budget only (barely) allows for the one con during this quarter.

But discussions of questionable sartorial choices, inappropriate chest staring and (tangentially) Ben Edlund bring me back to last year's ComiCon.

As far as getting hit on, I am certain it happens more frequently at cons than IRL, but I'm not really good at catching when someone's making a pass. And I am single, so all passes are appreciated (though be warned - if your prosthetic Klingon forehead is attached to your head by a large rubber band, your pass will be appreciated, and then laughed at. Sorry.) I tend to dress up slightly at cons, just because I can, and often don't get the opportunity to wear some of those clothes to work; many of them show a leetle more skin than I'd like co-workers to see, although by con standards, I'm pretty modest. This particular day I wore a pair of comfy yet not-unflattering jeans and a cute short sleeved blouse with a surplice top to it.

My roommate and I went to our first ComiCon last year and were rather overwhelmed with the crowds during some of the panels. Knowing that the Joss Whedon/Angel Writers panels would be among the more popular, we planned to grab our seats a couple of panels early to insure a decent line of sight. Consequently, we wound up watching a panel with the creators of the new Duck Dodgers and Teen Titans cartoons. We got to see a sneak peek of Duck Dodgers, and the whole panel was much more interesting than I had anticipated. We were right in the front row, and I caught myself leaning forward a lot - one of those subconscious listening postures. About halfway through the Duck Dodgers guys, I began to imagine I was getting a few lingering looks from some of the panelists. Since I don't generally turn heads, this was a nice ego boost, and I smiled and continued listening intently. Then I noticed the same thing during the Teen Titans panel.

I was pretty darned impressed with myself until near the end of the Teen Titans panel when I looked down and realized that half of the surplice part of my blouse had been hanging open, and I had been flashing not one person, not a panel, but two panels of *Cartoon Network* people! (well, it was sort of a PG-13 flash - I was wearing a frilly unmentionable, but still).

Later I found out that my roommate had known all along, but hadn't informed me that my parts were hanging out due to resentment. Evidently my boob had angered her.

Before Joss Whedon came out to speak, I used my neato MirrorMask pin from the Neil Gaiman presentation to tack my blouse shut, as high as it could go. Consequently, I did not flash Mr. Whedon, nor the panel of Angel writers (including one Mr. Edlund, who I think is kind of cute) but I did maintain a rather crimson hue for the rest of the day.

The Moral of the Story? Uh, I guess that would be to wear whatever you like at a con, but be aware of your clothing at all times.

Also, if you see me at DragonCon and want to check out my bod, feel free; but please inform me if you're just staring because my skirt is tucked into my undies.

#92 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 01:26 AM:

And now I am definitely going, barring accident. Just booked the plane tickets. :-))

With this being a relatively late decision when Sarah realised that she was moving to Boston two weeks before the con, neither of us has a membership yet. So we're in the market for two second-hand memberships...

#93 ::: Neil Gaiman ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 01:48 AM:

Nerdycellist -- I knew there was a good reason to hand out the Mirrormask pins...

...

I have a Jenny Holzer tee shirt, covered in small and interesting Jenny Holzer one-liners, which I tend not to wear at cons because when I do, people have entire conversations with me while staring intently at my chest.

...

I think those are all excellent suggestions (and the How to Humidify Hotel Rooms information will undoubtedly be tried at the next con I go to).

Even so, I'm very likely, especially at conventions where I'm not a Guest of Honour but am just visiting, to wear a badge in such a way that it's not that easy to read, which can, in some circumstances, buy me a little more freedom of movement than I'd have if it was obvious that I was me. On the other hand, I've declined several offers from cons of Name Tags with other people's names on, which seems somehow silly.

#94 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 03:00 AM:

I'm told Damon Knight used to go to cons wearing the name tag, "Nobody Important."

#95 ::: Tom Galloway ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 03:33 AM:

Re: Flashing panelists at Comic-Con. Something sorta close to that's been done deliberately a few times at my regular item there, with my acceptance, or at least foreknowledge.

My regular item's the Pro/Fan trivia match, of which I captain the Fan team which consists of folk from Usenet's rec.arts.comics. Back in '99, a very well-built late-teen-ager then active on r.a.c. proposed that she wear the Mike Grell designed costume of Night Girl of the Legion of Substitute Heroes to the match and sit in the front row in front of the Pros in order to distract them. Said costume basically consists of bikini pants with two separated, reasonably wide, vertical panels going up the front torso and around the neck (leaving a bare back), all in black with a silver owl's face "belt buckle" (there being no actual belt for it to buckle). She did this for a couple of years.

I stress that this was completely her idea, and approved of by her mother, who sat right next to her during the matches. And definitely all part of the general spirit of fun and good-natured trash talking going between the teams. Don't know if it actually distracted any of the Pros and affected the match, but I did ask her to choose her seat such that my view of her would be blocked by the moderator's podium during the match. :-)

#96 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 10:05 AM:

Oh, I can't resist adding another inadvertent flashing anecdote:

At a recent Philcon, I found myself seated next to a quite stunning redheaded woman. She had a ring with a big sparkly rock on her left hand, and I (in the minority if the tales here are to be believed) take that as a serious sign of unavailability. But being the way I am, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to at least make some friendly conversation, especially since she was carrying books that indicated that she took the authors on the panel seriously.

So, as the panel was ending and we both stood up to move on, I chatted a bit with her about some of the topics discussed by the panel. She was friendly enough, but beat what seemed to be an unusually hasty retreat after a few brief words. I was somewhat puzzled -- I didn't believe I'd been hitting on her, and I couldn't see why she'd have believed I was. So I assumed that she must have just had a pressing engagement elsewhere, and I headed out of the room.

It wasn't until I reached the hallway that I noticed that my fly had been wide open all this time. So much for the ol' Jimcat charm.

#97 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 11:02 AM:

Rivka & Chip,

I was in the Hynes at the beginning of July, for a law librarians' convention. You don't want bare arms in the Hynes, for sure; it was definitely a bit on the chill side. With the temperature in the mall comfortable, parts of the hotel likely to be warm, and the possibility that outside will be demonstrating what "hazy, hot, and humid" means, the layered look is what you want to shoot for.

#98 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 11:52 AM:

Neil, perhaps you could get by with a badge labelled "Ilen, a Magian?"

#99 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 01:51 PM:

You don't want bare arms in the Hynes

I assume that this is just advice, and that you don't think the Right to Bare Arms should be infringed. And devil take the Hynesmost!

#100 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 02:19 PM:

Tom Galloway: did ask her to choose her seat such that my view of her would be blocked by the moderator's podium during the match. :-)

Thus displaying a warped sense of priorities on your part. If I may be permitted to say without giving offense.

Salmon of Contrition ---> Xopher

#101 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 02:37 PM:

Sorry, Mitch, I decline to eat the Salmon of Contrition. You'll have to satirize me in verse.

#102 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 02:52 PM:

As far as the meals and sleep advice goes, a friend of mine named Bill Wilson advised following this handy acronym:

HALT

Don't let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

ie, if you suddenly want to die, see if you need to eat, sleep, call a friend, or stop running through the same argument in your head. It's worked for me many times. How many suicides could have been prevented with a cheeseburger?

#103 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 03:22 PM:

"Teresa Nielsen Hayden :::

"Oh, dear. Should I apologize for designing all those text-intensive t-shirts? They're pretty much guaranteed to get your chest stared at, especially if you're dealing with a slow or myopic reader."

No, but if you ever come out with those braille t-shirts, much bad karma will head your way :)

#104 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 03:57 PM:

Barry, she'd be too late.
http://www.notvanilla.us/

By the way, if anyone was in doubt, my comments above were intended to commiserate with and show support for those who've been stared at for reasons other than clever t-shirts.

#105 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 04:29 PM:

Sean Bosker - The HALT advice is big in the recovery movement; recovering alcoholics are advised not to let themselves get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, because any of those things might drive them to the bottle.

It's good advice for anyone with not-quite-right brain chemistry, though. I try to follow it myself. Especially the Tired part, because I know I'll get depressed otherwise. I'm jealous of people who get by on a few hours of sleep a night. I need 8.5 hours myself--I can get by with less for a couple of nights, but if I don't average eight and a half, then life just doesn't seem worth living to me. Literally.

#106 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 05:22 PM:

So which departments have melted down for this one? Inquiring minds want to know.

Since this is Boston, they probably created a virtual department in charge of meltdowns, and turned it on itself.

ConFrancisco operated on the principle that anything on the schedule wasn't going to happen as planned, so they scheduled exactly when they were going to have an earthquake. While they were at it, they also scheduled a fire and some civil unrest.

#107 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 05:30 PM:

Really Really REALLY Bad Mood Commentary Warning:

> HALT

> Don't let yourself get too Hungry,
> Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

> ie, if you suddenly want to die, see if
> you need to eat, sleep, call a friend,
> or stop running through the same argument
> in your head. It's worked for me many
> times. How many suicides could have been
> prevented with a cheeseburger?

Far as I'm concerned, for me that's utter stinking bovine excrement. Lonely.... the worst is trying to reach out to someone and getting kicked in the teeth. It is MUCH better to NOT reach out, than be rejected when miserable and lonely and depressed; and people who are Going to Tell You To Do Things for Your Own Good and won't shut up when requested to and are so utterly full of themselves and their own free advice and take it upon themselves to Interfere when told to leave the situation ALONE, are emotional vandals and one of the worst varieties of psychic vampires going.

The worst thing, as far as my emotional reactions are, is when feeling lonely to try reaching out and get blown off. That's the absolute, utter worst. Getting the hell out of there, reading a book, doing ANYTHING else that doesn't involve REJECTION by other people, or being blown off, or seeing -other- people who aren't -alone-...

Anger is better than depression. Aloneness is better than being rejected from a crowd or group or singled out for abuse and rejection. Butterflies are MUCH better company that most "people." Going walkabout or equivalent is much more emtionally securing than waiting for someone to return a reachout, or trying to rely on someone else. Being tired and staying intentionally awake is better that trying to sleep and not being able to. Doing -something- is better than brooding. Not eating enough and not having the energy to explode, is better than going off like a fireworks display....

But again, those are my personal reactions. I had more emotional abuse than I could sanely deal with as a child, and people's claims of well-meaning "We're just trying to help you" smarmy superior smugness, just infuriates me when they patronizingly apply it....

There was a Lunacon, years ago. I got upset at something, I forget what, and blew my stack. Rick Katze witnessed it. I was so upset I threw my pocketbook at the bathroom wall. My pocketbook happened to have had an ink bottle inside it. The ink bottle -broke-, and the ink started visibly leaking in the pocketbook, along with me hearing the glass smash. My- bad temper vanished into not-exactly hysterical laughter, but laughter nonetheless and defused the whole situation and evaporated the fury. Misguided mollifying attempts and people who insist on Reading a Script... I have -nothing- polite or respectful to say about, when told the script is NOT working. It's their stinking egos and their self image, and it's about -them-. To perdition with -them- and -their- scripts, if they're actually WORTH anything, they should bother to think of something other than -their- view of how OTHER people should be, in such circumstance.

On occasion I have wallowed myself out of a near-suicidal depression--not out of the depression, but out of the "if I hit a bridge abutment and died this misery would end" level of depression by such ostentatious private wallowing in self-pity and feeling miserable and worthless that I wound up laughing at myself for being so pathetic a spectacle and reaching down into such utterly ridiculous, absurd levels of wallowing.

But again, perhaps my reactions and such are extremely idiosyncratic.... plus, I still remember walking down the middle of Boylston Street, was it, in Boston during a Boskone, semi-suicidal almost daring the Boston traffic to run me over, decades ago, from emotional upset. I haven't repeated -that-. But people who cause to get emotionally threatened and upset to the levels that three people have today, and who are operating with stinking scripts...[no, it has nothing to do with anyone on-line, at all. It's all mundanes thinking/insisting they were being Helpful, and bound and determine to put THEIR stinking "I am in Control and Playing Parent at You and You Are Going to Listen to Me Child" and driving me towards the suicidal black hole edges with their emotionally abusive vicious scripts and modes of operation--not that THEY perceived themselves as minions of the pit, but that's how they came across to -me-.

#108 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 07:30 PM:

Paula, I think one underlying aspect of HALT is sound: that we're biological animals, and sometimes what we think are emotional/intellectual problems have an underlying biological cause (or at least contributor), which might actually be easier to address than the apparent emotional/logical trigger we're focused on at the time.

I don't think the *remedies* suggested for HALT are necessarily the right ones in all cases, that depends on the individual and the situation. If you can laugh at yourself, that's a prettty potent weapon against a whole host of problems.

Following a script, when the script isn't working, seems pretty foolish to me. But then, some people will grasp at all sorts of silly things when they're sufficiently uncomfortable. Remember that their script isn't really directed at you; there is something going on that makes them so uncomfortable (for whatever private reason they have) that they retreat behind the script, even though it obviously doesn't "work" for its ostensible purpose (of helping you).

Not that any of this probably helps you in any way, I know, but I can't help blathering.

#109 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 08:44 PM:

Thanks, Jeremy.

Tying it back to the Worldcon-going thread, there ae a lot of people running around at Worldcons with a whole lot of diverse backgrounds and scripts. Some can laugh at themselves and their foibles, others have particular senses of humor that are immune to some things [that's a major caveat regarding humor. What A and C think is utterly hilarious B may find extremely offsetting and get annoyed at, likewise B finds something droll that A and C don't think is at all funny. And then there was the case of years ago on GEnie, someone got very aggrieved on my behalf when I showed up in someone's GEnie Roundtable and the person wrote to me, "Come on it, take yours clothes off, get comfortably," not realizing that the reference was the to 1973 Torcon II Masquerade, where we had first met (and what I was wearing was clothing, but -sheer- clothing). Or, there are certain people who on-line I will throw virtual water balloons at, as a -friendly- gesture--the common ties there include dormitory life at either Caltech or MIT, where in some of the dorms waterfights were a way of life (the floor got so wet a mushroom sprouted between the floor and the wall on my dormfloor one of the years I was there!).

That gets back to "there are people standing around talking, who have ties that go back A Long Way, or who have common experiential background. Caltech and MIT are not the same place, but there are many resonances between them. Military experience tends to do the same thing, as does having attended certain Worldcons--they are "bonding experiences." Some of them were fun, some of them were infuriating, some were just plain not-the-common-mode [green dragons floating in the hotel turning a certain convention running fan into gibberer, for example, or the threading through the infamous art show at the Dr*g*nC*n NASFiC (not a worldcon, but something that a lot of people who didn't go to the Worldcon that year went to).

Bad conventions can give rise to good stories--not that people would, given the choice, of volunteering to be -in- the experiences, but having had them, they do make for good storytelling....

#110 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 09:06 PM:

Paula, Sean Bosker is a nice guy. Truly. Whoever it was that left you feeling this grumpy on this issue, it wasn't Sean.

Furthermore, "Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired" is actually a pretty good checklist. I'd add "Sick" -- I know someone who was ready to write off his entire regional fandom, until he realized he was coming down with a bad case of shingles.

#111 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 11:00 PM:

My personal malady to watch (being a San Diegan) is "sunlight/outdoors deprived." I've often found when I'm nearing the end of my tether at a con, that simply stepping outside and reaching open air and direct sunlight for a few minutes helps me regain my sense of humor/perspective.

Paula, on a weird sidenote, I've always feared breaking an ink bottle while travelling, so I shopped specially at the Container Store for a plastic one with a good tight cap and a bit of bounce to it. Of course, this was after I restored an antique glass-in-metal-jacket travelling inkwell, and found out it was designed for (thinner) dip pens, and my fountain pens wouldn't fit. ;-)

#112 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2004, 11:11 PM:

As for my 2 cents. At least once per con, maybe more often at worldcons, I find myself looking around and thinking, "I don't like any of these people. None of them like me. What am I doing here?" Since this isn't true that is my signal that it's time to go, alone, to my room, watch tv, read a book, stare at the ceiling, whatever, for a couple of hours. Should this feeling strike you, do whatever it is you have found works to recharge your energy and your milk of human kindness level. Extreme introvert that I am, it's being alone, it may be quite different for someone else.

MKK

#113 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 01:23 AM:

Mary Kay wrote,

"....that is my signal that it's time to go, alone, to my room, watch tv, read a book, stare at the ceiling, whatever, for a couple of hours. Should this feeling strike you, do whatever it is you have found works to recharge your energy and your milk of human kindness level."

Exactly. Different people have different emotional configurations and needs, and different needs at different times.

==============================

Teresa wrote,

" Paula, Sean Bosker is a nice guy. Truly. Whoever it was that left you feeling this grumpy on this issue, it wasn't Sean.

"Furthermore, "Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired" is actually a pretty good checklist. I'd add "Sick" -- I know someone who was ready to write off his entire regional fandom, until he realized he was coming down with a bad case of shingles."

Those five are a good list; it wasn't the list I was arguing with, it was the suggested remedies. I'd just had Major Unpleasantry with the harbringer of more to come, from people who don't respect boundaries and saw it as their job to be "helpful" in completely counterproductive, arrogant fashion. Call it a variety of Toxic Waster Helpfulness. And then I saw the post saying "when you're alone and lonely reach out." That therefore hit an extremely sensitive, sore area in me.

=======================

I wish that the people who left me that upset were here, because the events that occurred would have been unlikely to then have occurred... they would have been much more likely to have respected my triggers and my requests to cease and desist pressing them, instead of pushing even -harder- with their patronizing and condescension and assumptions that they and their ilk have automatic rights to force me to accede to their Authority and run my life to -their- ordering and attitudes.

There are control freaks in fandom, and I try to avoid being subject to them. The people who got me so upset were -not- fans, and I strongly doubt they have ever visited Making Light. [I used the term "mundane" in the earlier post with full perjorative value of tunnelvisioned and Not Our People senses. I wouldn't have minded so much if they had respected my personal space and privacy and requests to be left alone....] They have a mindset that reminds me of the mentality of kneejerk rightwing Bush supporter evangelicals [how's that for vicious characterization?]

