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August 20, 2006

How to throw a large room party at a science fiction convention
Posted by Teresa at 10:09 PM * 265 comments

1. UNIVERSAL PARTY ESSENTIALS

a box of black plastic trashbags three or four rolls of paper towels, minimum
a sponge with a scrubby side
dish detergent
small paper napkins
very small, shallow, insecure paper plates
plastic serving utensils
serving containers
signage
a cheese and veggie knife
a bottle opener
a corkscrew
cash on your person, preferably in small bills
common sense
a bottle of Ibuprofen
willing minions
An extremely good idea:

While you’re out shopping, buy one or more cheap electric fans. If you only have one and you have a suite to cool, put it in a doorway facing outward.

Also nice:

A few packages of folding paper fans (sold by novelty companies, usually in packets of twelve) can do a lot to civilize things. A convention party that isn’t too loud and too hot isn’t half trying.

Less hyperthermia and less dehydration means more good conversations.

2. ROOM PREP

Get in as early as possible. Turn the thermostats to “Lunar nightside” and the AC to “Siberian blizzard”. You’re going to have a lot of radiant bodies in the room. Start laying down a basal layer of cold now.

Give yourself prep time: order dinner from room service.

You have a moral obligation to feed your party prep minions, if you have them.

If you’re in a very nice suite, remove any fragile ornaments to the top shelf of a closet. Remove all the phones (except for one, if you’re sure you’ll need it) to a dresser drawer or closet shelf. If you’re staying in the room, secure your possessions.

Optional: rearrange the furniture. If you’re using the big conference table for refreshments, move the chairs away. They’ll do more good over by the sofa and easy chairs, and removing them will keep social maladroits from sitting there and chowing down on your munchies.

Fragile little antique side tables. No good can come of them. Put them somewhere safe, where drunks can’t sit on them.

If your suite features some attractive nuisance like an oversized jacuzzi, easy access to the swimming pool, a microwave with a large viewing port, or [fill in here], do your best to block it off. Otherwise you’ll spend the rest of the evening trying to keep your guest from drowning, tracking water through the suite, slipping on wet floors, generating amusing lighting bolts, generating disgraceful anecdotes, monopolizing the bathroom, et cetera.

Pianos are a particularly attractive nuisance. If you have one, close it up, put on its cover, and turn it so the keyboard’s up against a wall. Spare your guests the embarrassment of having to be told to STOP PLAYING CHOPSTICKS NOW, or possibly GET YOUR STICKY-HANDED CHILD AND HER ALL-DAY SUCKER AWAY FROM THAT MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, or even IF THOSE ARE YOUR PEANUT SHELLS IN AMONGST THE STRINGS, YOUR AGONIZING DEATH IS IMMINENT; but mostly NO MORE CHOPSTICKS STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT AAAAARGH.

If you want to make sure you get everything back into its original position at the end of the evening, take a photo before you start.

If you have a really big suite and can spare the space, designate one small bedroom as prep, storage, and party staff decompression space.

See whether the windows open. You’ll want to know later on. Even a couple of inches can make a huge difference in a room’s livability.

Have a designated lost & found box or drawer. People leave the damnedest things behind at parties.

Check with the committee before taping stuff to walls and doors. You don’t want to have to replace their woven grass wallpaper. If the hotel has a no-stickum policy but you’re desperate to put up a few bits, stick them to the mirrors. Masking tape is always better than cellophane tape. (If you’re using Duct Tape, you’re with General Technics, and don’t need my advice.)

By report, 3M now makes a soft plastic sheet that will cling to just about anything, and can have signage or decorations taped to it. These supposedly come in pads, and can be had from any large office-supply outlet. They still shouldn’t be stuck on woven grass wallpaper.

Most hotels have strict smoking policies. Follow them. (You too, Norman.) If you’re not in a nonsmoking zone but you don’t want smoking anyway, put up signs to that effect. If you can spare a room for a smoking area, put up a sign for that too. Don’t send asthmatic minions to clean or restock the smoking room.

Go ahead and ask the hotel for more and bigger wastebaskets. Lord knows you’re going to need them. Line them with black plastic trashbags before the party starts. If you’re rich in closet space, lay trashbags down on the floor of one closet and stage your bags of garbage there as they accumulate.

If you need a protective covering for the floor, you’re holding the wrong sort of party, and you’re going to scare the hotel just by asking for it.

3. REFRESHMENTS

General principles:

At successful parties, people don’t tend to move a lot. If it’s crowded, they can’t move. If it isn’t crowded, they’ll get into absorbing conversations, and they still won’t move. It is thus important to not feed them stuff that requires them to dispose of the remains. Only an exceptionally tidy fan will step away from an intense conversation to dispose of cherry stones, citrus peels, apple cores, cheese rinds, candy wrappers, paper collars, little toothpicks, or other detritus. It is likewise important to locate dips or salsas immediately adjacent to the snacky bits that are meant to be dipped in them.

If you have a multi-roomed suite, distribute your munchies throughout the rooms, so that people don’t have to abandon their conversations to go in search of sustenance.

Don’t put everything out at once. It’ll be messy and excessive, and encourage raiding.

Oversized portions will be absentmindedly consumed by your cheerfully distracted guests. Do everyone a favor: buy smaller sizes.

Never serve anything you wouldn’t eat yourself. It shows a lack of respect for your guests. You want to make them feel special, and welcome, and at the same time keep them just a bit on their toes. If you cheap out with indestructible cookies, off-brand sodas, and canoe beer, it’ll take the sparkle out of the evening. Buy less of better stuff, if your budget’s tight. If you run out, people will either leave or they won’t. Either way, you’ll have a nice party.

If there’s no corkage waiver, think twice before sneaking a bunch of party supplies past the hotel staff. That trick worked a lot better in bygone days when rooms weren’t put on credit cards the minute you checked in. If a decent party is impossible, pass the word around that on a specific night, you and yours are going to be holding down a corner of the bar. On the night, bribe the bartender to turn the TV down.

How to bribe a bartender: First, make sure no one else is within earshot. Then, say “How much would I have to bribe you to turn down the music?” Be cheerful and ingenuous. Have the money ready. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to use a credit card.

Snacks:

You’re not feeding people. You’re amusing them.

If it melts or goes limp in a warm room, perhaps you shouldn’t serve it.

When you’re dealing with non-fans, the purpose of fancy exotic fruits is to decorate fruit-and-cheese platters so people can feel swankier while eating the same seedless green grapes they always eat. If you lay on the same spread for fans, the exotic stuff will get eaten. And discussed.

Further ruminations on fruit.

Meat-based munchies are expensive, greasy, and not really necessary. You can maybe put out a few slices of hard sausage, stuff like that. You don’t have to serve lox to the teeming hordes.

Remember to pick up serving dishes when you’re buying party snacks. If naught else availeth, get disposable aluminum roasting pans.

For pete’s sake, go ahead and buy the made-up fruit platters, carrot sticks, celery sticks, and broccoli and cauliflower bits. You’re at the worldcon. Don’t waste half a day of it doing finicky food prep, unless it’s the only way you can make your budget stretch.

Costco is your friend.

If you want to make your crudites last longer, don’t put a container of ranch dip next to them. Do the crudites-and-ranch-dip thing if you want to use them as a buffer for your sliced summer sausage, chocolate-dipped strawberries, miniature cream puffs, and other fast-moving goodies.

I have never seen a convention party eat an entire wheel of Brie. I have likewise never seen a party leave more than a scraped rind of Mimolette. I’m just sayin’.

If you put out smaller dishes of mixed salted nuts, people will be quicker to finish picking out the cashews, almonds, and pecans, and will actually get some of the peanuts eaten before you come around to refresh the bowl.