Parts of me remain in siege mentality. Go in without my permission and the veneer of civilization and I part company. They refused to stay -out- of there and went past the limits.

#114 ::: David Cake ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 01:38 AM:

Remember to eat at least two meals and get five hours of sleep within any twenty-four-hour period.

In current Australian fandom parlance, this is often referred to as the 5-2-1 rule, with the 1 referring to 1 shower a day (also an important addition, as several people have noted).

The obligatory warning about not getting the numbers mixed up is usually delivered at the same time.

#115 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 01:50 AM:

Teresa, does adding an "S" make the acronym HALTS, SHALT (probably my choice), THALS (only for Whovians), LASHT (imbibers), or SHTAL (imbibing procrastinators)?

"In the 1850s along the Carolina coast, men known as 'mundanes' (from 'mundi,' 'of the earth') would install a false Arronax Guidance Beacon near reefs on the shore, and seaborne parties of trufans, believing it to be an approaching Worldcon, would steer onto the deadly rocks. This gave rise to the maritime expression 'shore parties.'"
-- Anecdotal History of the Seven Seas Steam Submersible Federation (4SF), 1872

#116 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 01:55 AM:

About getting hit on...

The one piece of con-going advice I think I can still offer, even having been out of active fandom as long as I have, is: Don't sneak up behind women you don't know and touch them.

This used to happen to me Very Frequently. It happened at every con I went to in the DC/Baltimore area over about two years, and no two incidents involved the same guy. Maybe this behavior was a common regional problem, because the female fannish friends I'd hang out with used to run into it a lot, too.

I'd been involved in fandom since my early teens, and when I was jailbait, and looked like jailbait, nothing untoward happened. I thought I'd found all the other refugees from my home planet, as the typical homecoming-to-fandom narratives put it. But then I turned 17, and the Stealth Gropers came out of the woodwork. It wasn't groping of the sort one associates with stories about frat parties; it was more passive-aggressive than that. Men I'd never seen before in my life would sneak up behind me while I was in conversations with other people, and then start massaging my shoulders, and then (after I had already had to defuse my assault-prevention training in order to refrain from stabbing the fellow in the gut with my keys or popping his eye out with my thumb), he'd introduce himself.

Now, I didn't object in principle to flirting, or even to offers of seduction--a girl can look her interlocutor in the eye and accept or decline--but ambush is a bit much.

Since nobody around me seemed to think there was anything wrong with this behavior, even when I objected to it out loud, I concluded (I now hope, erroneously) that it was considered acceptable among fen to ambush a woman bodily as a prelude to telling her your name or in any way indicating your presence. After two years of run-ins with what must have added up to a couple dozen Stealth Gropers, these incidents drove me to secede from fandom. It's taken me 15 years to want to go to a con more than I want to avoid being ambushed.

HapiSofi's advice has been a great reassurance that Stealth Groping may not actually be a social norm anymore--may never have been one.

#117 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 02:19 AM:

Trying to skirt and evade the Angst Zone, meanwhile, some other suggestions for Worldcon survival, if not thrivalitude:

1. Keep in mind a favorite comfort food or snack that won't unsettle your stomach, won't cause your misery otherwise, etc., and make sure that you have it or something similar available to you to snack on/as a treat for yourself to help relax.

2. Reading material--while it might sound silly to bring a book or magazine to a convention with thousands and thousands of books for sale at it and 100+ page souvenir/commemorative/whatever [I was the one who came up with the term Souvenir Book, I think, but that doesn't mean that has to be forever what it's called] book and a thick program guide, and all sorts of flyers and signs and and promo written materials and such, bringing a book or two to read en route to the convention (if able to read en route; I've never had a problem reading in most moving vehicles as a passenger, but there are people who can't) and to continue reading at the convention, for the quiet time Mary Kay referred to--again, it's a comfort and time out issue. The convention materials for some might or can provide the reader-nesting/wallowing-in-print>-to-read reading matter, but it tends to be safer to have a novel or two, or other book (could be non-fiction, or fluff, or whatever) one has some degree of trust that one wants to read to pull oneself out of the convention overexposure and into a different, more mellow mental place.

[Aside--there was the time I went to the DARPA Strategic Space Symposium. When I got home from that I not only wanted out of the world of high tech prognostication and "extrapolation on log paper" as Jeff Hecht described a certain initiative parametrically, I wanted for the rest of the week to have nothing to do with even the Industrial era. I went and readThe Dragon Waiting which had previously defeated my attempts to read it due to being much too dense and requiring a very large amount of focused attention, which I had been unable to muster. Stripped temporarily of any Industry tech attention, however, I was at last able to put the attention and energy and focus to The Dragon Waiting and be able to read it.]

3. If you can afford it, and enjoy doing so, try to arrange leisurely dining with friends at a nice restaurant for at least one meal during the convention.

4. Pacing is important. That includes not only trying to prevent yourself from running yourself ragged by running around too much too early in the convention, but can also include deliberately pushing oneself to a state of lacks-energy-to-get-overwhelmed. The latter might sound somewhat paradoxical, and sounds/can be something of a drastic solution as regards convention coping mechanisms, but as one of my college professors said, "if it works, use it."

5. Don't assume that what other people are drinking is automatically safe for you to drink, too. Alcohol tolerances vary. It's perfectly reasonable to teetotal if you're a teetotaller or or don't feel like drinking something alcoholic. Beer in the bathtub doesn't mean you -have- to drink it, there are soft drinks available, too. Check labels on beverages--Splenda/sucralose sweetened beverages, Aspartame [sp] sweetened beverages, and cane/beet/corn sweetened beverages are likely to be mixed into the bathtub, ready to surprise the unwary who don';t look at the labels first.

6. Party etiquette--try to remember which cup is yours, and try to avoid leaving it out on a table or credenza, etc. If you're done with it, dump it in the trash, or carry it away with you if you think you might want to use it again. It is not a fun thing to do going around collecting and tossing cups with liquid in them, left spread around a room, as a party worker. The same is true for paper and plastic plates and napkins. Try to find one of the people hosting the party and thank them for their hospitality. Offer to help out a bit if daring. And if someone you know is throwing a party you might ask if there's soemthing you could bring to eat or drink at it--decads ago that was fairly common at conventions. As cons got larger and larger, though, that dropped off, other than inheriting party supplies from parties from the prevous night. If sitting on sprawling on the bed, leave room for other people. There is almost always a shortage of chairs, and the beds provide people space at parties.

#118 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 02:33 AM:

Sarah Avery wrote,

"It wasn't groping of the sort one associates with stories about frat parties; it was more passive-aggressive than that. Men I'd never seen before in my life would sneak up behind me while I was in conversations with other people, and then start massaging my shoulders, and then (after I had already had to defuse my assault-prevention training in order to refrain from stabbing the felow in the gut with my keys or popping his eye out with my thumb), he'd introduce himself."

That was the era of the promiscuous backrub givers, who seemed to view that as an appropriate alternative to a more verbal introduction. I think I may have elbowed a few people in the guts, and did a lot of snarling "I did NOT give you permission [to touch me]." Most people acquainted with me knew better than to do a grope in that fashion maneuver as "greeting." And those who didn't, lacking a certain amount of couth as it were. Those who had permission to touch, and knew it, generally were aware the they needed to ask first.

I think that changing times and increasing levels of Clues, have effected some improvement over the years.

#119 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 06:09 AM:

Paula Lieberman: That was the era of the promiscuous backrub givers, who seemed to view that as an appropriate alternative to a more verbal introduction.

Oh man, I hated that. I'm not sure to which era you're referring, but there were a disconcerting number of them around in the mid-to-late 80's when I was starting to get into fandom.

Not that I have a major problem with being touched -- my own hangups tend to run the other way, and I'm reluctant to initiate physical contact unless I get engraved-invitation-level signals that it's okay. So there I'd be talking to someone at a party, and some totally random person would come up behind them and start giving them a neck rub. It made me want to scream, "Who the @#$% do you think you are?"

There are some people who actually enjoy being touched and don't mind that sort of behavior. But to assume that any random stranger is one of those is boorish in some eyes and nothing short of assault in others.

Oh, and to expand on the advice not to touch women you don't know: it's not a good idea to do the same to men, either. I've never elbowed any guts or stomped on any toes, but occasionally I've had to say "Please don't do that again" in a Very Serious Tone.

On a lighter note, David Cake notes the 5-2-1 rule, and stresses the importance of keeping the numbers straight. I believe it was on someone's con button that I first saw this piece of wisdom:

Under some circumstances, coffee can substitute for sleep.
Under some circumstances, a shower can substitute for sleep.
But under no circumstances can coffee substitute for a shower.

#120 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 07:07 AM:

I suspect that "largest amateur-run convention" used to be true, but isn't anymore. Otakon is definitely bigger, and before that, Pennsic's also bigger than Worldcon, though possibly not as large ar Otakon.

To my mind, the difference between sf cons and comic cons is that sf fans buy my buttons. My best guess is that comic fans mostly want to buy things they have a chance of reselling. Or maybe (how odd) they want to buy comics.

My advice on clothes at conventions is to bring whatever you've got that seems a little to weird or flamboyant for anywhere else. Or maybe a lot too weird or flamboyant.

I've got a friend with serious mobility problems--from what she says, handicapped access varies a lot at conventions, and sometimes it isn't good at all. On the other hand, I suspect it's much better at conventions than at most places, or the proportion of people in scooters wouldn't be so much higher than in the general population. (It's quite possible that fans are more inclined to disabilities than the general population (loving sf doesn't select for able-bodiedness, but I doubt that the proportion in the general population is *that* low. And yes, I do know that many disabilities aren't visible.)

I strongly agree that restaurants should publish decibel levels. I'm merely mediocre of hearing (problems with background noise and localization), but I also seem to have much less tolerance for loud sounds than most people. In some ways, this is fortunate--I'm glad I haven't damaged the hearing I've got with loud music--but I bounce out of restaurants that have a lot of noise even if I'm by myself. Are there really people who don't eat in restaurants where it's too quiet?

Once upon a time (in the 70s and maybe into the 80s), it was common for fans to have permanent fancy name badges. Sometimes they were custom-made by artists, but the art shows also had plenty of pre-made ones that people could add their own names to. I don't know why this went out of fashion, but maybe it's time to bring it back.

#121 ::: Sue Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 08:08 AM:

Sniff...

Wish I could be there, I miss all my Worldcon chums, the wacky parties, the strange hotels, the marvelous dinners out with friends old and new.

Have fun.

#122 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 09:20 AM:

Here's my bit of advice:

Do not WORK at a convention unless you actually WANT to.

Way back when, I was asked to support, and work for, a Worldcon. I was a fanzine fan, and -that- was really where my interest was. I was not really excited by the thought of helping organize an event for thousands of people.

But my friends asked me to help,and I said "Okay."

It was the proverbial Mother's Question: "And if your friends jump off a cliff, would you do it, too?"

Well, they did, and I did, and golly gosh ghee whiz duh, I got hurt. It was probably the worst decision I ever made in my life.

(It turned out I do not deal well with concommittee politics. Not. Well. At. All.)

(A few years later, it turned out I don't deal well with fanclub politics, either. And a few years after that, it turned out I don't deal well with fanfund politics, too. About that point, I started noticing a pattern....)

#123 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 09:46 AM:

I remember the backrub era too. I don't think it was regional, as I encountered it in several places. Haven't run into it in years.

Since I was doing a lot of sword work at the time, I had really good personal radar and often managed to move away at the last moment, but a few times I did, alas, hit people, since my fight-or-flight reflexes seem permanently set on fight (If he remembers, Mike Ford can affirm that I'm deadly with an umbrella, too).

#124 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 10:05 AM:

Mike, I'd been thinking of it as HALTS, but SHALT is better. And thank you for the explanation of "mundane"; I'd always wondered where that came from. Btw, the practice of deliberately spilling the wind from your sails when you realize you're approaching a lee shore is the origin of the word "slipsheeting".

Paula, Sarah, I too remember the era of the gormless fannish grope. There were times when it startled me so much that I'd whirl round with my elbow out and nail the perp in the solar plexus. In retrospect, I feel I should have done it oftener than I did; and harder, too.

It helped that more women came into fandom. I don't miss the ten-to-one ratio. Having more of us around made us less of a novelty. Also, I've always believed that there's something about overhearing a group of women who've holed up in the kitchen, and who are speaking in low voices periodically interrupted by gales of laughter, that naturally encourages better behavior in men.

(We're talking about sports. You knew we had to do it sometime.)

Kathy Li, I learned the "leave the hotel for at least half an hour a day" rule from a Londoner, so sunshine wasn't included in the concept; but it occurs to me that I've often pulled my head back together by taking a walk around a hotel's garden or foundation plantings. For me, that works in all lighting conditions. I think it was one night at an Arisia that I realized I had the chance of a luxury I haven't often enjoyed since childhood, which was to (safely) take a solitary nighttime walk through a dark neighborhood -- in this case the landscaped grounds of the deserted industrial park around the hotel. I can see in very dim light, and a walk like that is the next best thing to being invisible. I think I burned off several months' worth of ill humours.

Nancy L., I've also wondered about the disappearance of personalized name badges. Many of them were charming. Could be what did them in were giant flopping name badges hung 'round your neck. Those don't leave a lot of billboard space.

Bruce, is it okay for me to say that I'm in no danger of forgetting your allergy to small-group politics?

#125 ::: Priscilla Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 10:10 AM:

5{d. I too must spend time away from the con, and it gets far worse at Worldcon. These last few years, I get panic/anxiety attacks surrounded by people at parties, and need to skulk off to my room sometime around midnight - not so much because I'm exhausted, but more because I just can't deal anymore...

And while I love putting *together* the (Worldcon) program, I can't stand dealing with it (or program participants) at-con. Even if they're wonderful (as many are), the fact they're going to (probably) muck up the gorgeously symmetrical, perfectly-balanced, burnished (and theoretical!) program I've just spent the whole summer creating is too hard to deal with.

So, I get a terrific at-con staff, eat too much chocolate, and put myself on fun programs where I can be distracted by "performing" - but when I'm set loose to party at night, there's nothing left.....

(Alas.)

#126 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 10:42 AM:

Nancy, while I will freely admit to having never attended a Comic-Con (maybe when one of my comics projects actually makes it to print), but I have many friends who go in a professional capacity, and there is a great deal of programming as well as a four-color souk; a lot of fans go to see writers and artists they admire, and a lot go to hear presentations by the involved parties on What's Going to Be Happening in popular books and/or anticipated upcoming stuff. There are certainly speculators, but if you want to see comics pros, there will be more of them there than any other place (probably any three other places) you can go.

Teresa: Many SMOFs, Oldpharts, and most fen are also unaware that the once-common term "sticky quarters" is also of nautical origin, referring to those cases when a hot-bunking sailor (a term I shall not digress to explain, except to say that many landlubbers misconstrue it) overstayed his allotted berth time while polishing a slushpile manuscript. (Cf. "holystone," a word familiar to all who have used typewriter erasers.)

I could go on, but we are perilously near to sawing Courtney's wossname.

#127 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 11:13 AM:

The reach-out-and-rub-someone era was also the era of the Sensitive [one-way only...] New Age Man [only song of Christine Lavin I can stand, actually....]. One of the major [mis]interpretations of males to the concept was that it gave them free license to reach out and touch someone [phone companies, ptui!] as a way of showing how sensitive and touchy-feely they were. Ick, ick, ick!

Some of it also at conventions was monkey see monkey do behavior, there was a lot of touching and backrubbing going on, and as with the description of the kickoff quoted essay in this sequence of commentary, [I hope that I'm NOT going to put anymore prepositional phrases in this sentence--uh-oh, too late!], someone seeing a social behavior at a convention doesn't necessarily have any insight into history involved that facilitates what are sliced-crosswise-at-Worldcons-years-spread-apart-longitudinal-social-exchanges-among-old-friends.

#128 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 12:13 PM:

I encountered men sneaking up on women to give neckrubs when I was in college, in the very early 80s. I associate it with sensitive, large, bearish men named Ted, who wear oversize, shapeless cable-knit sweaters, baggy cordoruy pants (brown), and hush puppies. They have shaggy, curly hair that needed to be cut a month ago, and shaggy beards, badly in need of a trim. Their upper cheeks and necks are unshaven. They are (as Paula said), Sensitive New Age Guys. They have big, brown eyes, are not ashamed to cry in public, and always look like they're about to.

#129 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 12:17 PM:

I am impressed by the comments on this thread. I'll add that there is a distinct difference in how one is treated at some Worldcons depending upon whether one is a Program Participant or not. Green Room, Guest Liaison, reimbursement of membership fee if possible, and other factors are involved.

By Giving Panel, one is contributing to the education and entertainment of the paying attendees, and supporting the Staff in delivering that edutainment. It is also good to be a Moderator of a panel, presuming that one is good at it. There is a disparity in how one is treated if one wears a valid Press badge. Jokes aside, badges are a useful tool for rationally allocating resources. The use of badges, multitrack programming, and con hotels were all (correct me, SMOFs, if I err) brought into the Worldcon paradigm by the late Dr. Milton Rothman, who adopted the model from the APS (American Physics Society) of which he was also a member. Or so he told me.

On another (urgent) note, can someone in the know please help me decide if the email below is genuine, or Phishing? I dare not lose by 2 GB Yahoo, as I have vast amounts of data therein; yet I am very dubious about putting credit card data on a website whose ownership I do not absolutely know.


---------------
Dear jvospost2:

A few weeks ago we let you know that we encountered a billing error when we tried to renew your Yahoo! Mail Plus service. Most likely, this means that we don't have your latest billing information. This is your final notice, so please take a moment now to review your information at https://edit.secure.yahoo.com/ec/ec_edit?.src=ym&.done=http://mail.yahoo.com. After all, you don't want to lose all the great features of Mail Plus - enhanced spam protection, no graphical ads, virtually unlimited storage - 2GB, POP access and forwarding, and more - and we don't want you to experience any interruption in this valuable service.