A few bags of inexpensive seasonal candies (jellybeans, conversation hearts, whatever) and small hard cookies (ginger snaps are always good for this) will make a good show, and will greatly lessen your chances of running out of refreshments. If they wind up having to be thrown out afterward, it’s no great loss. Note: small hard candies are okay; larger ones are not. You can’t talk around them.

Very small insecure paper plates will enable your guests to load up a handful of cookies or veggie bits and carry them off to wherever they’re conversing, but won’t encourage malfeasants to carry off a half-pound of chocolates when they leave.

Don’t mix haploid and diploid M&Ms. In general, don’t mix snacks. Every time you mix two snacks together, you increase the chances that the entire combination is now untouchable for some people.

If some snacks are kosher, low-sugar, low-salt, or otherwise a special concession to difficult diets, label them so that everyone else will leave them alone.

Get plain, basic crackers. At a good party, nobody’s paying attention to the crackers.

Go light on the excessively smelly foods.

People who have fragile teeth, and who aren’t familiar with the interesting properties of Corn Nuts, Jolly Rancher candies, or other dental hazards, can get themselves into a world of trouble. Best not to put that stuff out.

Consider labeling blazingly spicy snacks like wasabi peas.

This probably won’t come up, but something alchemically awful happens when you combine those glossy little Japanese rice cracker snacks with Clamato juice. It’s not unhealthy; it just makes you want to scrub your tongue off with a Brillo pad.

Beverages:

As you know, Bob, one of the most distinctive features of fannish convention parties is the bathtub full of ice, sodas, and beer.

Some people hold that if you have two bathrooms, you should put the beer in one bathtub and the soda in the other. I’ve come to disagree with this view, as it can be difficult to reach one bathroom, much less get to two so you can bring back the other sort of drink for your sweetie.

Mid-afternoon is not too early to make arrangements for ice for the bathtubs. Make sure you know how big your hotel’s ice tubs are before agreeing on a number and price. Make very sure you specify delivery times.

Consider lining the bathtub with a cheap plastic shower curtain or some black plastic garbage bags to prevent scratching and other damage.

If you have plenty of ice and then some, open the bathtub stopper. If what you have is no more than you need, or perhaps a bit less than that, close the stopper. Your guests will have to do some fishing around in cold water, but at least the drinks will be chilled.

If you’re late getting your drinks into the ice, adding some water to the mix will make them get cold faster.

Dumping ice in a bathtub is fast. Laying down a proper assortment of soda and beer takes longer.

Restock often. Stack the extra six-packs under the bathroom sink to make restocking easier. Save the cardboard sixpack containers. You’re going to need them to hold the empties.

Single-serving cans and bottles of soda, beer, and cider are just about perfect. If you’re serving other beverages, have someone from the home team do the pouring. It keeps everyone out of trouble.

If you’re pouring beverages from larger containers, you’re going to need A LOT of glasses. Get the little ones that are about the size of an old-fashioned glass.

Do not serve alcohol to minors. Ever.

Hard liquor isn’t a good idea unless (1.) you’re holding a relatively quiet party for people you already know; or (2.) you’re doing the pouring and serving yourself. The aforementioned tendency of partygoers to become immobile means that people who are near the hootch can wind up having way too much to drink. Particularly dangerous: that state where you’re overheated and thirsty, but a bit too drunk and distracted to realize that drinking what’s in your glass will not help.

Very dark, heavy beers sound like a good idea when you’re buying supplies, but lighter brews like bitter, ale, pale ale, and Corona-with-a-lime will go over better when the party heats up. Cider’s increasingly popular, and always disappears fast. Don’t forget to pick up a couple of sixers of non-alcoholic beer, even if you don’t know who’s going to be drinking it.

It never hurts to have a bit of string to tie the bottle opener to some handy projection.

You’re allowed to smack anyone you catch using a drawer pull to open a bottle.

Soda proportions:
4-6 parts Coke or Pepsi
2 parts Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi
2 parts lemon-lime soda
2 parts flavored unsweetened selzer, if avail.
1-2 parts orange, root beer, ginger ale
4. THE PROPER CONDUCT OF PARTIES

If you don’t want the whole convention showing up, don’t announce your party in the daily newsletter. If you don’t want strangers knocking on your door, don’t put a party sign on it.

If you’re giving your party for a specific group, be courteous to confused fans who show up thinking it’s a general occasion. It costs you nothing to be polite, it’ll spare them a great deal of painful embarrassment, and you won’t have to hear about what awful elitists y’all are for the rest of your days in the SF community.

How to issue a semi-general invitation without putting it in the daily newsletter: As soon as you know your date, place, and time, start telling it people and asking them to pass it on. If you’re terribly terribly organized, you can have it printed on a bunch of little paper squares to press into people’s hands as you pass them in the hallways.

You never know for sure how many people are going to show up.

A useful formula for occasions when you need to seriously ingratiate yourself with the hotel staff: “We know that your people will be going to a lot of extra effort for this convention, and believe me, we’ll be properly appreciative when they do; but right now we’d just like to show some of our appreciation in advance.” Optionally: “We’d just like to show some of our appreciation in advance. What would be a good amount?”

If you’re having a really big party that’s open to all, you have to have someone at the door at all times. People who’ve been looked at and greeted are far less likely to misbehave.

Chances are you’ll also have to have someone periodically go up and down the corridor outside, clearing a path and telling people to keep the noise down. Noise in the corridor is likelier to get a party shut down than whatever’s happening inside.

Circulate, tidy up, refresh, refill, consolidate. Then do it again. Bus the party as you go. If you wanted to sit still and have a good time, you should have gone to someone else’s party.

A guest who has prematurely gone to sleep on a prime piece of couch real estate should be gently wakened, and if possible offered an escort to their room.

You can allow or discourage children. It’s your choice. What you can’t allow is parents leaving their children unattended at your party while they slip off elsewhere.

Do not agree to take responsibility for parcels, art, mysterious brown paper bags, etc., which belong to people you don’t know well.

Public lewdness, illegal drugs, foul language, zero tolerance. It doesn’t matter whether they still have their clothes on. If what they’re doing reads as sex, they have to leave.

Living organisms may not be brought in on a leash. Pets are right out, too.

Be a little wary of partygoers who aren’t wearing convention badges, especially if they don’t look like convention attendees. They may be perfectly all right, but you need to know who they are, and let them know they’ve been noticed. Shaking hands and asking their names will usually do it.

If you didn’t intend to hold a gaming party or music party, you’re not obliged to give space to displaced musicians or gamers, unless you like the idea. In general, unless you’re hosting a music party, don’t play music.

Never allow anyone to turn on a TV unless there’s something specific and limited you all want to watch, or there’s an emergency blowing up, or something epochally historical is happening. When the show or the news cycle is over, turn it off.

Don’t hesitate to quietly and good-humoredly shush a conversation group that’s getting raucous.

Loud drunks, combative arguers, unpleasant acting-out, impromptu huckstering, people who Need To Get A Room, etc., can all be handled the same way: a light hand on the shoulder, a pleasant half-smile, and the words “Not here.” If they look confused, or disinclined to admit that they understand what you’re saying, add a specification and repeat the message:
“You’re getting a bit loud. Not the place for it.”

“Argument. Take it somewhere else.”

“This is not the Dealers’ Room.”

“You need to find a room. This isn’t it.”

If someone makes you uncomfortable, go with your gut.

5. AFTERMATH

Agree beforehand about when you’re going to close up shop, bearing in mind that if 0300 comes and you’re stuck fast in a discussion of Kirkegaard’s recipe for chocolate chip banana bread, you and the minions might want to renegotiate.

Work out in advance who’s responsible for shutting down and cleaning up after the party. If you don’t realize that you’ve all gotten exhausted before you start shutting down the party, you’ll hate each other before you’re finished with cleanup.

If party guests offer to help clean up, smile and say, “Why, thank you!” and give them a task. There’s no such thing as too many helpers.

It’s fairly effective to make a cheerful announcement that anyone who’s still around after the cutoff time is volunteering for the cleanup crew. If they go, that’s good. If they stay, that’s even better.

If you have a lot of leftovers, offer them to your minions. If they don’t want them, give the leftovers to the convention for the consuite, or for redistribution to other parties. If you’re far from home, “leftovers” includes the electric fan.

If you just have the suite for one night, don’t count on being able to get in and reclaim stuff next morning unless you’ve made specific arrangements to do so. Otherwise, pack it out or kiss it goodbye.

Put the furniture back where you found it. Same goes for the ornaments and phones. It spares the hotel a few minutes’ panic before they find all that stuff you stashed on the closet shelf.

You don’t have to recycle your bottles. It’s enough to leave them tidily stacked in their cardboard six-packs. Let the hotel or the staff have the bottle deposit.

TIP THE STAFF. No matter how tidy you are, the aftermath of a big party is still going to be a chore for the chambermaids.
(Thanks for additional observations and suggestions to Madeleine Robins, Don Fitch, Bruce Adelsohn, CHip Hitchcock, Christopher Hatton, and P J Evans.)
Note: Two years ago, we posted assorted bits of advice for writers attending their first SF convention. It’s as useful now as it was then.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on How to throw a large room party at a science fiction convention:
#1 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 10:47 PM:

Man, I'm in convention mode now just from reading that.

#2 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 10:49 PM:

Wow. This is comprehensive and deeply sensible. And you used one of my suggestions! Is it awfully childish to be really, really pleased by that?

#3 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:11 PM:

I think you've gotten way too carried away here, but it's all pretty good advice.

One personal wish: when buying beer, don't make all the interesting beer be "Amber," or other kinds of beer for people who basically like sweet stuff. Get some seriously dry beers -- IPAs or the like.

I know it's obvious to you, but I don't think you mentioned: if you're making any kind of signs for the party (whether to announce it elsewhere, or to identify places and objects and purposes in the party suite itself), make them Big and Clear and Darkly Written, and post them where people's eyes will naturally tend to look. Otherwise they're pointless.

Your account actually makes a huge party sound like fun. Sometimes they are. Hope you have fun at some next weekend, whether you're hosting them or not.

John

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:19 PM:

John, if I picked out all the beer, it'd be 60%-75% IPAs and ESBs to start.

#5 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:25 PM:

Great. I only found one thing I disagreed with: If you need a protective covering for the floor, you're holding the wrong sort of party. since I admire the way the Seattle Potlatch consuites lay down a plastic bag and duct tape shield at the drinks end, which also do often feature kegs. (Kegs are not housebroken, even when everybody involved is sane and as sober as can be expected with a keg in the room.) On the other hand, I suspect a Potlatch con suite doesn't count as a "large room party" on this scale. Which is one of the reasons I as usual am not coming to Worldcon; hope everybody who is has a great time.

#6 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:27 PM:

I have one question. You write Living organisms may not be brought in on a leash. Pets are right out, too.

You're going to think I'm kidding, but I'm really not: does this mean that if I bring my Boy, and he's wearing his collar, I can't attach his leash? I mean, I'll have him well trained before I bring him to any con parties, but I think he kind of likes wearing it.

Bluntly: is this rule specifically intended to prohibit human leashing of the leather/fetish variety?

#7 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:29 PM:

I didn't know there was Empire Strikes Back beer. I know it was the best movie, but...

*grin*

Good advice, really, for most parties. Some of it is con-specific, of course, but much of it isn't, and applies equally well to a good chunk of, say, college parties.

And Xopher, I assumed that's what that rule was for...but the rules would surely change at a leather/fetish party or con.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:33 PM:

A leash in a crowded room? Bad idea all 'round.

#9 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:35 PM:

if I picked out all the beer, it'd be 60%-75% IPAs and ESBs to start
The trouble with hoppy beer is that if it's full of Bavarian hops all is fine, but these days in the US (especially the Western US) it's probably Cascade hops which are just too sharp for me. Sometimes I wish the Sonoma/Mendocino hop growing areas hadn't all been replanted with Vinus vinifera so I could taste beer made from those hops, but then I have some of the wine that's being made instead, and I think we're pretty well off.

#10 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:35 PM:

I'd plead with party hosts to have a higher proportion of diet sodas than suggested here. They always seem to be the first to vanish and I can't drink the other kind. I buy roughly equal amts of diet and non diet when I throw a party and I never have diet left over, only non diet.

MKK

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:39 PM:

Unsweetened flavored seltzer doesn't count? Some of us can't drink soda with Aspartame in it.

Anyway, those proportions have been arrived at by the rough and ready method of seeing what's left over when the party ends. If you've got four sixpacks of root beer, the root beer allotment gets reduced next time.

You should see the pizza rule of thumb. I've only seen it fail once.

#12 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:45 PM:

The diets/regulars bit probably highly depends on crowd, even more so than some of the other factors. Personally, I rarely drink non-diet, thanks to years of instilling from my mother. Even buying it feels weird. But yeah, if you have aspartame issues, then diets are out...

I imagine that, if the party goes on long enough, the minions are willing, and there are convenient markets, emergency runs to all-night groceries are not unheard of.

#13 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:46 PM:

MKK: I'd plead with party hosts to have a higher proportion of diet sodas than suggested here.
In these days of modern times, the one thing that seems to be impossible to have enough of is bottled water. Fizzy water is OK but flat is even more important. It's the one thing everybody can drink, it's the one thing everybody should drink. For those going to Worldcon, especially from places that have good tap water like the north SF Peninsula and NYC, note that Anaheim tap water is brackish goo from the lower part of the Colorado River. Bottled water is required.

#14 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2006, 11:49 PM:

You don't have to serve lox to the teeming hordes.

*gasp*

I'm not sure how well they stick to grass wallpaper, but Post-it makes poster-sized, well, post-its now.

#15 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:10 AM:

A quick and potentially useless bit of trivia which is germane: beverages in ice water cool faster, beverages in salty ice water cool fastest.

Problem being, the salty bit. This is probably good for bottles, but is gonna be sucky for cans.

(Ahh, Mythbusters...)

#16 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:53 AM:

The thing with diet/non-diet sodas is that the choices always seem to force people to choose between caffeine and calories. I adore restaurants that serve up diet lemon-lime or caffeine-free Coke. If it's late at night and I don't want to light up like Buzzy the Hummingbird, I may not want to sugar up, either, because these days I don't need all the extra empty calories. I know at a private party it's extra work for the hosts, but these days more and more people are calorie-conscious. Plain bottled water is okay, too.

#17 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 01:28 AM:

Teresa and Will @11 & 12,

Splenda may have changed the diet drinks ratio, or the diet drink equation.

When having parties I've found that diet drinks like Hansens- Splenda only- will disappear in about the same ratio as they were purchased / put out. This implies to me that for a reasonably large percentage of the partying population, Splenda and corn syrup drinks are substitutes.

In the deep past, I would never have seen guests being indifferent between sugared and evil-aspertamed drinks.

#18 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 01:52 AM:

Oh, this is a lovely list!

thanks to Rich for the tap-water-quality (or lack thereof) warning: I will duly bring ye bottled water.

#19 ::: Marna ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 02:10 AM:

That is a fabulous list.

Two possible additions:

People with potentially fatal allergies are used to packing in a lot of our own food to cons and holding our peace and sticking to the drinks at parties. We are therefore easy to please: you know those lunchbox packets of salty snacks? Hand us a couple of small _sealed_ packets of just about anything with no warning on it and you will become The Nicest Host Ever.

Also, Candy Lego + fans = a small table to play with it on = hours of fun.