Five days from now, we'll try one last time to renew your service. If we're still unable to charge you at that point, your service will be canceled. At that time, you will no longer have access to the features of Yahoo! Mail Plus. So don't delay; please visit https://edit.secure.yahoo.com/ec/ec_edit?.src=ym&.done=http://mail.yahoo.com and update your billing information immediately. If you have any difficulties accessing the information, visit our billing help page for assistance.

Sincerely,

Yahoo! Mail Customer Care

---------------

#130 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 12:34 PM:

Sounds like phishing to me, Jonathon, and I'm very surprised that it didn't occur to you to go to wwww.yahoo.com and search on "fraud", and/or send email to yahoo at the email address the yahoo lists for support and such, or if there's a phone number, call them.

https://edit.secure.yahoo.com/ec/ec_edit?.src=ym&.done=http://mail.yahoo.com looks like it has a redirect buried in there.... I used to be able to decipher that stuff but since I haven't needed to the past couple years, I don't remember how to.

#131 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 12:38 PM:

Teresa, I don't think it was the giant flopping neck-hung badges which overwhelmed the personal name badges--the vast majority of cons have been using standard-sized badges. If there are any artists here who were selling personal name badges back then, perhaps they've got some theories.

John M., I was being sloppy--I spend so much time in the dealers' room that I forget there are fans who don't go into the dealers' room at all.

My theory could be better phrased as "if comics fans buy things at their cons, they prefer things they can resell". Note that I'm not saying they're speculators--I wouldn't be surprised if a great many never get around to reselling much of anything, but they still could like the feeling that they *could*.

Part of this is based on my feeling that comics fans aren't all that tempermentally or intellectually different from sf fans, so they would buy buttons if they wanted that sort of thing. On the other hand, there could be a lot wrong with my initial premise since now that I think about it, the comics fans I know are also sf fans. (Compulsive theorizing is probably an occupational hazard of being in business. You can't really know what your customers are thinking and you have even less information about your non-customers, but what they do matters a lot. See also the daily stock market news: no matter what happens, there's always a theory.)

It's just a guess--the only thing I'm sure of (ok, after only two comics cons, but it was traumatic enough that I'm not doing it again) is that I sit and stare (or read) and sell a handful of buttons to other hucksters.

#132 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 12:46 PM:

The Esplanade is about a half mile north of the convention facilities, it's the southern bank on the Charles River along the Boston side of the river. Walk north on a cross-street from the Hynes or out the front of the Prudential Center and keep going until you can see the river. Find a path OVER Storrow Drive to the Esplanade, which is a greenway with trees and such along the waterside. It's wide enough in the Hatch Shell area to fit more than a half-million people for Esplanade concerts on July 4.

There's also Community Boating, which is a public sailboat pavillion where members go sailing on the Charles. I don;'t know what the provisions and rates are for visitors to go sailing from there.

The Public Gardens are east of the convention facilities, a half mile to mile away [walk east on Boylston Street to Arlington Street, the southwest corner of the Public Garden is the northeast corner of the intersection. On the other side of Charles Street from the Public Garden is Boston Common, which is full of Historical Monuments and such. I can't remember if the Make Way for Ducklings bronze duck and ducklings at on the Common or on the Public Gardens. The swanboats and a pair of swans are in the Public Garden. Some year if I'm ever feeling affluent again I will go for a ride on a swanboat again (last done when my age was in single digits.)

#133 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 01:11 PM:

The reach-out-and-rub-someone era was also the era of the Sensitive [one-way only...] New Age Man...

Paula, it could have been worse. Much worse.

The officers had to let him go. Licking a stranger's toes is rather unusual but there is really nothing criminal about it," the spokesman said.
#134 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 01:11 PM:
On another (urgent) note, can someone in the know please help me decide if the email below is genuine, or Phishing?

I went to the URL and it appears to be a genuine Yahoo secure site. I don't see anything fishy about the URL, either - phishing URLs that I have seen are given a real URL as a descriptor but have a bogus one that looks vaguely legit underneath (for example, http://www.wellsfargo.com, which is one someone in my office got recently).

They have big, brown eyes, are not ashamed to cry in public, and always look like they're about to.

And so would you, if you kept getting an elbow in your solar plexus.

#135 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 01:12 PM:

Thank you, Paula!

Yahoo is listed as one of the spoofed sources of phishing (along with AOL, Ebay, Earthlink...). A useful site is:

http://www.millersmiles.co.uk/identitytheft/oah-3.htm

and others at that domain.

Dear Worldcon Member,
Due to accounting problems with our Nigerian Worldcon bid, we ask that you click on the following link and verify your credit card number and expiration date, so that we may refund your membership fees. www.worldcon.com@wedont neednosteenkeenbadges...

Now, if anyone gets email allegedly from Making Light asking to verify a credit card number, there's something even stranger going on.

I wish I could be at this Boston Worldcon, as I've usually attended and panelled at worldcons (even overseas) for over 2 decades, but my teaching starts 23 Aug 2004, yada yada.

#136 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 01:22 PM:

Dan Blum: And so would you, if you kept getting an elbow in your solar plexus.

LOL!

Jonathan, I suggest you simply go to mail.yahoo.com and poke around there to see if you can find any warnings.

I have a Yahoo Premium account myself--their customer services pages are wicked hard to navigate.

#137 ::: Jonathan Visa Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 01:27 PM:

Boston is one of the Great American cities; once the largest English-speaking city in the world. Or so I'm told. Also ranks at or near the top in book purchases per capita (Seattle also ranks high, as does Minneapolis).

Dan Blum and Paula Lieberman,

Part of my bafflement here is that, when I securely log on to Yahoo and view the invoice for the payment for 2GB service from July 2003, it shows one digit difference in the final 4 digits of the card used then. So they might have had some problem in trying to do this year's annual rebilling, even though my real card is really in the black. I still don't know what to do. I'll look for a phone number, as suggested. Unless someone has better advice.

#138 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 02:21 PM:
Part of my bafflement here is that, when I securely log on to Yahoo and view the invoice for the payment for 2GB service from July 2003, it shows one digit difference in the final 4 digits of the card used then. So they might have had some problem in trying to do this year's annual rebilling, even though my real card is really in the black. I still don't know what to do. I'll look for a phone number, as suggested. Unless someone has better advice.

When you log in to Yahoo, isn't there an area in your profile where you can update your credit card information? If so, why not just do that? The URL in the e-mail does not wind up anywhere special, once logged in to Yahoo it just brings up a page where it explains about mail account deactivation and payment.

I also note that two credit card numbers which differ in only one digit cannot both be legitimate.

#139 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 02:44 PM:

Dan Blum:

Thank you! Problem resolved. You're right, of course, mathematically: "two credit card numbers which differ in only one digit cannot both be legitimate." That's because of the checksum digit.

But my oddity was that my bank shifted between Mastercard and Visa, and DID give me two credit card numbers which differ in only one digit at the right-hand end (although the differ in the code for which credit card corporation).

So I did reregister with the new one. Maybe this was bad luck plus paranoia, but I trust Making Light people more than credit card companies. You know about the new Class Action suit against American Express?

#140 ::: Liz Gorinsky ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 02:57 PM:

Not that I have any ulterior motives in plugging this, but to add to the growing list of people inspired by this thread: Cherie Priest has just posted "Some Thoughts Upon Sharing a Hotel Room at a Convention" at wicked_wish.livejournal.com/312678.html. I was amused, and it’s an interesting preview of what I’m about to get myself into, after having offered floor space at WorldCon to practically all of Tor’s interns. Well, whatever doesn’t kill you...

#141 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 03:01 PM:

Nancy: yes, a Comic-Con has a distinctly different flavor when your leg is chained to a table in the huckster room. But speaking as a comics fan, it's not a matter of wanting something resellable, so much as collectible. There's definitely a higher incidence of intermixed collecting and reading in comics than there is in in general SF fandom/books, with a much more excitable and artificial collectibles market than in, say, books, where collectible value mostly depends on actual rarity.

And even though I've (mostly) shaken off the collecting bug, if I'm at a comic-con, I'm there to wallow in comics: to talk comics, to meet comics pros and fans, and sample as many heretofore unknown-by-me comics titles as I can find. And as Mike Ford wrote, the pros are many, varied, and accessible as all get out at Comic-Con.

Except for Neil. To get to him, at Comic-Con these days, you gotta rush a wall of Klingons. :-D

Mike Ford wrote: ... while I will freely admit to having never attended a Comic-Con (maybe when one of my comics projects actually makes it to print)...

Well then, by my reckoning, you're long overdue: Captain Confederacy 9, 10 and 11.

#142 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 03:21 PM:

Jonathan, I tried the URL you posted, and for me it leads to a secure (https) page at yahoo.com, and once I log in it offers me the ability to re-enter my credit card.

However, if you're not certain, a safe way to deal with this would be to go to mail.yahoo.com, click on "My Account", and see if you can edit your billing info that way. Or, you could try going to billing.yahoo.com, though that doesn't work for me (I have an employee account, so it works a little differently).

Note that I'm giving this advice as a fellow fan of Making Light and a programmer. I'm not speaking for Yahoo; in my job at a Yahoo subsidiary, I have no contact with the mail or billing parts of the company.

I've noticed that phishing attempts are getting more accurate; I just got a fake citibank spam that corrected all the typos and awkward phrasings I'd noticed in a similar spam a few months back.

#143 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 03:23 PM:

Liz: Sometimes the floor is the most comfortable place.

I remember at Ratcon, I, being the most-employed one among my friends, offered crash space to a significant number of folks. We all knew each other well, so this was not a problem.

Since I was paying for the room, everyone kept offering me the bed. But it was a terrible bed--lumpy and squishy in all the wrong places, even with a bed board (which we were lucky to get, apparently, as they were an oft-requested item).

Fortunately, the hotel room had recently been redecorated (save for the mattress, apparently). The carpeting was lovely and thick, as was the bedspread. I made a pallet of the spread on the carpet, snagged a pillow and a sheet, and slept quite well, thank you, on the floor. My roommates did a lot of moaning about backache that weekend . . . .

Just something to keep in mind. If you're paying for the room, you should have the most comfortable sleeping space, wherever that happens to be for _you_.

#144 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 03:36 PM:

One other little point about convention etiquette, referring to those all-important great big bowls of chips, pretzels, popcorn, and/or candy in the consuite: if you're going to stick your hand into the bowl, you should make sure your hand is clean first...

#145 ::: Liz Gorinsky ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 03:44 PM:

> Just something to keep in mind. If you're paying
> for the room, you should have the most comfortable
> sleeping space, wherever that happens to be for
> _you_.

This one is on my friend's credit card, but past experience has shown me that--regardless of actual accommodations--sleeping on the floor was sometimes more "comfortable" than the guilt I’d have to endure if I made *other* people sleep on the floor. We’ll see how my disposition changes as I get older and crankier, but for now I’m happiest when other people are happy.

#146 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 04:14 PM:

I've been hit on at cons. The most unusual one was the guy who asked my boyfriend, who was standing right there, if he could hit on me. What he was expecting, I don't know...

I have had clothing problems. I wore a one shoulder top with a tie waist to a con dance and half way through, by BF started dancing very close and informed me that my top had slid around! And no, I wasn't wearing anything under the top. Luckily, it was dark.

#147 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 04:32 PM:

Sometimes the floor is the most comfortable place.

One of the best sleeping places I ever had at a con was on the floor of a closet in the Rye Town Hilton. The closets are carpeted, and at least seven feet wide by three feet deep. The sliding doors can be slid from within, blocking out some noise, most light, and all wandering feet. Assuming no one has to get up for a late night change of clothes, it's an ideal crashing spot.

Just another of the many charms of the "Escher Hilton".

#148 ::: Damien Neil ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 04:53 PM:

Nancy - I think the lack of button sales at comic cons may have something to do with fannish identity. SF fans often identify themselves (in part) as being quirky, off-beat, and whimsical. Buttons fit this image well. Comic fans are more likely to identify themselves as being interested in comics--they'll buy comics, videos, posters, character models, and the like.

Given that people usually go to conventions to be fannish (in whatever sense of "fannish" applies to their culture), it doesn't surprise me that comic fans don't buy many buttons at comic conventions--the buttons aren't part of their fannish identiy.

#149 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 07:07 PM:

What kind of buttons are we talking about? Comic fans buy and sell buttons--the buttons sold better than anything else at my friends' booth, ironically. I bought about seven or eight different buttons at Comic-con.

I wasn't aware that the button line was perceived as drawn so stringently across fannish occupations. :)

#150 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 07:09 PM:

On multi-track panel programming at cons, the first in my memory was SFCon 70, as both Baycon and St. Louiscon had single panel tracks. SFCon 70 was done by Jerry Jacks, and the programming put together by Quinn Yarbro. From that point on, it became pretty close to ubiquitous quite quickly.

#151 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 09:36 PM:

Kathy, you are of course embarrassingly right. There have just been a number of projects since (mostly for the Big Guys) that got killed before completion (once, literally weeks before scheduled ship) that I'm starting to think that I have my own personal Guardian of Oa making sure I Never Do It Again. (Maybe if the main character had a yellow costume. . . . "The Masked Sou'wester!" "Projuiceo, the Living Grapefruit!" "John Galliano!" No, wait. . . .)

There are still a coupla things in the aether. More news if it happens.

#152 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2004, 09:58 PM:

Damn. How frustrating. But re: "coupla things"-- Ooo! Ooo! Cool!! Yes, please to tell if/when it happens! (Yellow sounds like a wise precaution. Maybe also a daily oath.)

#153 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 03:03 AM:

The slimescum of the net can be -extremely- bold-- there was a fake of an official Commonwealth of Massachusetts website a few months ago, for example, that was scamming people! It takes a LOT of brazeness essay and implement that kind of scam!

#154 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 03:39 AM:

And allofasudden the notion of John Galliano as a superhero starts to, if not make sense, at least acquire charm:

On sidewalk broad and runway long,
The bias cut is bold and strong;
Let those who worship haute couture
Beware my label! It's Di . . . er . . .

And no, Tom Ford is not my secret identity. Not that I'd necessarily mind that.

#155 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 08:51 AM:

Bruce, is it okay for me to say that I'm in no danger of forgetting your allergy to small-group politics?


Well, I -did- expend a lot of energy making sure you and others wouldn't.... But five years in therapy and a couple of years attending 12-step meetings seem to have helped a bit. If nothing else, I've learned a lot of avoidance techniques.

(This is one of the reasons I'm so furious with the Bush administration. They've brought fan-quality politics to national government, and I CAN'T just turn my back and walk away.)

#156 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 09:59 AM:

Piscusfiche, I sell buttons with funny sayings--"Power corrupts. Absolute power is sort of neat." and that sort of thing. My experiences selling at comics conventions are quite a few years ago. What sort of buttons do comics fans buy?

Very few of my buttons have anything to do with sf. Once upon a time, there were more about sf movies, but that's mostly faded out.

Bruce, if the subject isn't too painful, could you expand on how national politics have come to resemble fan politics?

Damien, you might well have a point about the identity thing. There may be something similar involved with why my buttons did quite well at the Unitarian General Assembly (big national convention) last year.

#157 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 12:13 PM:

Be nice to the volunteers. They're not getting paid

Oh yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! YES!!

ahem.

I would add to this that if you should happen to see a volunteer, identified by their brightly coloured volunteer badge, in the corridor, or in a panel, or chilling out in a quiet corner, or in the bathroom, you might consider thinking twice, thrice, and maybe a few other times, about whether you really want to inform them that you're unhappy with some aspect (or even all aspects) of the con.

Chances are, this person's off duty. Chances are, if your complaint is about an organizational problem, they've heard it before, like umpty-gazillion-google times in the past hour or so, and they were taking a little bit of time ot themselves before heading back into the fray to Deal With It. Chances are they can't fix it right now. If your complaint is of the "Ohmighu there's something gone very wrong in the ladies' room!", then yes, there's a chance they may not have heard this a umpty-gazillion-google times yet, and they may be able to find someone to deal with whatever the problem is. But if you're annoyed that the programme books weren't available, or that the parking lot was too far from the con site, or that the Information Desk was closed when you went there at 08h00, then some random volunteer in the corridor isn't going to be able to do much more than apologise on behalf of the con that the con is not perfect. Is this going to improve anyone's day?

Even if you, personally, have run the con before, done a better job, and know what would have made this particular con run better, please don't take it upon yourself to inform the front-line volunteers at the con (unless you have a suggestion that will make things better right now, and are willing to roll up your sleeves and help them.) However unimpressed you may be with something, chances are you're having a better time than the volunteer who as heard about the missing programme books umpty-gazillion-google times today, might well have been up until the wee small hours every night in the three weeks before the con, getting their particular responsiblity into something like shape, and really, really, really needed that time away from their volunteer duties to remember why they volunteered in the first place.

Please don't make them cry. In fact, don't make anyone cry, if you can avoid it.

Having made them cry, do not attempt to hug them afterwards. Hugging a crying stranger may make you feel better, but it probaby won't do much for the stranger, especially if you're the person who already battered away at their defenses until they broke. Apologise. Tell them you've behaved churlishly. Believe it. And let them go away and do what they need to do to compose themselves.

Be nice to the volunteers. They're not getting paid.

#158 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 12:20 PM:

jennie:

This, to some extent, depends on the volunteer and the situation, as you mention in relation to restroom problems.

Some of us, even off-duty officially, actually like to hear what is causing problems for the average attendee -- and it's surprising how often we can fix a current problem. Historical problems (like, the program books were late but they're here now and everyone who needed one has gotten one but I'm still pissed I had to wait in line again!!!) we can't solve: anything with a current component (The program books were late: do you know if they're here now?) we often can.