#20 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 03:10 AM:

Brita rules ok.

#21 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 03:12 AM:

Brita rules ok.
OK, not really, but I am so resentful of the bottled water racket that I wish it did.

A couple of weeks ago I volunteered at a fundraising event which contemplated among other things people queueing up on a hot stair. There are few things more morally satisfying that running up and down offering little bottles of water to the thirsty.

#22 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 04:07 AM:

Minor typo: "pass the word around that one a specific night"

I've had good experiences with disposable cutting sheets. They hold up well, and they can easily be washed or rinsed in the sink. They can be used for serving too. One pack of 20 is good for several parties.

If you don't have a suite with a kitchen, and you need to use a bathroom for food prep and washing up, try to make it off limits and direct your guests to the other bathroom for using the toilet. I have this thing about sanitation. If you don't have another bathroom, please consider treats that won't require prepping or washing up during the party.

When you are buying food, imagine spilling a bowl of it on the carpet and several people accidentally walking over it and grinding it in. If that scenario is problematic, buy something else. Chips, nuts and veggies are very good. Cheese is okay. Chocolate is okay in small pieces -- chopping chunks off a big block inevitably produces thousands of small shavings, many of which end up on the floor. Salsa is a hazard. Chili is evil -- it stains anything it touches.

#23 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 04:21 AM:

Another good reason to avoid oversized portions is that at least some of the people will eat directly out of whatever container is in reach. When I see a friend eating directly out of a half gallon tub of cheese dip, I am thankful that I don't like the stuff, 'cause there's no way I'm going to eat it after what I saw.

#24 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 04:31 AM:

Rich @ 9: have you tried anything from here? I'm not a beer drinker, but the locals tell me it's good stuff.

And the winery linked in that same post? It's less than ten miles away, and we're driving down. If there's anything we can bring down south, put your orders in soonest.

#25 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 06:25 AM:

I would very much like to know the pizza rule.

#26 ::: Karen C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 07:35 AM:

I appreciate minimalism in the work of giving parties. One of my most successful was done with this as the entirety of the party's service pieces: my Swiss Army knife, a roll of freezer paper made into origami serving dishes (it's plastic coated on one side), a piece of dental floss to cut the cake and the soft cheeses, and whatever was in the room to start with.

#27 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 07:36 AM:

TomB, thanks for the typo catch.

#28 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 08:42 AM:

If you're using Duct Tape, you're with General Technics, and don't need my advice

We don't use Duct Tape. It doesn't stick to ducts, and it doesn't come off anything else cleanly. Indeed, cheap duct tape is the bane of existence. Good duct tape, namely, foil tape, does stick to sucts, and is worthy stuff.

Duck Tape is useful only as a prop at Duckon, and then, just barely. Stay away from the stuff. Cheap duct tape doesn't hold well, but does leave tape residue anywhere, esp. if it gets about 100F.

The One True Tape is gaffer tape, but even that isn't ideal for all uses.

For hotel and party signs, the answer is clear, 3M Scotch-Blue Painter's Masking Tape, PN 2090. It costs about $5 a roll. It is cheap at five times the price. Cheap tape can damage paint or wallpaper. 3M 2090 was made to be stuck to paint for 14 days, and come off cleanly.

For the paranoid, and for brand new hotels, or for hotels costing more than $500 a night rack, 3m Scotch-Blue Painter's Tape For Delicate Surfaces, PN 2080. It costs more, it won't hold anything up but a piece of paper (and if the wall is dirty, it won't even hold that) but if there is anything that will not damage the surface, this is it. It also costs more. I don't stock 2080 in the hotel kits, but I will buy it if I sense or find a need. 2090 is the right answer 99% of the time.

Ask for them by name. Cheap blue tape is often cheap masking tape on a blue paper backing, and has the same problems as regular cheap masking tape -- either it doesn't hold, or it holds too well and wrecks the surface.

Note that the adhesion of these tapes is low -- by design. They won't hold up much more than themselves and a bit of paper -- but that's enough for a sign.

Avoid 3M 2020, which is the production painting tape. It isn't safe to use on a wall for more than a day. This is fine in production work, where the tape may be on the surface for a couple of hours, and thus, the extra tack is safe, but in a hotel, you're likely to hang a sign, come by in a day or so, and find that it doesn't want to come off. Great tape, for what it is made for, but not useful here. (Compare to blue thread locker, which is really useful, and red thread locker, is which is really useful, but you had better be sure that you never want to move that bolt again.)

For heavier taping jobs, gaffer tape. However, gaff has one problem. The cheap stuff that you really shouldn't use costs about $20 a roll.

Many hotels have gaff that matches their carpets in function areas. If you have to tape down cords, ask them about it. Even if you have gaffer tape, if the hotel sees you using their tape, they feel better, and their tape is usually cheaper. Not always, ask -- they may charge $50 a roll (which for top grade gaff, is only somewhat unreasonable. That's what a single roll would cost you, but they get cases at wholesale.) Sometimes, they'll give it to you for free to keep their carpets safe. Be polite, and offer the short end back to them -- if they say keep it, then you keep it.


#29 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 09:18 AM:

Another useful one:

If there are going to be parties held in the suite all weekend and you don't want all the drink to be drunk up on Friday, find somewhere else to hide it. Turns out that this is incredibly important if you are in Massachusetts and it's Memorial Day Weekend. A deputation had to drive from Boston to New Hampshire on a beer run. I figured it was a case of Live Free Or Dry.

#30 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 09:55 AM:

See? The General Technics guy knows, like, everything about tape.

#31 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 10:32 AM:

Please tell us the Pizza Rule. I am convinced that solving the Pizza Problem for N people takes AT LEAST N^N time.

#32 ::: ctate ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 10:38 AM:

Far be it from me to pretend to bless Erik Olson's statements about tape, but here's an observation based on recently doing some plaster repair and repainting in the house:

If you have never used painters' tape, you have no idea how wonderful the stuff is. It's uncanny.

#33 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Re: Nos. 30 & 28

Sounds like Mr. Olson's an alumnus of the Scotch Boutique, of SNL fame.

#34 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Here's what I know about pizza.

I always ask for thin crust, not being the natural target of the "Dough Lover" pizzas. Everybody else says they want thick crust, but just to humor me, they order a thin crust pizza or two. Those are always the first ones to go, and I swear I'm not the one who eats them up.

#35 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:04 AM:

For the curious, this is what a corkage wavier is all about. The wiki is pretty interesting looking - perhaps TNH would like to contribute to it?

I had never heard of mimolette before, but I did find a nice description. The name reminds me of the Foglio's mimmoths ( pic). (And l33t mimeographs, but that's another story.)

-r.

#36 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:06 AM:

Oh look at that, you've been Boingboinged!
Welcome, everybody, beer's in the tub!

-r.

#37 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:25 AM:

Public lewdness, illegal drugs, foul language, zero tolerance. It doesn't matter whether they still have their clothes on. If what they're doing reads as sex, they have to leave.

//sigh// I suppose you're right about a Worldcon party, but I guess that's why I like Lower East Side parties so much better...

Oh, and if you're looking for typos: Kierkegaard

#38 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:27 AM:

I'll echo Marna's advice: Unopened packets are best for people who are picky about food, for one reason or another. If that's not possible, keeping empty food containers near foodstuffs can be helpful, provided that they're they're the sort of thing that doesn't take up too much space -- a flattened bag or box can give a good deal of useful information.

Oh, and: Unless you're an expert, don't assume that you know what's kosher, and what isn't. Even if you are an expert, be aware that individual standards differ.

#39 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:29 AM:

A leash in a crowded room? Bad idea all 'round.

*thinks about it*

*shudders at the possibilities*

OK, you're right. Wow. I guess I'll just tell him to Heel!

On the matter of diet sodas, I've found that this is one area where the off-brand ones are actually better: I refer to the subset that are sweetened exclusively with Splenda, which no national brand is (I think they all have contracts with NutraSweet). Splenda tastes a LOT better than aspartame, and unlike aspartame it keeps indefinitely. (Ever taken a swig from an old can of aspartame soda? The two amino acids that make up aspartame dissociate over time, and individually they taste HORRIBLE.)

Also, I understand that Splenda is the first artificial sweetener that was approved without significant problems, instead of despite them. They knew that aspartame gave some people problems and approved it anyway; my sources tell me that Splenda actually showed no problems. I got awful headaches (and occasionaly visual distortions) from aspartame, but drink Splenda with no ill effects whatsoever.

#40 ::: example example ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:31 AM:

You overlooked "if anyone appears to be tying his girlfriend to the sprinkler head, please stop him before he causes serious hydrological problems."

#41 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:34 AM:

Oh, and: Unless you're an expert, don't assume that you know what's kosher, and what isn't. Even if you are an expert, be aware that individual standards differ.

SueRay Rosenfeld told me this joke: A Satmar (ultraOrthodox-even-for-Hasidim Hasidic sect) goes to heaven, and the recording angel invites her to the heavenly feast.

"That's lovely," she says. "Who's doing the kosher supervision, please?"

"Why, G-d Himself," says the angel.

"All right," says the Satmar. "I'll just have a glass of water."

#42 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:35 AM:

And Alter: an expert WOULD be aware that individual standards differ!

#43 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:38 AM:

Since the expert is in da house, what's the word on blue tack?

#44 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:39 AM:

Expert on adhesives, I meant. I plead post overlap.

#45 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:39 AM:

Perfect timing! Just as I was beginning to freak out in earnest over the podcast party suite that I'll be co-running this weekend.

Thank you, from the bottom of my rapidly hardening little heart.

#46 ::: Kornkob ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:40 AM:

"If you need a protective covering for the floor, you're holding the wrong sort of party, and you're going to scare the hotel just by asking for it."

I have to say this is just incorrect.

1) any convention that has such weak relations with the hotel that the hotel is 'scared' by such requests isn't a well run convetion. Hotel relations is key to long term success for a con.

2) there is cheap, easily installed plastic protecitve sheeting for sale at most carpet and paint stores. 200 feet by 2 feet for about $30. In a hotel with light carpet, this can be a life saver.

I've been throwing parties at science fiction conventions for years and while much of the advice is good, protecting the floors, especially from food and beverage stains, is cheap, effective and can save you hundreds in hotel 'cleaning' fees.

#47 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:47 AM:

LOL TomB! I'm pretty sure blue tack isn't kosher, but individual standards vary! (And IANAR.)

#48 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:49 AM:

Xopher: An expert might well know that he's right, and everyone else is wrong. And while that might be true, in some sense of the word, it's not useful.

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:50 AM:

any convention that has such weak relations with the hotel that the hotel is 'scared' by such requests isn't a well run convetion

This is LA Con we're talking about (currently). Were you at WorldCon in 1984?

Sy no mowah!

#50 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Oh, sorry Alter. I didn't realize that "if you are an expert" is directed not at people who have actual credentials or training in kasherut, but who simple consider themselves experts...far more common. Sorry; you're right of course.

#51 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:58 AM:

Sounds like Mr. Olson's an alumnus of the Scotch Boutique, of SNL fame.

Heh -- no.

The above is a combination of Geek Answer Syndrome and having been burned one too many times by people making assumptions about components.

Too many times, I've said "We need blue tape" and gotten something that it either blue and tapelike, except for the way it fails to stick to anything, or something that develops an instant and undying love for paint and wallpaper, and will die before it parts with it.

People often think they're doing you a favor by getting the lowest cost part they can. They're not out to make your life hard, but they end up doing so. So, I've learned to spec properly.

So, If someone's shopping and doesn't know tape, I can ask for blue tape, and probably get stuff that damages the hotel or fails to stick to anything. Or I can tell them "3M blue tape, PN 2090, the 14 day painter tape. If you can't find that tape, call me. Don't buy any other 3M tape without calling me."

(Aside #1 - 3M has a tape and glue for everything, but the wrong tape or glue is very bad news. There's a real difference between Super 77 and High Strength 90 spray glues. Using the wrong one wrecks things.)

(Aside #2 - Can we give thanks for the miracle that is Super 77? Amen.)

What I've really learned is that 3M 2090 goes into the convention kit -- and for a Worldcon, two rolls go -- one to keep, one to share. But if you're buying your own, Ask For It By Name. Both Home Depot and Lowes stock the stuff, and any reasonably sized paint or home repair center will have it as well.

$5 may be expensive compared to $2, but it is cheap compared to $100 + for hotel damage.

Since the expert is in da house, what's the word on blue tack?

Often bad news. Most blue tacks have some oil, most hotel walls are latex or paper - bad combination, you get oil staining. Theoretically, good blue tack should be just fine, but I've never seen good blue tack, just the cheap stuff you get at a corner store.

Blue tack works great on glass, though. Best hack -- printing color transparencies, blue tack to outside window. Done correctly, it is a lovely faux stained glass effect.

If 3M makes a dozen versions of blue tack, one of them will certainly be the correct one. (This is, of course, why 3M makes six kinds of blue masking tape, and dozens of not-blue tape.)

MCFI, during their last bid, discovered these little wonders -- reuseable, no damage, and unlike blue tape, can hold more than an ounce. They're harder to use and more expensive (so don't lose that roll of 2090) but for hanging lights and such, they're a very good answer. I don't know if they discovered problems with them later, but the report was they'd used them many times with no problem

MCFI/NESFA also found the plastic sheets that can hold up paper via static electricity (at least, they told me about it.) The stuff does work -- if a hotel has surfaces that are damaged by electrostatic potention in the low kV range, they've got far worse problems than the walls -- but it is fairly ugly, and putting it on the wall can be entertaining. I've heard you want the people with short hair doing the work.

#52 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:09 PM:

Actually, Xopher, the rabbi in charge of kashrut at Yeshiva University during my years there got stung with something along those lines. Being an actual halachic expert doesn't preclude you from making poor judgements about people.

(In that case, there was a certification organization that many Orthodox people don't consider good enough. He did, and let products with that certification be used in the cafeteria. His logic was that he knew more than the people who didn't consider it good enough. This didn't go over well.)

On another tangent, things that aren't catagorized as edible generally aren't included in the list of kashrut regulations; the reason why gelatin products aren't generally considered kosher has to do with oversight of the process -- in terms of strict halacha, most adhesives are probably kosher, even if they're made from non-kosher animals. (Although, yes, there are some people who wouldn't agree with that.)

#53 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:18 PM:

I wish I'd known these things twenty-odd years ago, when I was helping to run convention parties. I shall steer some of the other subculture conrunners I know here, with a firm, "Read and remember."

"This probably won't come up, but something alchemically awful happens when you combine those glossy little Japanese rice cracker snacks with Clamato juice. It's not unhealthy; it just makes you want to scrub your tongue off with a Brillo pad."

Not that most people have it at parties, but I've heard/seen the same reaction with the rice crackers and one of the V-8 drinks. (Mostly followed by "You gotta try this! It's awful!" That's what I like about my friends -- how much they share.)

#54 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:20 PM:

You mean to use as adhesives, right? Not if you eat them? (As a person who ate a fair amount of masking tape as a toddler, Inquiring Minds Want To Know.)

#55 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Oh, no. There are a few non-kosher things that are sufficiently not kosher that halacha prohibits Jews from getting any benefit from them. To the best of my knowledge, none of them are generally used in adhesives (if, for instance, every roll of masking tape was worshipped as a god as it left the factory, that would be problematic). No, I mean that even if you have one of those old traditional horse hoof glues, there are solid halachic reasons not to consider eating it a violation of kashrut.