I appreciate your desire to protect low-level volunteers who often won't know about this kind of thing, but please don't make this an absolute rule!

#159 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 12:37 PM:

Be nice to the volunteers. They're not getting paid.

And do not assume that the volunteers are even getting "paid" with free membership. They may well not be.

I mention this because I have been the steward sitting in the stewards-only row of seats at the front listening to the person behind me complaining about the best seats being reserved for the stewards. She was incensed that we should be getting the perk of the best seats when we were already getting free memberships and other freebies.

We weren't. We weren't getting free membership, we weren't getting free munchies, we weren't getting free crash space. The only payment we were getting was a free teeshirt if we worked most of the con. It was a relatively small con and couldn't afford anything more. Nobody, including the concom, got free membership for working on the con. The reserved seats were for the very practical reason that a steward would otherwise miss not just the time slot they were working, but effectively miss the following time slot as well, because by the time they'd handed over and got to a panel they were interested in, all the seats might be gone.

It apparently hadn't occurred to this person that anyone could possibly volunteer as a steward unless they were getting benefits in return. It apparently hadn't occurred to her that the reserved seats were to ensure that the volunteers who were helping to give her a good time had a sporting chance at actually seeing a bit of the con.

It's a good thing this was relatively early on, before sleep deprivation had got the better of my temper. Gophers have sharp teeth, and sometimes they bite.

#160 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 01:27 PM:

Tom,

This is part of why I phrased my request as "think twice about...". Asking someone a question is usually cool --- even if they're not the person who knows the answer, they might be able to point you in the right direction ("Sorry, I dunno about the programme books; I've been helping replenishing the stocks in the ConSuite for the past two hours...maybe you should check at the Information Desk? Oh, you mean you have one? Great---when I go back to the ConSuite, I'll let them know there, too.") Using that person as the emotional punching bag for your own annoyance with the organization is not cool.

#161 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 04:35 PM:

In damon knight's review of "All Our Yesterdays," he discusses the account of Thirties fan politics, and notes that it was, quote, "European power politics in a hatbox;" the same patterns of shifting alliances, petty feuds, individual group Builders, who might turn Wreckers if their wills were frustrated, was not significantly different in form from interwar Europe, except that the fans had no nations to mobilize.

And those European leaders weren't substantially different from those who started the Thirty Years' War, or the long grisly catfights of the Renaissance, or the Hundred Years War, or . . . well, you know, Cain probably thought he could run a much better Hugo banquet than Abel.

#162 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 05:29 PM:

John M. Ford:

I thought that Cain was Con Chair of the Spawn of Satan Convention referred to earlier on another thread...

---

On a more positive note, I may have mentioned this in earlier threads long ago but, to me, the most significant thing that ever happened at a WorldCon was -- I met the woman who is now my wife. Melbourne, Australia. Was that 19 years ago? It was at the pro party in the penthouse of the Sothern Cross Hotel, the night before the con officially opened. This does not, however, give people permission to hit on anyone at any con, as other comments on this thread attest.

On the other hand, I had just shaken hands in Glasgow with my long-time friend John Brunner to represent him as a Film/TV/Multimedia agent; had dinner with him; and table-hopped him to another dinner with other writers, a couple of hours before his fatal stroke. So far as I know, nobody else has ever died at a WorldCon. May this kind of Last Supper never happen again.

#163 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2004, 08:35 PM:

Dave Minch(?), someone I knew slightly from an apa, died at the Denver worldcon. He had some non-trivial medical problems, including diabetes. Here's the story as I heard it: he was commemorating his divorce by getting drunk, not a good idea if you're diabetic, and worse because the air was thin and polluted. Worse yet, he'd trained his friends to let him sleep it off when he went into a coma. By the time the medics got to him, it was too late.

#164 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2004, 09:29 AM:

Echoing Tom here. Something like "the program books haven't arrived" tends to be something that spreads with lightspeed. But, "Room 205 the panelists are pouring water all over the table" or "Room 403 is locked and there are 75 people who are getting annoyed that the program item scheduled in there can't go forward" or "My badge keeps falling off because the fastener is defective" are issues that the committiee and staff might not be aware of.

Particularly, the people running the convention might be finding out that the -some- badges are falling off, but not that any particular person has that problem.

"My badge keeps falling off, how do I get a replacement clip?" is a perfectly reasonable question to ask Information. "Room 308 is locked" is reasonable to tell someone with a ribbon on who's not obviously already on a mission."

To a degree, wearing a committee or staff ribbon part of the territory that comes with it is a willingness to help deal with issues and a willingness to be informed when someone notices a problem--problems that nobody reports, tend to not get addressed.

Also, it's a metric, sometimes, of whether something gets noticed or not. That is, there are usually several near-disasters at any Worldcon that only the people dealing with/staff-and-committee-know-about, e.g., "the Souvenir books that almost got sent to the wrong state",[example, I don;t know that that one has actually happened], the art show hangings that X spotted starting to collapse and rounded up to hold up and reinforce to prevent the collapse, CHip noticing a pro moving crew who where about to haul a palette load off somewhere unknown instead of getting it to a truck heading back to Boston, etc. If the average congoer isn't noticing/reporting on such things, then the chances are that the average congoer didn't notice/find out.

A lot of the time the questions are like "Do you know where X is, I'm having a problem with [something] and they were supposed to be helping me fix it" or "who do I see about?" -- second thought, I'm thinking of particularity, where that's what -I- often get asked, because a lot of people know me and figure that I have more clues about who the proper person to get to and where that person is or what procedures are for addressing particular situations, than they do, because they know that I work on conventions and know a lot of other people....

Years ago at a Chicon, I was party hopping in the main hotel, and stopped in the lobby mezzaine bar and said hi to people there, including Dave Hartwell. I said something about knowing too many people, David said, "Paula, you know a thousand people here."

"No, I only knew a few hundred," I replied.

"No, you know a thousand," he reiterated.

I thought about it for a minute, then said, "Oh shit, you're right."
or such

#165 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2004, 09:32 AM:

That "or such" is extraneous at the end of my last post, it was a couple words that I failed to remove, left orphaned.

#166 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2004, 10:51 AM:

Well, yeah, but the sort of thing Jennie is talking about is gratuitous bitching at someone who is -- by virtue of being a volunteer -- effectively socially defenseless. They can't tell someone who needs to be told to fuck off which hole to jump down.

There's a marked sharp distinction of spirit between "hey, did you know?" -- even when it has good odds of being a redundant inquiry -- and "oh, so you're one of the incompetents running this -- I want to make sure you know exactly how incompetent you are".

The former is part of keeping the boat moving; it might be no better than saying 'the bailing can is over there', but it's part of the helpful spirit, all the same.

The later starts at not getting out of the way of the oar looms and drifts off into going over to kick resting rowers in the kidneys as a means of complaining that you don't like the chop in the bay.

#167 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2004, 11:05 AM:

"They can't tell someone who needs to be told to fuck off which hole to jump down."

I'm trying to decide whether or not this is a mixed metaphor. Not that I'm entirely sure I want to know, and a PowerPoint explanation would only confuse the issue, if that's not a pleonasm.

#168 ::: Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2004, 11:50 AM:

There's some public greenery closer to the Noreascon venue than the Public Garden, for those in need. A block or two south of the con venue, there's a nice ribbon park (which starts across the street from Back Bay Station, and goes roughly southwest, hitting Mass Ave. between Huntington and Columbus). On the north side, before you get to the Esplanade, you run into Commonwealth Avenue, which has a nice planted mall down the center, and lots of greenery in front of the buildings on either side. (This was actually deliberately planned as Boston's answer to the Boulevards of Paris).

Even closer, abutting the venue, there are the grounds for the Christian Science mother church, which don't have all that much greenery (mostly of the trees-stuffed-in-holes-in-concrete variety), but do have a nice reflecting pool and a fountain which may or may not be running. Depending on your taste, that may also be a good spot for a quiet moment in the sun...

#169 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2004, 11:51 AM:

Mike -

I believe the point of confusion may stem from the specificity with which the state "told to fuck off" may be understood to be communicated.

There is certainly a strict construction, in which only a very narrow range of frankly Saxon robust language might be said to suffice; there is also a rather looser construction, toward which my untidy mind is inclined, in which "Visitez une volcan, si-vous-plait", "May your testicles be gnawed off by miniature rodents possessed of delicate dentition and deliberate habits of mastication", and "Beelzebub bugger you blind with a bale of basil" would all suffice to convey the particular sentiment.

In the case above, I believe I might have had a diverse selection of infernal fates in mind.

#170 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2004, 09:04 PM:

Actually, there's an open atrium or whatever it's called in the center of the Prudential Center complex, called "the South Garden" or some such, with water features and plants and flowers and seats and such, that the glass doors to are across from the Prudential Tower entry [the Prudential Building has an internal entrance in the Prudential Center complex.... I'm rambling, sigh. -- anyway -- go from the Sheraton or Hynes into the Prudential Center complex -- from the Sheraton bank of north elevators, on the second floor of the hotel, head east on the corridor and got past the Back Bay and other function rooms, straight out through the glass doors in the glass wall separating the Sheraton from the Pru Center. Go up the stair or ramp, and continue east [there are some jags] past the Marche Movenpick [the -smaller- Marche Movenpick] and the Au Bon Pain which are on the right, past the corridor heading south, and somewhere on the right (it may be past some more stuff) is the entrance into the garden.

[Even thought I walked past there twice today and several times this weekend, I don;'t remember the facility details...]

It's before the corridor heading north that the Food Court is on. [The corridor the Food Court is on, goes all the way out to front Boylston Street, to get to Boylston Street take the elevator or escalator down. The Food Court is at the very front of the building, on the left, after a bunch of stores and kiosks, and there are doors from the food court, which has Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, barbecue, pizza, etc. fast food out into a large outdoor area having tables and chairs and umbrellas, which the western side of is the unbroken by entry eastern exterior wall of the Hynes. It's a rather impressive architectural massive stairway feature [think linear stadium raking] down and forward to Boylston Street.

The Hynes interior entrance to the Pru Center is in the low dozens of meters east of the Sheraton entrance into the Pru Center.

The reason why the garden didn't really occur to me earlier is that Boskone is in the winter and in the winter such types of gardens tend to not be open, and not have flowing water, blooming plants, etc.

#171 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2004, 10:55 PM:

Be nice to the volunteers. They're not getting paid

Oh yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! YES!!

I'll have what she's having.

Also, don't assume that the con owes you a living for the admission price.

In the Internet room at Torcon 3, I was seated next to someone complaining about the slowness of the computers. In an attempt to lighten the mood, I said, "What do you expect for free Internet access?"

The guy next to me responded, "I paid $245 [or whatever] to be here, I don't consider this free."

What I thought: "Excuse me, all of these computers were donated, the network connections were set up by volunteer labor, and the crazy-in-a-good-way guy running this room doesn't seem to have slept in the past three days. Who says you get the world on a plate for 245 loonies?"

What I said: "It's not worth debating you on this."

Murmurs of agreement from the neighboring terminals.

#172 ::: eriknelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2004, 11:29 PM:

Since I live nearby and budget is limited, I am thinking of going for just one day. Any thoughts on which day is better? (I realize I can't eat the whole smorgasbord no matter which day I pick, or even if I attended every day of the convention)

#173 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2004, 11:40 PM:

nerdycellist: I wish I were going to WorldCon - unfortunately, I already had plans for DragonCon, and my budget only (barely) allows for the one con during this quarter.

Is that a money choice? The last I heard, Dragoncon had moved to Labor Day weekend; a lot of people are assuming this has \some/ effect on membership (IIRC, substantially lower than N3 at this point), but how much is the ]competition[ and how much is {the economy, aging, having kids, work obligations, ...} is anyone's guess.

Teresa: I don't miss the ten-to-one ratio.

I wouldn't have thought you were around for the literal 10:1 ratio; I did a rough count of the names in the Discon 2 (1974) program book and estimated 3:1. But East Coast proportions probably weren't the same as the Southwest. (Yes, they call it "Worldcon", but there's a substantial regionalism in the attendance -- some people go practically every year, some only when it's close enough to fit their definition of cheap.)

JvP: The use of badges, multitrack programming, and con hotels were all (correct me, SMOFs, if I err) brought into the Worldcon paradigm by the late Dr. Milton Rothman

"I find that almost as hard to swallow as this potage St. Germain."

The first Worldcon (NYC, 1939) and IMO the first convention (UK, 1937) were unlikely to have had management input from Rothman, who was more-or-less a Philadelphian (says my wife the ex-Philadelphian). The Worldcon definitely used a hotel; I'm blanking on whether the UK convention used a hotel as such or a random hall.

And a (not very useful) comment on the in-house weather: the Sheraton definitely turned up the A/C too far in the space we were in -- but that is suit space (5th-floor conference) that IIRC N4 won't use. (Most of the convention won't fit in it.) The main function space seemed OK, but it was occupied by fetish folk, who may have asked the hotel to go light on the A/C; I doubt shivering bondage models enhance sales. I didn't notice the Hynes being cold, but it was in standby mode -- there were no live conventions running during our visits.

#174 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 12:31 AM:

erik: "Which day" depends on what it is you want to see.The Hugo Ceremony is Saturday, the Masquerade is Sunday. If neither of those are decisive, there's a draft schedule at noreascon.org; it lists only panel titles/short descriptions, not who's on them. The participants have been sent their individual (tentative) schedules, but I don't think there is a place, right now, where you can identify when specific people will be doing things, and there probably won't be until the Pocket Program is made final, which will be pretty close to Zero Hour (this is not a criticism of Programming, just the way things usually work).

If I had to offer an opinion, it'd be Saturday; there will be a full slate of stuff, and people will have gotten fully into Convention Mode, but will be less fatigued than post-Hugo (and post-post-Hugo parties)

#175 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 01:31 AM:

Ah, but Mike, there are other considerations! The convention is in Boston's Back Bay. On-street parking, for those who have the temerity to brave the Boston traffic, and drive around looking for a parking place, is free on Sundays and holidays, and if arriving well before noon on Sunday there is a high likelihood of actually -finding- parking close by the Hynes and Sheraton. I was rather later getting there Sunday for a Noreascon-=related open meeting, and thus wound up driving in circles a few times, before spotting a legal parking space (not even a metered one, at that!) on Boylston Street a few hundred feet eastward of the entrance to the Hynes.

I strongly recommend against people from out of the area going cruising about Boston looking for on-street parking. Were my employment status different I would have been less uninclined to have driven into the Prudential parking or parked out at Alewife and taken the subway in (something I did at Boskone last year or some such, as opposed to cruising around. Had I left when I had been intending to, it would have been faster/easier to find on-street parking--the stores tend to open late on Sunday, and of course the law offices, college classes, architects's offices, etc., mostly aren't open for business on Sundays.

The situation on other days, the metered parking the meter hours run from something like 8 AM or maybe even earlier, to either 6 PM or 8 PM (depending on the meter) with the meter running out after usually a maximum of two hours, and often a maximum of 30 minutes, at a quarter a quarter of an hour. That's still less than paying most of the garages, particularly if sticking around past 8 PM or 6 PM.

Cars do provide more convenience, if one can deal with driving in the area and the vicissitudes of finding a place to park and payment if applicable--the subway and buses are not a 24 hour a day operation, they shut down at some wee small hour of the morning for several hours. Sundays have a much lighter mass transit schedule, that Saturdays or weekdays. There are still people around, particularly, the area has tens of thousands of residents, even not including the 100,000+ college students matriculating within a few blocks (Berklee College of Music is just west of the Hynes, Northeastern Univerity is a few blocks south west on along Huntingdown Avenue, Newbury College is north of the Hynes, Wheelock College is over in the Fens region, BU is a mile or maybe less to the west, there's Emerson College, Wentworth, Simmons, Suffolk University, Massachusetts College of Art, and others quite nearby) who will be coming to/back to school with the arrival of Labor Day. But, there are -fewer- of them on Sunday. Boston's population goes up by 200 percent during the work week business hours, and in the center of the Prudential Center there are office buildings habituated by Suits during the work week.

#176 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 01:58 AM:

CHip:

This link gives some context, but neither proves nor disproves my recollection of Dr. Rothman's story:

Founders of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society: Milton Rothman (1919-2001)

"... In 1936, Milt chaired the first science fiction convention, the first Philcon, which was held in the living room of his father's house in Philadelphia. For the occasion Milt invited his friend, Donald A. Wollheim, to come down from New York with a number of other New York fans, including Frederik Pohl (the secretary of the first Philcon) and David Kyle."

"He followed these historic firsts by chairing the two Philadelphia Worldcons, those held in 1947 and 1953. At the latter of these, the first Hugo Awards were presented...."

Since Fred Pohl is a Fellow of AAAS and was there at the time, perhaps someone should ask him.

My own blog at LiveJournal, magicdragon2, has now been unsuspended after 3 weeks in limbo due to an alleged violation by an anonymous posting, now deleted. But I've not added any new content. Sorry if I've been bogarting the banwidth at Making Light in the interim.

#177 ::: Priscilla ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 09:58 AM:

An addendum to a comment further up line.
Noreascon will be dumping the schedule to the web (names included) in about a week.

After that we'll have updates and corrections. But, at this point (presuming I can type in the ream or so of changes fast enough), we're ready to go public.

There is probably too much program. Just wanna say, I know. Not too sure I'm sorry, but I *do* know....

#178 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 10:17 AM:

Noreascon will be dumping the schedule to the web (names included) in about a week.

Awesome, thanks!

#179 ::: Kat Feete ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 10:41 AM:

On getting hit on at cons:

Torcon last year was my first Worldcon ever, and it was brilliant, in spite of me loosing my wallet. I probably got hit on several times (I'm not good at noticing) but the one that stands out happened on Saturday night. I was going into a party when a hand snaked out from the crowd and grabbed me by the arm.

"I've seen you around and I just have to say - that's a really fantastic tattoo."