There aren't necessarily solid reasons to eat it, halachic or otherwise, but that's neither here nor there.

#56 ::: Debra Fran Baker ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:26 PM:

On the topic of sodas in general -

Con suites can be compared to a weekend long party.

When I stock a con suite, I try to maintain parity of diet vs. nondiet. There are enough older/dieting fans (or people with blood sugar problems) that anything less is asking for trouble. In fact, I tend to run out of diet before nondiet.

I also make sure to include both major cola brands, and a good proportion of non-caffeine (say 1/3 of the colas)sodas - cola, lemon-lime and ginger ale, in both diet and non-diet. Yes, I do make sure to have "brown" - caffeine-free diet colas. I also include at least some selzers.

In my last con suite, which was Conterpoint 2004, I also had bottled water, and that went over well.

I've also found the local brands are a good source for flavors like orange or root beer, as well as purely local flavors like birch beer or "black cherry wizaski" (sp?). This lowers the costs, and makes the selection a lot more interesting.

#57 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:33 PM:

If, for instance, every roll of masking tape was worshipped as a god as it left the factory, that would be problematic.

Hmm. I apologize if I've made Super 77 unkosher.

(But it *is* worthy of devotion, darn it.)

#58 ::: Tammy Coxen ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:36 PM:

It's fairly effective to make a cheerful announcement that anyone who's still around after the cutoff time is volunteering for the cleanup crew. If they go, that's good. If they stay, that's even better.

If your party goes long enough, I've found that it's easy to recruit the stragglers for cleanup duty with promises to go out for breakfast when you're all done.

Excellent post - you've really hit all the bases. Makes me very sad to be missing LAcon and all the parties therein. :-(

#59 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:38 PM:

Hmm...what is the common thread among the sff community:

Asperger's?
psychotropic drugs?
College degrees in obscure subjects?
Asthma?
OCBs?
A huge pile of books next to the bed they will get to Someday?

Umm...no, wait!...process geeks!

I suggest toothpicks vs. forks. People make sure they've toothpicked something. They assume a fork will work and it don't always. Bonus: at some point, someone will use the toothpicks with different color cheese chunks to prove a point about chemical composition.

#60 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:41 PM:

I know I can't do kosher food preparation without screwing up, but Minicon's over Easter weekend, so Passover's never far away. Having some kosher snacks is a good idea. My idea of how to do this is to buy sternly kosher snacks in sealed containers, and have sealed packages of napkins and plastic bowls for serving the snacks. Eventually, someone who keeps kosher will turn up, looking for munchies. I'll let them open the packaging and serve out the munchies, because they'll know what they're doing.

As for allergies, I'm all sympathy, but again, I know I don't know what I'm doing. I also know that when you're a thousand miles from home, have no kitchen, and are trying to put together a passable party for several hundred guests in the limited time you have available between your other convention obligations, you're not going to be able to cover all the possibilities.

I really, really, really hate to have to look at it from a legal standpoint, but if we just serve refreshments, we're in the clear. If we say we have refreshments that won't set off some specific allergy, and we're wrong, we're liable.

I'll keep my eye open for some of those little sealed packets you suggest. If I find them, we'll have a few at the party. I just won't tell you they're safe for allergy sufferers.

Three words, Robert: cut and paste. You can take it up with Herself.

Example example, long before the off-duty NYC police officer with no sense of what constitutes an attachment point got anywhere near the sprinkler heads, he'd have been told, "Not here."

Karen C., I love the idea of origami serving dishes. Can you give me a link to the folding pattern?

Rhandir, thanks for the link on corkage waivers. I've incorporated it.

The pizza rules are for ordering pizza for a large group of people who aren't physically present when you do the ordering. I think I'm remembering them all, but I may have missed one.

1. At least half of the pizzas have to be pepperoni.

2. People who like anchovies, clams, or ham and pineapple on their pizza will also eat other kinds of pizza and be happy; whereas many people will be very unhappy if they have to eat pizza with clams, anchovies, or pineapple and ham. Therefore, don't order those toppings.

3. People who don't like bell peppers really don't like bell peppers, so make sure you don't put them on the only vegetarian or otherwise diet-restricted pie.

4. At least one pizza should be a white pie, a pizza margarita, or a double cheese with no other topping, to accommodate people who are on restricted diets, and punish people who show up late.

5. New York, not Chicago.

How I'd do ten pies:

5 pepperoni and cheese
1 sausage with bell pepper
1 sausage with olives or onions
1 olive, onion, and mushroom
1 white, margarita, or double cheese
1 whatever people are kvetching about wanting

#61 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:45 PM:

Eric Olson @51,

Do you have the true knowledge of Artist Tape, and how it compares to the oneTrue Blue Tape? Of special interest would be how it does when changed topologically: tiny rolls holding a poster in back, rather than flat sheets holding from the edges.

Xopher@39
Both Coke and Pepsi have a sucralose (Splenda is the trademark) version, although the Coke is with ace-K (another sweetener). Story goes that this happened after Walmart turned its eye of Sauron towards the drink makers, insisting on non-evil (Nutrasweet is the trademark) versions. wiklist of diet drinks.

#62 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:47 PM:

Here are some of my lessons learned from hosting parties, including seven years of an open five-night party at worldcons:

- If trying to serve kosher food, serve either in its original packaging if feasible or keep the bit of the packaging with the certification symbol handy so people who care can make an informed decision. If serving cheese, purchase a fresh new knife or other utensil that will not ever have touched anything inappropriate. Label it. I serve dairy or neutral foods only and keep all the kosher stuff on a separate table and in a separate prep-box so it can be easily tracked.

- Cheetos are evil. Any similar cheese-covered snack which coats the fingers with reddish-orange stuff is likewise evil. You will use many fewer napkins if you avoid Cheetos. Potato chips and other greasy snacks create similar problems.

- Not everyone drinks soda. Little cans of fruit juice, V-8, or similar always go quickly. And my observation is that over the last ten years the proportion of people wanting diet soda has increased dramatically.

- Climate matters. Beverage consumption in Orlando or other hot climates will be much higher than in cooler ones. I went through almost twice as much soda at Magicon as at the previous worldcon and had to add on an extra shopping expedition solely to replenish.

- A popcorn popper not only generates a lot of inexpensive snack food from kernels that take up very little packing space, it also lures people into the party by scent. One that doesn't use oil avoids the sticky-greasy-fingers problem (see "Cheetos are evil.")

- If you're trying to save money, put the cheap food near seating areas and the expensive food somewhere where people have to make little excursions to get more of it. And serve on napkins rather than plates - the latter can be loaded with much more food.

- Cans of soda are more expensive, but they enable you to serve a wide variety of flavors, reduce the workload (no pourer necessary), and reduce the risks of spillage.

#63 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:49 PM:

1 whatever people are kvetching about wanting

You mean I can get my avocado, pignoli nuts, sliced garlic, and black olives pizza? (No kidding, I used to order that...but at the personal pizza size. It's surprisingly good, and lots of people HATE surprises.)

What's a margarita pizza? I'm almost certain it's not pizza with tequila and lime juice, but I have no idea what it is.

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:52 PM:

KfS: I've looked at the trumpeted Splenda! Sweetened! versions. At least in my area, they ALSO have aspartame. That's why I think there's a contract involved. Splenda isn't a goal as such; the goal is "no sugar, no aspartame."

#65 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:52 PM:

Dang, why didn't you do this just before I ran the hospitality suite for Mythcon??? Eve's comment (#29) was something I found out the hard way -- I stored the beer and wine for nights #2 and #3 in the kitchen, and they were helpfully located, iced, opened, and consumed -- and OK has no liquour sales on Sunday! I had to have my husband bring in everything we had at home... But great parties anyway!