As background I should say that I'd lost my wallet that afternoon, hadn't eaten for 24 hours, and had in fact been going to the party so I could steal food off the tables. I was alone at the con and very socially awkward and going into serious people overload, and I had just found out that I'd somehow accidentally crashed the VIP seating at the Hugos and was suffering from residual guilt.

Therefore, insert "glazed look of panic and incoherent mumbling" as my response wherever necessary.

"It's a very beautiful tattoo," he reassured me, hauling me in. He then turned to the guy standing next to him. "Now you see," he said in a lecturing tone, "this is how you hit on women. If the intial stage goes well you can move on to some light stroking." He began rubbing my neck.

My co-victim (who was not penniless, but was, as I found out later, suffering from a cold) assumed a glazed look of panic strikingly similar to my own, although I was too busy panicking to do more than notice in passing.

"Now, if this is acceptable, she will smile at you and purr," my attemped seducer said, still stroking my neck. I smiled at him in complete terror, but, since it was obvious I wasn't going to purr, he reached out and started stroking the neck of another girl in the party (I should mention there were quite a lot of people standing around and laughing at all this). She purred happily. "If, on the other hand, she stiffens up," he continued, removing his hand from my neck, "your attentions are not welcome. Move on gracefully."

He then turned back to me and asked who I was and where I was from, and I stammered out answers, and after a few minutes me and my co-victim were recovered enough to carry on normal conversation with him and each other. After a while he took off with another girl, but I hung around and kept talking.

As for the rest of the night... suffice to say that I caught a cold.

The moral of the story is, I suppose, that hitting on girls may work sometimes, but it's more likely to produce unexpected results and funny stories.

#180 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 10:51 AM:

Kat: Ewww. What a creepazoid. Glad it came out well for you, but such people should be suppressed by force IMO.

#181 ::: Kat Feete ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 11:31 AM:

Xopher: Ewww. What a creepazoid.

Oh dear no - I fear I've misrepresented him. He did give me an uncomfortable five minutes or so, but what impressed me the most was that he had no ego involved in the thing at all. If I'd taken him up on the offer he'd have been thrilled, but when I didn't he wasn't hurt, he wasn't offended, he just pulled away the minute he realized I was truly uncomfortable and cheerfully started conversing with me instead. It was bizarre, but mostly because I've known so few guys who made turning them down so comfortable for me.

He's now a good friend of mine and tells the above story at every opportunity. *grin*

#182 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 11:35 AM:

Kat: ego or no, friends or no, I still would not think it polite to physically grab someone, rub their neck, and use them as a demonstration for "how to hit on girls" without their explicit prior permission.

I'm glad it worked out for you. People should not try this on me or a large number of other people of my acquaintance.

#183 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 11:36 AM:

Oh, wow. I really DID misinterpret you, then. Just to be clear, it was his impersonal narration of technique - while employing said technique on you - that creeped me out. It must have been less offensive than it sounded.

#184 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 12:04 PM:

Chip: Was that a "What's Up, Doc?" reference or am I thinking of something else?

#185 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 12:16 PM:

Nancy: Re - The buttons: Comic fans and artists buy and sell buttons with their characters, or strip catch phrases on them. (Ditto bumper stickers and shirts.) (As I noted above, Gandalf for President was extremely popular.) It's a good way to get publicity for your comic, because if you design something really catchy, people will start asking your button wearers where they found it.

We began selling the buttons at our booth, because kids would come by, see the free buttons, and take a handful without even looking at the comic or talking to us. Needless to say, we ran through the first day's button hoard really quickly. So we put them up for 50c. a piece, thinking nobody would want to pay for them and that we'd give 'em to folks who bought the book, and lo, people just started paying us for 'em. (We had one girl who traded us advertising space on her shirt for a button--so really we got two advert deals out of this, the button and the safety pinned note.)

#186 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 01:04 PM:

Told a science fiction fan, student of Joe Haldeman's writing class, and software freelancer I know, from Boston, about the Worldcon. he hadn't heard. How odd -- there are still people in the world who have never been to a World Con. I think that they were all at Comic-Con.

Buttons. The first time I voted in a national election was in 1968, that crazy year. See also Joe Haldeman's fine novel "1968."

I wore a button into the polling place that read: "stamp out reality."

An officer made me remove it. "No electioneering in this place, by law," he said.

I wasn't sure that either major political party represented reality...

Math warning:

Later today it will be 8/09/2004/12:11
concatenate those digits and find
80920041211 is prime

The a little later it will be 8/09/2004/1:21:17
809200412117 = 342451 x 2362967 which is semiprime

Then 8/09/2004/12:12:13
8092004121213 = 3 x 2697334707071 (semiprime)

That's what having only 4 hours of sleep will do: turn you into the protagonist of the film "pi." Or the episode of "The Simpsons" with Stephen Hawking, where the brainy characters take over the town and switch to a digital clock and calendar (good joke about the French Revolution there).

#187 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 01:45 PM:

Far be it from me to correct your use of math terms, JvP, but you mean decimal, right? Base 10 clock etc? (Calendars are pretty didge to start with, eh?)

#188 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 02:46 PM:

The last I heard, Dragoncon had moved to Labor Day weekend;

True.

a lot of people are assuming this has \some/ effect on membership

Not me.

(IIRC, substantially lower than N3 at this point)

Almost certainly false at this moment (not having current preregistration number for either conventions as of right now, I cannot declare that to be false.)

Barring terrorist acts, DragonCon 2004 will have more people that Noreascons 1-3 put together (14,406, using the numbers from nesfa.org) and may well have more than Noreascons 1-4. (If N4 is under 5596 members, then N1-4 will be under 20K)

The last three years (since moving to Labor Day Weekend and adding the Marriot Marquis to the hotel mix,) DragonCon has reported over 20,000 bodies on site, counting as we count -- each individual who shows up counts as one body.

If the move to Labor Day weekend has affected any convention, it has been the Worldcon, not DragonCon, but there's not enough data to prove that conclusively, and the fact that DragonCon stays in Atlanta and the Worldcon moves makes it that much harder to compare.

but how much is the ]competition[ and how much is {the economy, aging, having kids, work obligations, ...} is anyone's guess.

Yes. It seems that the aging of fandom is notable in one sense -- most of the younger set goes to DragonCon.

You can argue that numbers aren't important -- I'd probably agree with you. But if you argue that Worldcon is hurting DragonCon, I'd wonder if the people at DragonCon would even bother to care.

#189 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 02:55 PM:

On the outer fringe of fiction about scientists and engineers, which includes classics such as the first and fairly autobiographical "Glide Path" by Arthur C. Clarke, there is:
SEX and ROCKETS: The Occult World of Jack Parsons, by "John Carter" and Robert Anton Wilson [Venice, CA: Feral House, 1999]. Stranger than fiction, that one!

Xopher:

You're right on target, again. Thanks! I am rather sleepless to ensure that I'd be able to drive my son to the orthodontist today on the way to his university, then meet my wife for lunch at ours. While waiting, I was calculating things such as factorizing 11-dimensional centered cube numbers:

95^11 + (95+1)^11
= 12070394228283009648671
= 191 x 63195781299911045281 Semiprime

and then noticing that 11 and 191 were palindromes, and then metanoticing that I was seeing patterns that didn't really mean much of anything... hence my digital discombobulation.

#190 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 03:08 PM:

Apologies, Priscilla. Bad guess (though it was an experience-based guess). Looking forward to seeing the list.

For indeed, she is the Program Haderach.

#191 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 03:39 PM:

Kat Feete wrote,


"Xopher: Ewww. What a creepazoid.

"Oh dear no - I fear I've misrepresented him. He did give me an uncomfortable five minutes or so, but what impressed me the most was that he had no ego involved in the thing at all. If I'd taken him up on the offer he'd have been thrilled, but when I didn't he wasn't hurt, he wasn't offended, he just pulled away the minute he realized I was truly uncomfortable and cheerfully started conversing with me instead. It was bizarre, but mostly because I've known so few guys who made turning them down so comfortable for me."

It -still- squicks me--it read like objectifiucation and the worst sort of promiscuousity ("This one isn't interested? Just grope another and see if she agrees..."), worse than Nate Bucklin's satiric song, "I Can't Get over You So Why Don't You Get under Me?"

It reminds me of what used to be known as the John Brunner Approach, "Hi, I'm John Brunner, the SF author. Wanna f*ck?" (only with a greater intrusion into personal space). Supposedly it works more than ten percent of the time.

#192 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 04:31 PM:

In the annals of genre-fiction authors coming on too strong, there was also Alan Ryan, whose opening line was, "Hello, my name is Alan Ryan and I've been watching you from across the room."

This method of introduction apparently worked several times at each convention or writers conference, according to various people who saw him in action.

At one point, disgusted with his behavior, a group of women had business cards made that read "Hello, my name is Alan Ryan and I've been watching you from across the room."

I don't know if they had to be used at more than one convention, but at at least once convention, the women handed a card to every they saw woman who was reasonably attractive/Alan's type, accompanied by a few cautionary words.

It had quite an effect, I was told.

#193 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 04:33 PM:

Apologies for the scrambled sentence--I even read the preview, because I fixed something else!

Obviously, it should read "woman they saw," not "they saw woman"

Og go home now, head hurts.

#194 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 04:39 PM:

It reminds me of what used to be known as the John Brunner Approach, "Hi, I'm John Brunner, the SF author. Wanna f*ck?"

That sounds like an auctorial version of "droit du seigneur," except with possibility of refusal. Does it really happen? Supposedly "droit etc." didn't, all you medievalists correct me if I'm wrong.

#195 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 04:42 PM:

Whoops, further commentation has overtaken me. I guess it does happen.

#196 ::: Tom Galloway ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 05:02 PM:

Um, maybe I'm missing something, but how is introducing yourself and saying "I've been watching you from across the room" coming on too strong? It doesn't seem to even be in the same league as "Wanna f*ck" or initiating extensive skin contact without introduction and/or permission? While it sounds like it was being used very promiscuously and generically, and is a bit generic to begin with, I could see myself going up to someone and saying something like "Hi, I'm Tom, and I heard you talking about X, which I'm also interested in, from over there" or "Hi, I'm Tom, and I saw from over there how you elbowed that jerk who snuck up behind you and started rubbing your neck. I like your style."

On the other hand, if it was meant in the sense "I've been watching you from across the room for an hour or so, and I'm rather a stalker.", yeah, it's creepy.

#197 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 06:58 PM:

Tom, I think what you seem to be missing is that that person appears to have an approach like a telephone solicitor. The person comes within his sight lines and he Approaches, using the exact same script. It's a scripted opening, regardless of -where- he was in the room.

"Hi, I'm Tom and I heard you talking about X" denotes that you were actually paying attention to the -person- and what the person was saying, as opposed to objectification of "See female with looks of Type and Hit On, using a the exact same script used on the last 300 women the infinite loop Approach Line repeater has approached.

The point was the the person -was- using a script, an utter unvarying script. If he had deviated from it at -all- the forewarning given against him wouldn't have worked:

"At one point, disgusted with his behavior, a group of women had business cards made that read "Hello, my name is Alan Ryan and I've been watching you from across the room."

That's proof that he was operating from an invariant script that he couldn't be bothered to attach ANY customization or personalization whatsoever to. Maybe someone just should have handed him a Disposable Darling....

#198 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 07:34 PM:

PiscusFiche: it is indeed; even if it's the bad guy's line I thought it a suitable comment on JvP's fast-and-loose approach. (It's an old favorite even considering the ... trouble ... it got me into....)

Erik: you reversed my referents. To clarify: I'm reasonably sure N4's advance numbers are lower than N3's, in line with Worldcon attendance in general fading from its ~80's peaks; the top 3 attendances were 19{84,89,93}. I'm quite aware that Dragoncon is in five figures, although your numbers are well above what I've heard. It's certainly not a simple age split; there are plenty of younger people involved with N4, and I know of a retired fan who dropped Worldcon when the conflict appeared. (I could make snide comments about his mental age, but someone else said it better: "X lives in a more interesting universe than the rest of us.")

JvP: read your quote and my words and think about them, noting that Rothman chaired the \fifth/ Worldcon. He may claim to have invented conventions, but that has always struck me as Moskowitzian puffery. (What? There's someone you haven't met? Moskowitz is the man whose history of early fandom makes World War II an anticlimax.) What happened according to other narrations is more like some kids taking a train to play with other kids and deciding afterward to call it a convention. (This comes from other narrations; note that your link points to the Philadelphia club's site, which is not an unbiased source.) I've known British fans to get excessively touchy over what they see as U.S. arrogance, but in this case they're right; they had the first SF event that could reasonably be called a convention rather than a private party.
One correction: Nycon used a hall, but
the most coherent history I've found notes the next three all used hotels.

#199 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 08:49 PM:

My $0.02: Kat Feete's friend was definitely being a creep--mauling a woman without her permission and talking about her as if she weren't there.

However, I've done as bad, back in my callow youth, and I like to think I'm also a good friend to my women friends. And was then, even in my callow youth.

I just wrote a description of what the "as bad" was ... but, nah, let it go. Suffice it to say that (1) It was 13 years ago, and I've grown up since then, as well as gotten married and become monogamous (2) I had previously been shy about making romantic and carnal overtures to women; this was one of my less-optimal strategies for being less shy. (3) I'd just broken off with a five-year relationship, and I confused and angry.

Also: Jell-O shots were involved.

#200 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2004, 10:56 PM:

Worldcons are constrained by factors that don't constrain events that are held year after year in the same city around the same time--while Worldcons tend to be on Labor Day USA weekend, they've never in the same geographic area, and sometimes not even in the same country, from year to year. That does a job on the continuity, it's not "see you here in this hotel next year!" like it is at regionals amd Dr*g*nC*n and anime conventions and Comicon.

If Dr*g*nC*n changed venue year after year and lacked continuity on the top leadership and most of the management from year to year, I strongly doubt it would be the size that it is. Conventiosn in the same place with the same management build a continuing clientele, who know to come back [or for some conventions which lost people, not cone back...] year after year, bringing in more other people with them or by word of mouth. That's a lot harder to do with Worldcons, since, again, they move, sometimes across oceans, and don't come back again for at least nine years.

#201 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 08:03 AM:

It reminds me of what used to be known as the John Brunner Approach, "Hi, I'm John Brunner, the SF author. Wanna f*ck?" (only with a greater intrusion into personal space). Supposedly it works more than ten percent of the time.

I know that about ten or so years ago I had friends who were the recipient of similar approaches, from various local musicians (big fish, small pond). (I somehow managed to avoid any propositions, I apparently emit "don't even think about it" vibes) Worst was a guy who walked up to a friend and said "You wanna f**k me, don't you?"

He was stunned when she didn't.

#202 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 08:54 AM:

Mitch, "Also, Jello shots were involved" sounds like a handy-dandy Universal Excuse.

Really, wouldn't it explain a lot to have George Bush give a speech on the war in Iraq and slip in the line "Also, Jello shots were involved."?

#203 ::: Priscilla ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 10:24 AM:

(A break from another day of burnishing.....)

I particularly detest the program items that some people want to do: "How to Flirt", "The Art of Giving a Back Rub", "Seduction 101" - there are always bunches of offers all the time, from the most unlikely people....

Feh.

#204 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 10:40 AM:

Oh, c'mon, Bruce. That was the last item in a long series. Young guys behave badly; people right out of relationships behave badly; drunk people behave badly. None of these things EXCUSE the bad behavior, and Mitch wasn't trying to deny responsibility for it; he was explaining that, as none of those circumstances obtain today, he's not someone to be avoided at cons (as drunk young men, whether just out of relationships or not, tend to be).

Michelle, I own a book in which the narrator speaks of a party where an unsavory man followed him around at a party, moaning over his attractiveness, and begging him to come home with him. "He whispered in my ear, describing the perversions we would perform. I felt certain we wouldn't." (Probably misquoted.)

(Gay narrator, not at all chaste, btw. It was the man's unnatractive approach that turned him off.)

#205 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 10:46 AM:

"Hello, my name is Alan Ryan and I've been watching you from across the room."

Ah. He'd read The Secrets of Speed Seduction.

#206 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 10:51 AM:

"As you move around the site, you'll discover why my Applied NLP & Erickson Hypnosis products are the absolute best at getting guys from every walk of life, the kind of results they want, with the kind of women they want, quick and easy."

"I'll show you how to turn simple, stress free and CHEAP coffee meetings into beautiful wild sex!"

#207 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 11:26 AM:

WRT The Secrets of Speed Seduction:

It's really not funny, despite the language. He's taking advantage of the emotional needs and fears and insecurities of a bunch of guys who ought to be getting better advice, while simultaneously making a lot of women miserable. If Alan was quoting TSSS, he deserves some pity to go with the revulsion.

"You'll realize why even guys who haven't had much success with women before or guys who don't have the looks or social status women normally require are finally enjoying power and choice with women, using my Speed Seduction® Basic or Deluxe Home Study Course."

That sort of thing is every bit as bad as John Edwards.

#208 ::: Connie ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 11:35 AM:

>"I'll show you how to turn simple, stress free and CHEAP coffee meetings into beautiful wild sex!"

Wow! You mean there isn't even any alcohol purchases involved?

I just hope the secret ingredient isn't Rohypnol.

As for program items like "Seduction 101" et alia, I figure that it puts the people who are looking to hook up in together. Maybe they will evolve a fannish equivalent to the handkerchief code....

#209 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 12:13 PM:

Priscilla, each of those items can actually be Useful for those who like the idea of treating people respectfully: if you put the right people on them. Rotsler's approach to "How to Flirt" included a great deal of space for letting folks choose not to, and instructions for how to recognize those who don't want to flirt. As a massage therapist, I think workshops on "The art of giving a back-rub" are very useful, and I've done several -- they all include material about not touching someone without explicit permission. And if "Seduction 101" doesn't include serious bits about "No _means_ NO!!!!", I'd ban the panelists from any program I was developing.