#66 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:52 PM:

margarita pizza:

Tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 12:53 PM:

P J Evans: well, YUM. I'll remember THAT now!

#68 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 01:20 PM:

It's usually spelled "margherita," which may help in finding it.

#69 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 01:23 PM:

Xopher: Especially when it's fresh basil, on a thin, crispy NYC coal-fired-brick-oven pizza, from a pizzeria where the sauce is to die from, the mozzarella's at most a couple of hours old, and the jukebox selections are divided between Frank Sinatra and Italian opera.

I'm hungry now.

#70 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 01:25 PM:

Me too. *goes to lunch*

#71 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 01:34 PM:

Xopher @64,

I'll have a stash of favorite low-carb drinks - drinks with no evil- for people who ask for them. If you drop by the bid party, ask.

Uggggh Splenda plus Aspertame. Be like low-fat cookies with motor oil.

#72 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 01:39 PM:

Teresa, I still whimper every time I remember the pies that Tory and I had at Grimaldi's. This May was the first time I've ever had proper pizza.

#73 ::: Bill T ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 01:43 PM:

This was an amazingly cool discourse. Thanks TNH for putting it up. And the GT party soon to commense will be using some of your suggestions. Duct tape and all.

#74 ::: Elusis ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 02:00 PM:

For me, publish leashing, tying, commanding, etc. of subs, slaves, pets, or other members of one's BDSM-oriented menagerie, unless it is at a fetish party, crosses the line into "Public Lewdness" and "not here." If one's puppy cannot behave in a socially-appropriate way without strict direction, perhaps one's puppy needs more private training?

#75 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 02:01 PM:

Kathryn, I won't be attending WorldCon this year, alas. But you are on my list as a Fine Person now!

#76 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 02:05 PM:

Convention party nothing. I'm taking notes for the next party I throw at my house....

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 02:15 PM:

Elusis, and I think married couples' wearing of wedding rings is lewd. (No I don't, because that would be silly, which is my point.)

The leashing I'll forego, because it's a safety hazard in a crowded room. Tying? Well, pretty damned impractical if one is party-hopping. But if my Boy is wearing his collar (and it's his choice, moment to moment, whether to wear it), he sits on the floor, I call him Boy, and if I want something to drink I'll tell him "Boy, get me a drink."

If he isn't wearing his collar (and he's never worn it in public, so this is moot so far), we'll walk in side-by-side, holding hands; he'll sit next to me on the couch; and if I'm thirsty I'll go get my own, saying "You want a drink, sweetie?"

I won't bind or discipline him in front of other people except at a fetish party (or similar venue). Of course.

I'm a peaceful person. I just won't go to your party if my Boy has chosen to wear the collar, assuming I know what party is yours and that you have this attitude. I'll just think you're a bit silly.

#78 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Sysco is a good source of supply for large parties of stuff (I haven't personally gone to one, but MCFI/Noreascon and NESFA both have used Sysco for party edibles). They also use the 3M sheets, and there are 3M white things that one can tack up stuff with (the hooks that got mentioned, and the stuff that's one the back of the hooks--it comes in packages of white squard tabs on coated paper.) Heavy stock, and particularly plastic-coated heavy stock, decorations don't hold that well with the white tab stuff, though.

When taking down the hooks, and putting them up, Tall People are useful--preponderances of short women trying to put things up, there are problems! Getting things down, the same applies... and multiple pairs of eyeballs are useful, to have a higher degree of likelihood of getting all the hooks off (some of them blend into the wall and can get overlooked when doing cleanup, particularly if people are tired

MCFI/NESFA also found the plastic sheets that can hold up paper via static electricity (at least, they told me about it.) The stuff does work -- if a hotel has surfaces that are damaged by electrostatic potention in the low kV range, they've got far worse problems than the walls -- but it is fairly ugly, and putting it on the wall can be entertaining. I've heard you want the people with short hair doing the work.

That last sentence is news to me...

If decorating--start -early-. If possible, and if it is someting like a big bid party, getting the party running crew OUT of there to go for a dinner break, helps one's sanity... too much time in a party suite setting and up running it, one can lose whatever shards of equanimity and sense one has!

As regards decorations--be aware of height differences. Things that hang down that clear my head by several inches, other people can whack themselves in the face or head with. Hanging decorations are safetest backing walls and over tables.... again, most of them aren't a problem to me but other people tend to be taller than I am!

Decorations that fall off walls are not a plus. Stand-up decorations can be amusing, but beware of them falling over, or being traffic obstacles.

How I'd do ten pies:

5 pepperoni and cheese
1 sausage with bell pepper
1 sausage with olives or onions
1 olive, onion, and mushroom
1 white, margarita, or double cheese
1 whatever people are kvetching about wanting

CHip? That wouldn't work up here, would it? (You've ordered or at least picked up pizzas for Boskone truck loading IIRC...)


#79 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 02:31 PM:

TNH@60 said: 3. People who don't like bell peppers really don't like bell peppers

So very, very true. Is the person here who came up with the food cooties theory? Because bell peppers have taste cooties like whoa.

#80 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 02:35 PM:

As a sometime GT party host (often on the post midnight shift), we've had some success with labelling microwaves (and other equipment) with "this is NOT someone else's microwave". It keeps the GT types out of trouble, and there's usually enough of them around that they will watch the non-GT.

I usually drive to cons, so I have a con box with a couple of sheet plastic cutting boards (useful for serving as well as cutting) and an assortment of serving, opening, and cutting utensils. And tape. And Sharpies or other permanent marker. And paper. (I remember a con once where somebody said "we need a sign", one person started trying to figure out where the nearest printer was, and I dug into the party box and made a sign.)

Stand fans are better than floor fans, although the vortex-style fans that tuck behind furniture and can be aimed up are also quite nice. (The GT party kit has both, iirc.)

#81 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 02:38 PM:

As someone whose idea of perfect pizza is deep-dish with light sauce and as much cheese as is structually feasible, I'm gonna weigh in in support of Pizza Rule #4 whilst simultaneously blowing a rasberry at Rule #5.

Wish I could see y'all at WorldCon. Maybe next time.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 02:43 PM:

#78: Paula, I think he meant actual short hair, so it can't be pulled out. As a way of conveying how frustrating the process is. Not a "boys do it better" comment.

#83 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 03:21 PM:

re: attractive nuisances
Advice on how not to get kicked out of Gen Con. (Mind the pirates.)

-r.

#84 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 03:39 PM:
5. New York, not Chicago.

Is this just a preference, with which I can disagree with every quivering fiber of my being? Or is it a practical recommendation? Because it seems to me that New York pizza causes more trouble: more grease on plates and hands, more likely spillage, just generally a lot messier.

#85 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 03:42 PM:

Sharpies are also good for labelling drinks, at least if the drinks are served in disposable containers such as plastic cups or aluminum cans. You'd think you'd be able to figure out which cup you left in the place no one else would set their drink was yours, but you'd be wrong. The only problem is people carrying the Drink Marker into another room, and this can be solved with a tether of some sort.

At the parties I go to most of the attendees are SCAdians, which leads to lots of plastic cups with little coats of arms on them. It's amusing.

#86 ::: Karen C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 03:49 PM:

@ 60, the folding pattern for origami dishes: Sorry, I haven't managed to stir up a link in the time I was able to spend looking for one. I could pull the book off the shelf with step-by-step instructions, but I am a long way from my books at the moment.