Choosing the panelists and aiming the item at what one wants to convey is the Secret Master Power of the program director. The title is just the hook that drags people in. Rather like the blurb on a book.

I will probably miss my first Noreascon this year, because of immediate unexpected expenses (a tooth broke last week). If someone buys an expensive book, I may change my mind, but I'm not expecting it -- if you know someone who wants a signed first of DUNE, OVER SEA UNDER STONE, or Heinlein's REVOLT IN 2100, send them my way.

#210 ::: Kerey Luis ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 12:59 PM:

I've been reading this thread with rapt fascination-- not that I've never been to cons, as I've been to many, actually-- but it's so interesting to listen to people discuss stuff here. (I had no idea that Philcon was the first-ever sf convention, for example, if I remember the comment correctly. That was the first con I ever went to, in college.) I'm actually thinking of attending a day or two of this convention (after reading all this!) and for someone as introverted as I, that's quite something.

I'm a longtime lurker, by the way. Um, hi.

I thought I would add my two cents to the "bad touch" thread. There is something which I find even worse than someone giving me a "backrub" (which is quite intrusive and tense-making for me), and that's having someone grab my hand and *drool* all over it. It happens more often at Pennsic than at cons, but I've had it happen in both venues, and even *thinking* about it makes me want to hit something, preferably the person who thinks that their saliva is so attractive.

Anyway. Hello. Um.

#211 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Andy Perrin: It's really not funny, despite the language. He's taking advantage of the emotional needs and fears and insecurities of a bunch of guys who ought to be getting better advice, while simultaneously making a lot of women miserable. If Alan was quoting TSSS, he deserves some pity to go with the revulsion.

That's possible, but I don't see any evidence that's going on in that particular article. Sure, the language of the ad is silly--that's why I posted it--but he may well be delivering sound advice.

I know a couple of guys who took classes like that, it seemed to do them some good. They were almost paralyzed with shyness about making romantic or carnal overtures to women. The ad helped them get over it.

I didn't take a class, but I picked the brains of friends who were what we used to call "pick-up artists." The two most valuable bits of advice I remember were: (1) Expect failure, but expect to have a good time anyway and (2) Rejection doesn't actually hurt. You THINK it will hurt and you avoid encounters for that reason, but in reality it doesn't hurt much, or at all--and up until the moment you're rejected, you're actually having a pretty good time, aren't you?

These rules are morality- and etiquette-neutral. They can be applied by the cad who grabs hungry, cranky women and subjects them to unsolicited neckrubs, or to the charming fellow who starts with witty conversation. And, like the ad says, the advice works if you're just looking to get laid quick or if you want to meet someone for a long-term serious relationship.

Connie: As for program items like "Seduction 101" et alia, I figure that it puts the people who are looking to hook up in together.

In theory, the people who go to the panel could hook up with each other, but in reality I expect attendance is 100% het male.

Maybe they will evolve a fannish equivalent to the handkerchief code....

The code already exists, although it's nothing so explicit as the handkerchief code (you're talking about the thing gay men do with bandannas? Or did?). Men and women have their little language of seduction and flirtation, consisting of verbal signals, some direct and some oblique, and body language. It's a language that I was never able to read back when I was single--hence my shyness and paralysis.

I think maybe a lot of people have this problem. The sexual revolution has been a wonderful thing, but it's resulted in an abandonment of the rituals and code that would let Person "A" know when Person "B" was interested, for values of "A" and "B" where "A" and "B" are somewhat stupid about such matters.

Or, at least that was the case back when I was single--I expect the situation has changed drastically since I went off the market (as they say) in 1992. Electronic communications have brought a few changes to dating etiquette, I'm told--back when I was single, very few people had cell phones, pagers, instant message didn't exist, and while I knew a lot of people with e-mail, there was no etiquette for romance evolved around e-mail. Since then, the rituals and etiquette have evolved--for example, I'm told that it's still considered a no-no for a woman to initiate a phone call to a man she's romantically interested in, but it's okay for her to send an e-mail.

Back when I was single, electronic dating services were just starting to become respectable. Until then, they'd been places for prostitutes to hook up with customers, and that was still going on, but you could meet quite a few respectable women on those services too, and I met a few of them. I think the emergence of Internet dating services are WONDERFUL for single people. It gets things started. You know the person you're meeting is looking, the other person knows you're looking, so things get moving a little faster--in some respects at least.

#212 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 01:21 PM:

Kerey Luis - Ah, the Greater and Lesser Hand-Kissing Nerds. I've heard our Blog Hostess name those in her philology of fandom.

#213 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 01:36 PM:

That's possible, but I don't see any evidence that's going on in that particular article.

That quote from TSSS was my evidence. If you read something in that quote other than a money-grubbing pitch to male insecurity (about looks or money), you're going to have to point it out to me. To be fair, I do sometimes prejudge these things, so I might be missing the obvious. That happens to me with some frequency.

#214 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 01:37 PM:

Hand-kissing, if done correctly, leaves no trace of saliva on the lady's hand. In fact it's not quite proper for the kiss to be more than an air-kiss, unless the lady is someone you know well.

Of course, if you know her well enough you could get away with licking her palm - but if you know her THAT well you probably came with her and won't be kissing her hand anyway!

Seriously, for a formal greeting in SCA style, one should bend one knee, and make an air-kiss just above the surface. Since you might misjudge, especially if like many fans and SCAdians you're rather nearsighted, be sure your lips are dry as dry before attempting it...in fact, even if you don't misjudge, an air-kiss can expel a tiny little bit of liquid, which will be very annoying to the lady unless she's wearing gloves.

So wipe them with a napkin if necessary, or just bend over the hand and make no actual attempt to kiss it.

Alas, that those who need advice are seldom there to hear't!

#215 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 01:38 PM:

Note to Mitch: The quote I was referring to was the "You'll realize why even guys..." one.

#216 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 02:11 PM:

Andy Perrin - Yes, "The Secrets of Speed Seduction" is pitching to male insecurity about looks and money. But I see no reason to believe that the course is not delivering what it promises.

#217 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 02:24 PM:

All I had to do was spend 3 seconds on the web page to know that there isn't enough money on this planet to get me in bed with the course instructor, so why should his students have any better luck?

#218 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 02:46 PM:

But I see no reason to believe that the course is not delivering what it promises.

Mitch: What Tina said. Also, what Priscilla, Michelle, and Paula said.

#219 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 02:56 PM:

What Tina said. Let me just add: ewww.

#220 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 03:28 PM:

You'll realize why even guys who haven't had much success with women before or guys who don't have the looks or social status women normally require

*thwacks forehead* And to think that all this time, I considered myself an individual, when actually I was just a piece of the greathivemindwoman. The shallow greathivemindwoman, I might add. Good to have that cleared up.

#221 ::: Kerey Luis ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 05:01 PM:

To Mitch Wagner and Xtopher:

Well, I had no illusions that there was a better way to do things. But I did refuse to give my hand to anyone at SCA events or cons for quite a few years after a couple of unpleasant events. For some reason this doesn't seem to happen anymore (either I've gotten more intimidating as I've aged, or someone other than myself got tired of it and responded as the slimy person deserved, thus lowering the popularity of this form of greeting strange women).

(And also I may be strange in other forms, I was using the adjective only in the form of "people one does not know yet.")

Actually, I doubt the latter. But I can hope that someone acted as I wished I had, when someone held tenaciously onto my hand-- while I was attempting to pull away-- and tongue-kissed it. I should have given him a fist in the teeth.

Thoroughly gross behavior.

However, I will keep your advice in mind, should I ever be in a position where it would be proper for me to kiss a lady's hand!

#222 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 05:22 PM:

If you're dressed as a man (doublet and hose, say), it would be proper AFAIK.

A fist in the teeth, or a swift knee under the jaw while the offending tongue was out. I can't imagine something like that happening at any SCA event I've ever been to, without a chain of combat challenges being issued to the man in question, resulting in his thorough bruising even through armor. And if enough people heard about it, he might be banned from events by decree of Their Madges.

Oh, I forgot the safest of all hand-kissing techniques: hold the lady's hand with your fingers underneath and your thumb on top, and kiss your thumb. Makes a very satisfying sound, and minimizes the risk of offending the lady.

#223 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 06:29 PM:

Tom Whitmore tempted me horribly...

if you know someone who wants a signed first of DUNE, OVER SEA UNDER STONE, or Heinlein's REVOLT IN 2100, send them my way

I didn't just read you write this. I didn't, didn't, didn't, dammit!

#224 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 06:38 PM:

I suppose one way to deal with those who insist on French-kissing your hand is to wipe your hand clean on their clothing...

#225 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 06:50 PM:

They're really pretty copies, too, xeger (and all well in four figures in price).

#226 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 06:57 PM:

Wow.
From a newbie's point of view, it's little unnerving to hear there are ceeps in the crowd.

But then, the thing that turned me off to fandom at first was hearing that the cryonics people drummed up trade at conventions.

So it took me a while to realize there's something worthwhile in spite of all that, and actually try some con-going.

#227 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 07:13 PM:

Tom - I believe you... but unfortunately my budget doesn't extend past my nose... let alone to four figures. Damn.

Damn, damn, damn.

#228 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 08:49 PM:

But then, the thing that turned me off to fandom at first was hearing that the cryonics people drummed up trade at conventions.

Just give 'em the cold shoulder, and don't lose your head. A wintry glance should suffice, but if not, you could try a voice devoid of warmth.

#229 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 08:52 PM:

I'd like to echo the collective "eeew" above.

I'd also like to point out (probably not to the posters in this Blog, many of whom I know, and the rest I suspect, to be persons of the finest sensibilities) that backing a woman into the corner and explaining in detail (with or without gobbets of spit) how she erred in the plotting of her last short story, is not good technique. I suspect even the Unctuous Chap at the NLP site would know better. My very first Worldcon followed my very first SF publication, and while I was briefly delighted to find someone who would admit to having read my story, I was very shortly horrified to consider that this jerk was my readership. And then he compounded the matter by asking, at the end of his jeremiad, whether I would like a backrub.

I suddenly saw someone I needed to talk to urgently.

(I should also mention that I was close to 30 when I went to my first convention, not a total stranger to come-ons, and I was still flustered by this.)

#230 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2004, 10:19 PM:

Re: Cryonics salesmen, just don't take them up on their offer of "a cold one."

#231 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 12:31 AM:

xopher: "... kiss your thumb": the first thing that brought to mind was the lead of Double Star commenting on his (acting) competition: -"He was so conceited that when the script called for him to kiss a lady's hand he would kiss his own instead."- I suppose it depends on circumstances.

Kerey: as noted, the claim that Philcon was the first SF convention is disputed. Their web page doesn't have info on whether it was even the first \annual/ convention; I know there was a set of Boskones during World War II (followed by a >20-year hiatus) because various NESFen are obsessive about history, and several other annual conventions have been around quite a while.

#232 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 12:40 AM:

The creeps get the discussion because Traumatic Experiences tend to stick out in people's minds, plus, there is the desire to warn other people of "see and AVOID this creep!"

There are two or three or so modes of reaction that people have with respect to experiencial yecchs! --one is the "I went through misery, the REST of you can get the misery too!" classic Japanese wife experience, when the abused daughter-in-law's mother-in-law dies off and she becomes a mother-in-law- the tradition was to treat the new bride with the same abuse the mother-in-law had experienced as a new bride.

Another mode is "I don't want -other- people to have to suffer what I suffered, I will tell them what and who to look out for and maybe they'll avoid those particular wretched experiences!"

And another mode is conversation and what one -remembers-. "there we were in a party talking about the usual" just isn't as agood a story as, "I was talking to X and Y and we were having a conversation about whether a particular two-footed piece of slime who think he's a decent male homo sapiens, was a leech or a limpet." [what -can- one say about someone who is such as utter loser that he tried hitting on me and wouldn't go away when it was clear to everyone ELSE that the fellow I was not-quite-glued-to-at-the-hip-at-the-time and I were NOT interested in being hit on and especially not by an utterluy clueless slime cretin?!]

#233 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 03:27 AM:

... and really - it's much more interesting (although not fun at the time) to talk about the GoH that had a heart attack, and a missing ConChair than it is to talk about the (implausible) con that had no hitches...

On the good side of things, another GoH managed to say exactly the right thing at the right time to a particularly frazzled member of staff, for which I've been eternally thankful.

#234 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 01:56 PM:

I suppose one way to deal with those who insist on French-kissing your hand is to wipe your hand clean on their clothing...

Well, since it's usually the back of your hand, I'd recommend wiping it on their face instead. With sufficient force that the impact would be heard some distance away.

#235 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 05:45 PM:

"From a newbie's point of view, it's little unnerving to hear there are creeps in the crowd."

Serious question: why is it unnerving? Why would you expect anything else?

If SF fandom had managed to be, against everything we know about human nature, creep-free, that would be news on the order of the discovery of, oh, desktop cold fusion.

#236 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 05:47 PM:

As to Dragoncon vs Worldcon, from what I hear, the real threat to the Worldcon's primus inter pares position in skiffygeek culture isn't battered old Dragoncon; it's the San Diego Comic Con, which (I'm pretty reliably informed) actually has smart and worthwhile programming along with its 70,000 attendees, three-ring circus, and display floor the size of a planet. Including programming about (whisper it) written SF.

#237 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 05:56 PM:

Plus being in San Diego, which much as I love Boston has better scenery (human (male) type).

Not that that means anything.

#238 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 06:53 PM:

In response to Patrick's question:

I guess it's because these tales of unpleasant people can color my impression of what the rest of the group is like.

What I'm saying is I might find myself extrapolating from the wrong example and getting a false impression of what the rest of the crowd is likely to be like.

I was freaked out, for example, when I heard that some fans I know of were taking the cryonics stuff seriously, and when I read somewhere that conventions were where the cryonics people drummed up interest. But later I figured, well, that's not everybody, and proceeded to begin looking for the good stuff. It took a whle for me to do that, though.

Similarly, some of the tales on this thread of rude pickup artists and other annoying people, could create a misimpression of what everybody in fandom in general is like.


#239 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 09:35 PM:

You find what you look for. It varies from con to con, too, even in my limited experience.

#240 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 09:57 PM:

Wow, some SF fans take cryonics seriously. Stop the presses.

Also, some realtors take Left Behind seriously. Obviously that's the most important fact about the realtor convention. No, wait, it's not.

#241 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 10:42 PM:

Paula: "Another mode is "I don't want -other- people to have to suffer what I suffered, I will tell them what and who to look out for and maybe they'll avoid those particular wretched experiences!"

In a non-fan group, we once had a guy who would descend on new women and really woo them for a couple of weeks and then drop them. He always said the excessive dating & flowers & gifts was just his way of getting to know them (yeah right), but when we decided to start warning the new women, they wouldn't believe us, they'd call us jealous and then still fall apart when he dropped them.

As to cons, I'm reading McCrumb's Foggy Mountain Breakdown and other stories, (which, incidently, are not nearly as satisfying as her Ballad books or SF stories) and in one of the stories last night, she did to romance writers & poets at a regional literary con what she did to SF fen in Bimbos.

#242 ::: Tom Galloway ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 11:12 PM:

Have to disagree about San Diego being a threat to Worldcon as we know it. Yes, it's different from most (all?) comics conventions in having significant multi-track programming, a Worldcon class masquerade, etc. And it's long since converted from comics convention to geek pop culture convention.

But if you take a close look at the programming, a *lot* of it goes into the categories of 1) Major media presentation (Cartoon Network, Sci-Fi Channel, movies, etc.), 2) Comics company presentations (What's new in the DC universe, the Spider-Man books, etc.), 3) individual spotlights on the 20 or so special guests of the con. Next up would be the "Mark Evanier track", which is Mark moderating a number of historical based or older creator panels/spotlights.

But after that, you've probably got maybe 1-2 full tracks of other programming per day. With no offense to San Diego, the programming has a very different feel than Worldcon program.

Also, there's no tradition of open parties, or even a central evening location any more (the Hyatt bar(s) appears to be the closest, at least for pros). The evening/social scene is a completely different feel.

I almost always go to both San Diego and Worldcon for the last decade plus, so I clearly believe there's value in each. But it's a pretty different type of value, at least to me.

#243 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2004, 11:16 PM:

Hm. A realtor who really took the Left Behind books seriously ought to be willing to give me a great deal on a house, since if the Rapture is imminent he shouldn’t care if he makes a profit in the long term.

#244 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 12:58 AM:

Avram, don't I wish that were true. I'll put it on the list next to searching for a Christian who takes Matthew 24:19 literally.

"See? The Bible says rich people have a hard time getting into Heaven," I'll say. "So why don't you donate that money to me? I'm not Christian!"

#245 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 02:32 AM:

Priscilla wrote:

I particularly detest the program items that some people want to do: "How to Flirt", "The Art of Giving a Back Rub", "Seduction 101" - there are always bunches of offers all the time, from the most unlikely people....

But does anyone propose a panel on How Not to Flirt? Just by perusing the worldcongoing comments on this blog, one could assemble a list of behaviors that, obviously, some small subset of fannish men don't know to stop trying. Guys who want to assemble a flirtation repertoire--one that actually deserves a response more favorable than an elbow to the solar plexus--might welcome a chance to learn from women (rather than from the eeeeuww-inducing guru) which behaviors they ought to purge from their repertoires. One of the sad things about the Stealth Gropers is that some of them genuinely don't understand that they're giving offense or why, and would be mortified if they once figured it out. You just can't be perfectly certain which Stealth Gropers are which, even after you've fended them off.

I'm guessing probably the How Not to Flirt panel has been done before--after all, I've been absent from the scene since the first Bush administration. Impossible to know how much I've missed.

#246 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 03:00 AM:

Sarah Avery: "I've been absent from the scene since the first Bush administration. Impossible to know how much I've missed."

Oh, golly, where do I start? The World Wide Web, "Frasier," reality television, and, hey, did you know that Milli Vanilli were phoneys? Who knew?!

#247 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 06:50 AM:

Tina: You mean Matthew 19:24. 24:19 is the middle of Jesus' own prophecy of the end of the world, though.

#248 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 08:52 AM:

Regarding creeps and How Not To Flirt: the stealth gropers, the smooth talkers, the serial fiancees, the players, and other unsavory types are part of human nature. To echo what PNH said, you'll find them in fandom because you'll find them in any group of people.

And re-education of these creeps doesn't work in the mundane world and wouldn't work in the SF world. If it were voluntary, the people who really needed it wouldn't go. If it were mandatory, it would be resisted or ignored.

I think these types are more in evidence at SF conventions than in the world at large simply because fellow members of a convention are already assumed to have a certain minimum level of familiarity. Many people wouldn't start up a random conversation with a stranger in a bar, on a bus, or in a bank teller line. But a panel, a party, the dealers' room, or even a busy hallway at a convention is assumed to be a place where anyone there is part of your circle of acquaintances (not intimate, but casual, or as some people like to say, "friends you haven't met").

The question then becomes, what type of contact is appropriate for this sort of acquaintance? I like to talk to people, and I have started conversations on little or no pretext at conventions as well as in the mundane world. But you have to understand and act appropriately when the person doesn't want to talk to you.

And for anything beyond talk, well, the wisest thing is to not assume that anything is okay until you get to know the person better, and respect their boundaries if you accidentally transgress them. But that's just common sense, and I'm preaching to the choir.

#249 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 09:10 AM:

"The two most valuable bits of advice I remember were: (1) Expect failure, but expect to have a good time anyway and (2) Rejection doesn't actually hurt. You THINK it will hurt and you avoid encounters for that reason, but in reality it doesn't hurt much, or at all--and up until the moment you're rejected, you're actually having a pretty good time, aren't you?

Well... usually.

Back in high school, I was already very shy, very introverted, with a very low opinion of my looks. (I thought I looked like a movie star. Unfortunately, the movie star was Lon Chaney.)

But I was attracted to some of the girls I took classes with, and eventually I screwed up my courage and asked one of them for a date.

That first time asking went well. She was a very pretty, very smart, very nice young lady. She also had a regular boyfriend already, and let me down gently. (Thank you, Jami, wherever you are.)

The second girl I tried asking for a date, a few months later...

I went up to her just before geometry class started and asked her if she'd like to see a movie with me. She stared at me for a few seconds, with a surprised look on her face, and then... laughed.

Laughed LOUDLY. Laughed HARD. And then turned and walked away from me.

That would have been bad enough, but it wasn't the end of this story.

When she walked away, she walked over to where her best friend stood. I saw them put their heads together and talk for a few seconds. The best friend looked up, towards me, with a surprised expression, and then...

...they BOTH laughed. Laughed HARD.

That would have been bad enough. But that's not the end of this story.

We all went into the classroom and took our seats with the other kids. Before class proper started, though, there had to be the traditional reading of the school's Daily Bulletin. And it just so happened that on this particular day, one of the first items in the Bulletin began with the words "For that hot date Saturday night...".

And the girl I'd asked, and her best friend, EXPLODED with laughter. They were WHOOPING. They were SHRIEKING. And I looked out of the corner of my eye, and they were laughing so hard, they were literally starting to slide out of their chairs.

At about this point, I figured I should just dribble out of my own seat, slide under the classroom door, and go join the rest of the slime molds where I so obviously belonged.

Suffice to say, it was two years, and I was in college, before I worked up enough courage to try asking anyone again, and actually got my first date.

#250 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 09:29 AM:

I'd just like to say again, as I did some gazillion posts ago, that I have never been hit on at the half-dozen cons I've been to--or if I was it was so subtle I didn't notice, which is functionally equivalent.

I was about to say "and I'm young and at least somewhat attractive by general standards, maybe not by fannish ones" but then I remembered that last Albacon someone thought I was under 18, so maybe people are just trying to avoid jailbait. *shrug* Dunno.

#251 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 10:49 AM:

"And re-education of these creeps doesn't work in the mundane world and wouldn't work in the SF world. If it were voluntary, the people who really needed it wouldn't go. If it were mandatory, it would be resisted or ignored."

Actually, re-education usually -does- work. There would be a lot more people out stealing and robbing and looting and raping--notice situations such as Iraq after the Ba'athist government dissolved itself and anarchy reigned in the country because Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld actively prevented the US State Department from doing and carrying out any plans for administering Iraq with it government vacated and actively mandated that the military was NOT to do anything like patrol streets and suppress looters, put guards on museums and libraries and government offices other than the damned Oil Bidness orifices, provide for continuity of courts and civil administration, etc.-- Take away the civil administration and routine and expectation that antisocial behavior will not be tolerated, and people will compete with one another to see who can grab the most loot, get away with the most, steal the most, start fires, etc.

"Re-education" consisting of "no one is going to regard you as anything except a piece of stinking lowlife slime and will treat you like a piece of shit if you don't conform to the following minimal considerate-to-other-people expectation of such things as not laying hands on other people without their permission, etc." works on -most- people, particularly if there is a reward for compliant behavior.

There are people I've known who are functional sociopaths--they don't go around murdering people, etc., not because they have any person moral repugnance, but because other people they want to continue associating with find such things repugnant, or because they look at the probably outcome and decide the cost is higher than the value to them of carrying out the acts. \

The brake on them is -external-, not internal.

#252 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 11:08 AM:

Marilee, what was the fannish reaction to Bimbos? The book struck me as being a slap in the face for fans. (IANAF, which is why I have to ask.) Was McCrumb burnt in effigy, or did people shrug?

#253 ::: Kerey Luis ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 11:09 AM:

I think that bad experiences do tend to stick out more. Especially, ahem, early bad experiences. The incident I wrote of happened lo these many years ago during my first year of college. (These days the rude person in question might indeed get a fist in the teeth, or at least the verbal equivalent thereof.)

On the whole, I don't think that cons are cesspools of rude behavior. Indeed, I've been treated far worse at work! It's just that the type of rude behavior is-- how shall I put this?-- more exotic. There is nothing particularly interesting in being yelled at for no reason or having a door slammed in one's face (both work experiences I do not care to repeat).

Also, at conventions, one is allowed to be rude back. This is not permitted at work.

On the whole, I have found cons to be exceedingly friendly places, and have met far more nice people there than in most other venues.

Re: Philcon. Thank you for letting me know about the uncertainty as well-- it seems as though historical debate is lively on this subject. Claims to being "the first convention ever" must be valuable, after all.

#254 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 11:53 AM:

Bruce, I agree. Anyone who says rejection doesn't hurt probably has a defective romance gland.

I managed to avoid horror stories like yours back in my pre-hyphenated days (mostly by being a big coward, I think), but even a "no, thank you" hurts. And having a good time up until rejection? Um, no. Abject terror - not my idea of fun.

(Mind, I was never under any illusions about the odds; I look like, well, a geek, and I always have. I used to get the Friends Speech. A lot. Don't recall it ever getting easier, though.)

#255 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 11:55 AM:

Andy, you'll find a variety of responses to McCrumb's novel. My own was that I've seen much more effective takedowns of the fannish subculture written from inside of it. What was annoying about Bimbos of the Death Sun wasn't that it made fun of SF fandom, it was the extremely casual attitude it took toward getting it right. (I don't mean on the level of historical trivia, I mean on basic sociological and social stuff. But it's been a long time since I looked at a copy.)

That said, I suspect the commonest response was, indeed, "shrug."

As to panels about "how to flirt," I can well imagine such things being done well and usefully. The flip side of the way many fans seem like borderline octoroon Asperger's cases (note I'm saying "seem like"; I'm not expressing an actual opinion about neurology) is that we're pretty good at absorbing information presented as a system. And obviously it's possible to discuss human social interaction in a systematic way without it automatically becoming something as dumb and coarse as "Techniques of Speed Seduction."

(All that said, any such panel would also have to have a strong admixture of humor and agnosticism. Fans may be nerds, but they're generally funny and cynical nerds.)

#256 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 12:11 PM:

As for the Friends speech -- I used to know someone who had a t-shirt that said "Fuck you, I already have enough friends." An extreme response, to be sure, but understandable.

And if the How To Flirt panels teach ONE guy that it's not OK to walk up to a woman and just start touching her - no matter where or with what - they'll be worth it, say I. Probably saves money in the long run (cleaning his blood off the carpet, negotiating with a new hotel, you know the drill).

#257 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 12:54 PM:

Thanks, Patrick. WRT McCrumb's problems getting it right, I have a question for whoever wants to answer. (I'm kinda hesitant to mention this, but I'd rather get all my misconceptions cleared up at once.) McCrumb's most serious charge (I don't remember if it was in Bimbos or in the sequel) concerns the word "mundane." She makes it sound like step 1 in "How to Start a Genocide." I know it can't be that bad, because lots of people use it as a synonym for non-fan. Every so often, though, I think I hear an edge to it that make me uncomfortable. It seems to me that I might be reading things in that aren't there, since I read McCrumb's books long before I started reading ML. But I'd rather know for sure.

#258 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 01:14 PM:

And using mundane as a synonym for non-fan contradicts the genocidal interpretation how? :)

Serious question: does mundane mean non-fan, or non-Fan?

#259 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 01:15 PM:

Andy: Fandom is large and each person within it contains multitudes. By which I mean you'll hear different people use mundane in various ways as well as the same person differently at different times. Back when sf was not a respectable thing to read and we fell into fandom with cries of joy at discovering our long lost family, we developed an in-group jargon. This is part of the whole group identity thing; almost all groups do it. Mundane became the word for non-fans as we celebrated our weirdness, our diversity, our non-normative behavior. Most of us these days have a mundane life as well as a fannish one so it behooves us to respect other mundanity. But I'm not answering for my attitudes at the end of a bad day!

MKK

#260 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 01:27 PM:

McCrumb got things much better in ZOMBIES OF THE GENE POOL, which actually was sympathetic to the nature of fandom in its early years. BIMBOS, as others here have said, was very sloppily wrong.

#261 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 01:32 PM:

Pretty much what Mary Kay said.

I've occasionally heard the word "mundane" used is a seriously derogatory way, but by and large it's just a subcultural term for people not in the subculture. It's not generally freighted with contempt, if that's the question.

Quite a few subcultures adjacent to SF fandom, such as the SCA, use the term as well, so much so that I've occasionally referred to the overall cluster as "the non-mundane universe." Of course, this being the case, one person's mundane is another's insider; at a gathering of Star Trek fanatics, I'm a mundane, much the same way Mormons get to startle Jews by referring to them as "gentiles."

#262 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 01:33 PM:

In-groups, especially ones that are out-groups from mainstream society, generally have a term for non-members. (Insert reference to Teresa's conversations with (was it Jerry Kaufman?) on the proper meaning of the term 'gentile'.) Most of you are Cowans, for example (some of my best friends...)

Any noun that tags a person with membership in a particular group can be used offensively. Some have been used that way so much that their mere use is patently offensive: the N word, for example. I don't think 'mundane' has reached that level, and most likely it won't. I haven't heard any great store of fannish anger against the Mundanes in general, have you? Ever?

#263 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 01:34 PM:

Thank you, Tom and Mary Kay. I feel better already. (I think some of the antisocial male behaviors mentioned in this thread are alluded to in ZOMBIES, no?)

#264 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 01:37 PM:

...and Patrick and Xopher...

Mormons get to startle Jews by referring to them as "gentiles."

*Startled!*

#265 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 01:45 PM:

Me 'n Patrick, we posted simultaneouslike. Great minds, etc.

I think the SCA got 'mundane' from fandom. But since they develop full personas (mine, for example, is an 11th-Century Irishman), they actually talk about "mundane life" (so my "mundane life" is my job, my apartment, my bills etc.) or even "mundane clothes" as opposed to period garb. The latter is sometimes shortened to just 'mundanes' as in "You can't show up to Coronation in mundanes--here, you can borrow my extra houpelonde."

#266 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 02:04 PM:

If we are not mundane, are we not of this world?

Other-worldly? Spacy? Other-wordly?

#267 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 02:13 PM:

Bimbos of the Death Sun was a lot funnier to me ten or twelve years ago than it is in retrospect.

It's not exactly that it's untruthful; I think most people who've had contact with fandom would find much to recognize. It's that it's one more case of the Spinal Tap satirization of fandom pretending it's representative of the (for lack of a better word) norm.

That, and the tone of slightly worried condescension that pervades its POV.

It's possible to load any word with contempt, as wiser folks than I have already noted, but "mundane" is pretty innocuous as these things go, and it seems to be used tongue-in-cheek as often as not. (I like the term "Naturals" myself, but not everyone has the same appreciation of the film Nightbreed that I do.)

#268 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 03:51 PM:

I read (and booklogged) Bimbos of the Death Sun without having had much contact with organized fandom, and thought it was pretty awful. Not for its treatement of any particular group, mind-- it's just amazingly badly done. How it won an award, I have no idea.

The one good thing about the poor quality of the book is that it makes me feel perfectly justified in not giving a damn about the author's portrayal of fandom...

#269 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 04:01 PM:

A handy term I got handed by, I think, Steve Glover, was "quasi-fannish entity". Which can be applied to any organization (or individual) that is not a member of or function of fandom but which sprouts a similar subculture.

The SCA has it. Re-enactment groups in general have it. Arguably, paganism has it, goths have it, Linux users (of the activist strain) have it, all to lesser or greater degrees. (Some don't, just as many readers of written SF or fans of SF film and TV don't participate in fandom. But all the groups I just mentioned have their own cognates of SF's fandom, with their own in-jokes and shared culture and outlook on the rest of the world.) They're all quasi-fannish activities. (From a fannish point of view, of course ...)

Personally, I'm looking forward to re-upping my dose of fandom next month (now the family medical emergency is under control). And I'm not going to turn my nose up at anybody else's.

#270 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 04:47 PM:

Nice coinage. I think I’m going to go over to Cafepress and having some T-shirts made that say “quasi-mundane entity”.

#271 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 06:07 PM:

Patrick says: Quite a few subcultures adjacent to SF fandom, such as the SCA, use the term as well, so much so that I've occasionally referred to the overall cluster as "the non-mundane universe."
And this has been true quite a while; in Mik Ado About Nothing (1977), a SCAdian looks at a con and asks what all the mundanes are gathered for...

Andy -- reaction to McCrumb also varied according to what people knew of her. I've read most of her work, and the first many were little more than accumulated bitchiness attempting to be funny. (That may be too harsh but it's certainly the line she was working; the later McPherson books and all of the ballad stories actually have some substance.) And most of the people who have been around fandom a while are used to ignorant putdowns from people who just look in; the Toronto press, having distinguished itself with the headline "Zap! Zap! Atomic Ray Passe' with Fiends" around Torcon 1, sent someone who I understand is notorious for sneering at everything to the Torcon 3 Hugos, but they're hardly alone. The con McCrumb described reads rather like one of the commercial conventions that depend on noisy stories for their bottom line; I think most fans are used to having their conventions mistaken for these. I'm a bit surprised to see Patrick calling the sequel sympathetic; after reading The Futurians and The Way The Future Was I'd call it more realistic but not accommodating.

#272 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 06:25 PM:

"Quasi-mundane entity"?

Wasn't he a character in that book, you know, by the guy they named the award after -- Victor Nebula?

On a completely different wossname, it was recently announced that someone else with access to other folks' money plans to build an Australian-themed resort on the Las Vegas Strip, with lots of water stuff, because, well, there's at least fifty gallons left in the Colorado aquifer. Anyway, the casino is supposed to look like the Sydney Opera House.

I've been to the Sydney Opera House. I've got nothing against it. But I've also heard plenty of local opinion about it, and even allowing for the fact that locals -always- gripe about unusual architecture, this seems like, well, somebody's idea of a private joke. New York-New York doesn't have its casino in a copy of a Gaseteria, though that might have been a better idea than putting it inside the Stock Exchange.

Which leads me to some thoughts about the fact that NYCTA has proposed selling the rights to name subway stations, but I am already closer than usual to being mistaken for Professor Irwin Corey, and from here you can make up your own jokes.

#273 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 06:29 PM:

Whoops. This wasn't the Open Thread, was it. Darn cheap Lenses of Outsourced Civilization.

#274 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 06:58 PM:

Andy, I see people have already answered you. In my experience, fans either hate it or don't care. I don't think I've met anybody who likes it. The intro to the collection I'm reading is rather self-congratulatory, and shows that a lot of her "Ballad" stories are actually fleshed-out versions of her family stories. I agree that Zombies is better than Bimbos, but my problem with Bimbos is that it's so wrong.

And, speaking of Worldcons, look at this article from The Herald:

http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/21443.html

Apparently no women will attend next year's Worldcon, and no-one ever reads any books.

#275 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 07:06 PM:

She must be thinking of DragonCon.

#276 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 07:26 PM:

>Apparently no women will attend next year's
>Worldcon, and no-one ever reads any books.

Marilee, that's not the least of it.

(Speaking of which, what's the betting bin Laden has a well-worn DVD of Plan Nine From Outer Space in his cave or a natty pair of mail order Vulcan ears?)

Who *is* that idiot?

#277 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 07:41 PM:

Come on, you know he’s got to be a Plan Nine fan.

#278 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 07:47 PM:

This is the Herald, after all, which not only doesn't aspire to be the NY Post, it barely dreams of being the Weekly World News.

On the other hand, it has been reported by persons who were there at the time that Ronald Reagan wandered the White House before Reykjavik muttering "Klaatu barada nikto," and expressing a wish that Us and Them had some kind of extraterrestrial third party to join forces against. (The likely result of the CoDominium taking on an interstellar-capable culture that seriously wanted a fight is left as an exercise for fans of John Christopher. And maybe Gore Vidal.)

#279 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 08:59 PM:

What's annoying about the Herald piece is that they actually sent a halfway-sane reporter to the press conference last week (I was there) and I spotted him chatting to the committee and Jane Yolen ... and lo, verily, we are served the same, standard, steaming pile of shit masquerading as journalism by some idiot columnist who wasn't even there.

Grr. It's not merely bad journalism, it's inefficient bad journalism.

#280 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 09:04 PM:

*Fills Super-Soaker with thanks and assaults Marilee and CHip*

If the press regularly refers to "sci-fi" fans in such terms, I begin to understand where the aversion to that label derives.

#281 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 09:12 PM:

Vince Docherty and Colin Harris, co-chairs of Interthingy, have written a reply to the Herald article which they have posted to SMOFS. If people want I can find the text and post it.

MKK

#282 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 09:14 PM:

Chad Orzel: Your review of Bimbos is pretty much as I recall it, though I don't remember the book being quite that bad.

"As for the fandom aspects, some of the confusion over whether it's a hatchet job or not probably stems from the fact that the author hasn't really decided, either." Yes, that's it exactly.

#283 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2004, 10:26 PM:

John M. Ford:

"On the other hand, it has been reported by persons who were there at the time that Ronald Reagan wandered the White House before Reykjavik muttering "Klaatu barada nikto," and expressing a wish that Us and Them had some kind of extraterrestrial third party to join forces against. (The likely result of the CoDominium taking on an interstellar-capable culture that seriously wanted a fight is left as an exercise for fans of John Christopher. And maybe Gore Vidal.)"

Believe it or not, I actually WROTE a novel manuscript on that premise, got paid $5,000 by a packager, said packager lost interest when events in the collapsing USSR caught up to, and then diverged from my story.

You see, the Hubble was NOT really sent up with a bad mirror. That was the cover, as it was used to watch the incoming alien fleet. We had to end the Cold War, and use the freed-up fissionables to power the fleet that we sent to intercept the alien fleet.

But when the USSR fell, there was the biggest gold theft in world history, as the Communist Party vault was plundered. And then, and then, ...

Has anyone ever assembled a chart of what various cultures call members of each other, along the lines of "gentile?" The Relativity of Gentility?

I've finally updated my livejournal blog, in preparation for Friday the 13th, tomorrow...

So I spare you more Math here for a while.

#284 ::: Michelle Sagara ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 12:18 AM:

On being hit on at conventions:

Yes. But it didn't bother me because, in the end, everyone was always incredibly gracious about the No Thank You they received.

As this was so not the case in other social gatherings (I particularly dislike the "What, are you a lesbian?" reply, although I was much older before I could say, "I would be if you were the last man on earth"; there are others that were more offensive, but I'll leave it be), I never felt particularly threatened or herded. I didn't really feel complimented, but I didn't feel threatened.

YMMV, and obviously, everyone has different experiences; I will say that it's been a while since I've had this problem, possibly because I'm older, and possibly because I'm a capital W Writer and therefore seem less approachable in that way. The wedding band never seemed to make a difference one way or the other.

#285 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 12:27 AM:

There was a time in my life that I got sufficiently spooked that I bought and wore a wedding band. The only person who knew me who -consciously- noticed, and asked if I had gotten married, was Jerry Pournelle.

But it did get rid of a lot of oozy creeps.

#286 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 07:17 AM:

Michelle Sagara: I particularly dislike the "What, are you a lesbian?" reply...

My favorite (as in least) was "What? I'm just trying to be nice." Wha??? Since the last thing I wanted to do was get into an argument with said dim bulb about what "nice" is and is not (and thereby prolonging the acquaintance), I started responding with, "I didn't ask you to be nice. Go away and be nice to someone else."

The one time my husband tried some sort of guilt-trip out on me, I said, "You know I don't go on guilt trips. But I do resent being presented with a ticket." One of those rare, shining moments when you spontaneously say precisely the right thing.

#287 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 08:38 AM:

John M. Ford: On the other hand, it has been reported by persons who were there at the time that Ronald Reagan wandered the White House before Reykjavik muttering "Klaatu barada nikto," and expressing a wish that Us and Them had some kind of extraterrestrial third party to join forces against.

Reagan did indeed express such a sentiment, but what very few people remember is Gorbachev's reply. Gorby said that we already had a common threat in the form of environmental degradation, and wouldn't it be nice if we could all work together against that?

Nobody in the Reagan administration took him up on the offer, probably because repairing the biosphere of the Earth wouldn't make as interesting a movie as fighting off invading space-nazis.

#288 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 10:27 AM:

Erik, if you don't mind, why do you find cryonics that off-putting? I'm neutral on the subject (I don't mind if other people want to spend the money, but I don't see much chance of success), and I can tell you pro-cryonics people are *really* rare at sf conventions.

In re _Bimbos_--I've seen quite a few fans say that it's true enough to be funny. This discussion is the first time I've seen a lot of people dislike it. I thought the most wrong-headed thing about it was the insistance that fandom is utterly inconsistant with mundane success. It's been a while since I've read _Zombies_, but I thought the underlying premise was that early zine fandom was strongly correlated with mental instability.

As for dealing with an unwanted hand-kiss, pulling your hand away rather more firmly than is physically necessary is a good way of making your point without risking getting arrested for assault.

#289 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 10:45 AM:

"I'm a bit surprised to see Patrick calling the sequel sympathetic"

CHip, that was Tom Whitmore, not me. Adjust your reality accordingly.

#290 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 12:28 PM:

Michelle: re - the lesbian query - I was out clubbing with friends, and out of all of us, I was the only one to have dragged their boyfriend along. While he and I were in a convenience store, paying for our gas, some fellows parked next to my other two friends who were chatting in front of the store.

The men proceeded to hit upon my friends (J and C) and were pleasantly rebuffed. They immediately started harrassing J and C and finally one of the men asked if J and C were lesbians. J and C look at each other, they look at the men, they look back at each other, and in unison, say, "Yes. Yes, we are lesbians."

One of the guy sticks his thumbs in his belt loops and drawls, "Did you ever date any cowboys?"

C, without blinking, says, "That's why."

The men drive off. It was beautiful.

#291 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 12:55 PM:

Mary Kay: Vince Docherty and Colin Harris, co-chairs of Interthingy, have written a reply to the Herald article which they have posted to SMOFS. If people want I can find the text and post it.

Yes, I'd like to see that, please.

#292 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 01:18 PM:

Response emailed to Mitch

MKK

#293 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Just FYI I have had the lesbian thing backfire, especially if I was standing next to another woman. Got some interesting group offers that way.

#294 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 01:37 PM:

My favorite response (used by Lesbian friends) to "All you need is one night with the right man to straighten you out" is "No, that's what you need."

(Lesbians don't automatically get a free pass on male importunity, you know?)

#295 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 02:25 PM:

Regarding pickup lines and counterlines, slashdot's comment of the day is:

"There is no substitute for good manners, except, perhaps, fast reflexes."

#296 ::: eriknelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2004, 11:24 PM:

Since someone asked, what I don't like about cryonics is it seems to be a way of preying on the gullible for their money. Further thoughts:

Surprisingly, some of the people who are into it are actually smart people. And yet this thing seems credible to them if it's wrapped in a patina of scientificness.

Is it legal? There might be inheritance fraud issues involved. There may be medical-fraud issues involved if what you are promising is eternal life.


By the way, about the Hubble Space Telescope Mirror: NASA's new slogan should be "our focus is beyond infinity"

#297 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2004, 12:35 AM:

Well, right now, it's illegal to freeze a living person. (It's what's technically known as "murder." The issue of whether it could be considered voluntary assisted suicide hasn't come up, but if it does, it should be subject to whatever the laws are on that subject.) You have to be declared dead in the usual, legal fashion, and then the cryonicists can move in. Any kind of trust or inheritance arrangements for the corpsicle's possessions must be set up in the normal fashion, while the property-holder is alive and of sound mind. People often leave their property to folks that their surviving relatives don't like, or believe are swindlers, and those wills are sometimes contested, but it's not -inherently- inheritance fraud.

And, to the best of my knowledge, nobody in the business is promising "eternal life." They're offering the possibility that, one of these days, it'll be possible to revive you (or glue/download your "neuro" into something), fix any problems, and so on. You get no more promise of immortality than the general idea that medicine is working that way. Medical fraud is when you promise something that you can't deliver. All cryonics promises is the possibility that you can be revived in a future where the promises are true, which is no more fraud than saying "This investment might go up in value eventually."

Does this mean I believe in the notion? No. I don't believe that the brain electrochemistry that creates consciousness and personality will survive the process, at least not on a level of refinement I would require. Are some of the cryonics labs swindlers? Quite possibly, though compared to the total number of medical fraudsters out there, they're in an extreme minority, and unlike, say, bogus cancer treatments, they don't actually kill people.

#298 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2004, 07:57 PM:

The DC Cryonics society has drills on getting their members into ice right after they die. They clearly think cryonics will work more than I do.

#299 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2004, 09:08 PM:

This is the first time I've seen so much dislike of Bimbos, too. The general consensus in my set is it's really quite funny, because we've all met and interacted with people fitting the stereotypes used; it's not as if they don't exist, after all. I don't think anyone I know took it as meaning to be an accurate portrayal of fandom-as-a-whole (if there is such a thing).

And it's certainly less offensive than, say, that Herald article.

#300 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2004, 01:11 AM:

I'd disagree, Tina. The Herald article was obviously intending to be funny (and included bits about the fannish sense of humor). _Bimbos_ was very mean-spirited, and got the essence of conventions wrong in a particularly nasty way: everyone portrayed as working on the convention had venial motives for doing so. And the primary motives of the vast majority of people I know who work on conventions are, in fact, noble: often it's wanting to throw a great party for their friends, sometimes it's just willingness to help their friends out. McCrumb managed to get this so completely wrong that I can't forgive her in terms of this book. It's much more subtly nasty-subversive than the Herald piece, which is so over-the-top that it almost has some humour value.

#301 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2004, 10:23 AM:

Data point: When Hilde and I were selling books at cons, BIMBOS was our best-seller. Over a 4-5 year period, we sold over a hundred copies.

#302 ::: Michelle Sagara ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2004, 02:16 PM:

I didn't care at all for BIMBOs, but in general, at least at our store, it very well received when it came out. There were parts of it I thought funny (the Tolkien signatures are the only thing I remember), but I thought it very condescending, or perhaps more accurately, smugly condenscending, and for me as a reader that never works. It's why I don't like the two Ben Elton books I've read, either.

#303 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2004, 02:21 PM:

The DC Cryonics society has drills on getting their members into ice right after they die.

That sounds like it would be hilarious to watch. I’m sure it isn’t, but it does sound like it.

I thought cryonics was cool when I was a kid reading Larry Niven’s corpsicle stories. Nowadays it just makes me think of William Burroughs’ take on mummification in The Place of Dead Roads:

Mummies are sitting ducks. No matter who you are, what can happen to your mummy is a pharaoh’s nightmare: the dreaded mummy bashers and grave robbers, scavengers, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes. Perhaps a mummy’s best friend is an Egyptologist: sealed in a glass case, kept at a constant temperature . . . but your mummy isn’t even safe in a museum. Air-raid sirens, it's the Blitz! “For Ra’s sake, get us into the vaults,” scream the mummies, without a throat, without a tongue.
Anybody buy in on a deal like that should have his mummy examined.
P.S. Tina and Nancy — I hadn’t heard this much anti-Bimbos sentiment before, either.

#304 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2004, 04:33 PM:

People who are irritated by cryonics might well like _Why Call Them Back from Heaven?_ by Clifford Simak.

#305 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2004, 01:59 AM:

The big fight over Ted Williams' remains months ago didn't show the cryonics folks in any positive light (along with showing Williams' heirs in no positive light, also). It was all sordid.

#306 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2004, 01:16 PM:

My apologies for jumping in on a conversation a week late but this line from the Herald article fascinates me:

Where would Britons be without good, honest transvestism? Texas, that's where.

I really have almost no idea what that means, but I think I'm comfortable with it, anyway.

#307 ::: Andy Perrin finds comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 08:28 AM:

Give "casino" the ace of spades, please.

#308 ::: Jolie E. Bonnette ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 07:35 PM:

Thanks for reminding people to not be brutal in the art show! LOL I definitely lurked in the art room a lot during the first con where I had my art on display. But I was doing that as much for the folks I was agenting into the show (to see if I could influence up a few more sales, which I did LOL) as for myself just to see if people were looking at my total con noob art. *snicker* I'm not sure my feelings would be hurt if someone said they didn't like my stuff, though. My stuff definitely doesn't appeal to everyone and I know that. But for some artists, it's devastating to hear people bash their art.

#310 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 03:40 PM:

Re #201, Michelle:

Another Big Name Author (whose identity will here remain a pronoun) accosted a woman rather taller than himself:

HE:      What would you say to a little f**k ?

Astra: "Hello, little f**k."     [sweeps majestically onward]
I've always liked Astra.

(So did a much nicer author, and I'm happy she made his last years more pleasant.)

#311 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2006, 06:34 PM:

Raven, I've been told on fairly good authority that that's an old Vaudeville joke, put on HE by people who don't like HE (meaning it could be almost anyone), and that HE certainly didn't actually say that to Astra or anyone else.

#312 ::: David Goldfarb notes really sleazy spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:05 AM:

I'm thinking that nobody around here needs something like that. Sheesh.

#314 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:44 AM:

Speed Seduction® is a scam based on NeuroLinguistic Programming, a.k.a. subliminally pointing at your crotch.

#315 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 06:47 AM:

Women find that seductive, Niall? I think I'd rather take knitting, which an earlier thread here seemed to suggest would make me a babe magnet.

#316 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:09 AM:

Serge,

Why not combine them both, and knit a garment with a large arrow pointing downward? Of course, as it grows, you'll have to hold your work higher and higher, which might dilute the subtlety.

#317 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:32 AM:

Apparently, guys unconsciously point subliminally at their crotches all the time while trying to chat up women. Speed Seduction® can teach you to consciously point subliminally at your crotch while simultaneously applying reinforcement via some Neurolinguistic Programming verbal cue, such as How you doin'?

#318 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 08:53 AM:

abi... as it grows, you'll have to hold your work higher and higher

I won't ask what 'it' is that'll have to be held higher and higher. Besides, I much prefer the friendship of women to the other thing.

#319 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 09:42 AM:

Serge,

Either possibility is plausible, but the more grammatically neat construction of the sentence is for the "it" to point forward to "your work".

#320 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:02 AM:

Of course, abi... I just felt like pulling your leg. Heheheh...

#321 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Many years ago, while I was in the Fleet, I knew a young sailor who was convinced that the smell of a man's crotch drives women wild. So, before going into a bar, he'd reach into his pants, grab a handful of sweat, and slap it on his face and neck.

Who knew that in later years he'd start peddling affiliate memberships in the Speed Seduction scam?

Do you want the real secret of Speed Seduction? Here it is, for free!

Don't be a jerk.

(Note: this is also a handy tip for behavior when Worldcon going.)

#322 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:23 AM:

he'd reach into his pants, grab a handful of sweat, and slap it on his face and neck.

James, I'll say (and think) to that what my wife just said:

Ewwww!!!

#323 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 10:46 AM:

My father's only useful piece of advice to me on this or any other subject: "Get 'em laughing, son, and you're half-way there."

This was the man who, at the age of seventy-three, was, I thought, taking notes about the nice things that were said at my first book launch. It turned out that he was actually writing down the telephone number of the widow-lady sitting next to him. He knew whereof he spoke, the old bugger. It's taken me twenty years, but that one incident alone has enabled me to forgive him. I have no idea how that works.

#324 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Jim Macdonald #321: That's half the recipe. The other half is: really, really listen.

#325 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:30 PM:

Isn't pointing at your crotch what ties are for?

#326 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2007, 03:40 PM:

ethan 325: Partially. But mostly they serve the function of a dog collar: to proclaim that the wearer is a Good Dog, duly owned by someone, dutifully obedient to the corporate pseudo-state.

They also make business shirts cheaper, since you can hide crappy plastic buttons behind one.

#327 ::: DavidS smells spam on WorldConGoing ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 10:11 AM:

WooHoo! I got one!

#328 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Whoa, yeah, stinky spam. *holds nose*

Incompetent too. Uses...that other coding system that isn't HTML, can't remember what it's called, on an HTML site.

#329 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 10:35 AM:

there are drugs for male strength and beauty!

Sign me up!

Not that I need any, of course.

It's for a friend.

Really.

Honest.

#330 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2008, 10:49 AM:

I liked "Hello! I am a famous doctor in the hospital." It might as well have said "SCAM SPAM BEGINS HERE."

Ooo! Costume idea: Human spam. Just a button-fan coat, but all the buttons have classic spam-cue lines on them, like "Hello and may God bless you," or (the same scam) "I am the son/daughter/widow of..." or "I am a famous doctor in the hospital" or "Our new male-enhancement formula can..." or...

Help me think up some more.

#331 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2008, 08:33 PM:

I feel pretty,
Oh, so pretty,
I feel pretty and witty and bright!
And I pity
Any girl who isn't me tonight.

#332 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 02:49 AM:

*waves wand over thread* Ariiiise! Arise from your sleep of DEAAAAATH!

@Xopher, no. 331: A dozen or so pins, each with one of the creative misspellings spammers use to get male enhancement ads past spam filters ("Bigger p3|\|i5" and the like). "Message from PayPal. We swear. Really." (Above a picture of crossed fingers.) In gradually smaller type: "SHIPPING YOUR EMBARRASSING PERSONAL ITEM--please freak out and send us your credit card info to prove you didn't order it." Also in gradually smaller type: "OUR PRODUCT IS SO CUTTING EDGE that we only recruit salespeople through unsolicited e-mail." "WE CAN MAKE YOU RICH--at least we hope you think so."

The costume could have all of the buttons inside the front flaps of a trenchcoat; the back would read "SPAM" and the letters SP AM would be on the lapels. Of course, the wearer would have to look as though he were flashing people.

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