More of my own thoughts: One of my minimalist rules of thumb about giving room parties is that if the hotel will give it to you, let them. Thus, I always send for a trash can and trash bags and extra linens and maybe a banquet table, or an 8-top round if cards or gaming are expected to break out, and either way a couple of stacks of chairs, especially if music is expected. (I have sometimes gotten a few dish racks of coffee cups or champagne flutes). Getting the bellman and maids on your side from the moment you walk in the door of the place is useful, thence the small bills mentioned up top.

Re dip: No. Never at a fannish event. People double dip. It is a horror.

Light strings can be attached to the drapes with the handful of safety pins that you brought, assume the fabric is not too sheer. Pins will hold up paper, too.

Prep *all* the vegies in advance. If they can't stand being in ready-to-eat format for a few hours, don't buy them in the first place.

If you're serving drinks in cups, implement The Glicksohn Solution and put people's names on their cups so they can be reunited with them, a plan also manifest in ideas like wine charms.

Smaller platters and bowls refilled more frequently look nicer than the larger ones that get picked-over. Few things are less appetizing than a large tray offering nothing but three pieces of cauliflower and a bruised cherry tomato.

For the hardware of your party, unless you're bringing it from home, the dollar store is where to shop. Since dollar store stock is always a mystery, be prepared to visit a couple of them.

Bring extension cords if you are plugging in lights or small appliances. Nearly every dollar store has them.

If you are bringing a knife besides your pocket knife to do prep with, serrated is more useful than a straight blade.

If you move the furniture, you may have to do something about the chandelier. S-hooks are occasionally useful here.

If you expect to sleep in a bed where a party has taken place, you might be happiest with a pillow that's been tucked away out of the reach of the party.

Our large parties, as well as Minnstf's large parties (significant overlap, admittedly) are currently going through *more* diet Coke than the regular stuff.

Label the cheeses.

If it's not light enough to read, it's not a fannish party.

#87 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 03:55 PM:

In re #78 and #82, Paula and Xopher's interpretation of this: MCFI/NESFA also found the plastic sheets that can hold up paper via static electricity...electrostatic potention in the low kV range...,and putting it on the wall can be entertaining. I've heard you want the people with short hair doing the work.

Umm, when I hear 'electrostatic potential' and 'short hair,' I don't think gender or frustration - I'm pretty sure that specifying short-haired hangers is about limiting the annoyance that your charming new electrified hairdo will cause to yourself and others.

#88 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 03:58 PM:

As a sometime GT party host (often on the post midnight shift), we've had some success with labelling microwaves (and other equipment) with "this is NOT someone else's microwave".

This is important, mind you, because "Somebody Else's Microwave" is the microwave you do all of those experiments in. Steel wool is still my favorite. This is, of course, why Somebody Else's Microwave often shows up in the GT Suite.

Do you have the true knowledge of Artist Tape, and how it compares to the oneTrue Blue Tape?

Afraid not -- I'm assuming that artist's tape would be optimized to not damaging bare surfaces, but what about prepared surfaces? Without testing, I can't suggest it. It sounds like it should work dandy, but I just don't know, so I'm not suggesting it.

I also don't know the cost -- if it is dramatically more expensive than 2090, it's a suboptimal solution unless it works dramatically better that 2090 -- and even if it does, that might be overkill if you're hanging flyers.

Loops of blue tape work as well as the blue tape does, in my experience.

#89 ::: Rasselas ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 04:01 PM:

The name is spelled "Kierkegaard."

"Kirkegaard" is the modern Danish spelling of the word for "churchyard" -- as in, "Soren Kierkegaard is buried in Assistens Kirkegaard," as depicted here.

I'd be willing to bet he liked chocolate, though.

#90 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 04:05 PM:

Carrie@85,
You mentioned Sharpies - sharpies and wax-coated cups do not mix. The solvent in the ink migrates through wax-based material easily. Bleh! Test them before using them en masse on plastic cups - not all are created equal.

Grease pencils* are a useful alternative, though they are not ideal for warm surfaces - hot cider+warm hands=smudgies. On the other hand, sharpies in the hands of inebriated guests isn't so hot either.

-r.
*aka china markers, wax pencils. Most are the paper-wrapped kind - leads to lots of little bits to pick up. The softer lead kind that come in nice plastic holders are devilishly hard to find. Anyone here have a source?

#91 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 04:16 PM:

Another non-soda party beverage that I have had good luck with is Japanese tea, either green or oolong. Not the sweetened kind for the USA market, but 12 oz cans of unsweetened tea. The problem is, they're kinda pricey. But they're very refreshing.

#92 ::: Naomi Kritzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 04:21 PM:

But if my Boy is wearing his collar (and it's his choice, moment to moment, whether to wear it), he sits on the floor

I've seen D/s pairs (at SF cons) where the sub is not only sitting on the floor, he's kneeling with his head bowed, not looking at anyone else, and not moving. This is really inconvenient in a crowded room. In a really tight crowd, sitting on the floor is just a bad idea. In a smaller crowd, people sitting on the floor need to be watching for the people coming through and shifting out of the way occasionally.

I have no idea if this is how you and your Boy do things when he's wearing his collar.

#93 ::: AzureLunatic ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 04:47 PM:

For smaller events, or events with a specific reasonably-sized guest list, the Corknut Pizza Arbiter (or something similar) might help do part of the work for what to put on the "special toppings" whinge-pie. That tool finds the pizza toppings that the submitted list of (registered) guests has in common. An ideal pizza-division tool would start looking at additional pies with an eye to getting everyone enough pizza and maximizing the available toppings after a certain number of guests were entered, of course...


One of the worst protection-conscious combinations I can think of offhand could be thinly-papered tables and Sharpie markers. If all available flat surfaces are neatly covered in inexpensive sheet paper (that a Sharpie will bleed through in a second) and markers are available for marking drinks, it's not going to take too long before someone gets a bright idea, picks up a marker, and starts illustrating something on the available paper.

#94 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 04:50 PM:

Hmm. I apologize if I've made Super 77 unkosher.

Known in concentric circles as the traifing of the tape.

#95 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 04:52 PM:

margarita pizza:

Tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil

Not anywhere that I've had it. As experienced on this coast it's olive oil, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil. In that order, up from the crust. And no sauce.

#96 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 05:07 PM:

RuTemple @ 18: I will duly bring ye bottled water.
Easy to buy once you get there, too. The Anaheim Convention Center area is full of convenience stores and the like, and with Disneyland right across the street, things do stay open on weekends.

Dori @ 24: have you tried anything from [Bear Flag Brewery in Healdsburg, CA]?
We were just there three weeks ago. I prefer North Coast in Fort Bragg and Mendocino Brewing in Hopland, but that's a pretty stiff level of competition.
And [Hop Kiln Winery] It's less than ten miles away, and we're driving down. If there's anything we can bring down south, put your orders in soonest.
We came back from that three-week-ago trip with four cases of wine, so we're set; we aren't going to Worldcon anyway. Lots of other Sonoma County wines are as good as Hop Kiln's, but they do have that great old building which makes them fun to visit. If I were going to take some wine from Sonoma to Worldcon it would probably be Trentadue's "Old Patch Red"; while it's not exceptional in taste, it's cheap for the quality . It's an example of a traditional "field blend" -- take all the grapes of mixed variety in a given vineyard and mix them together. As with all Trentadue wines, it's a conversation piece: how does a family end up being named "32" anyway? Did they live next door to the 33's?

Anna @ #21: Brita rules ok
I don't think it would help much with Anaheim's water, since the problem is dissolved solids (mainly salt) which can't be filtered out and won't evaporate like chlorine. Anaheim water has 80 parts per million of sodium compared to the 10 ppm in my home town.

#97 ::: Karen C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 05:16 PM:

Margherita pizza, using any of a large number of spellings, hereabouts has an equally large number of possible toppings, including mushrooms, ham, lardons, and several kinds of cheese.

No, I don't get it either, but I assure you that it is true.

#98 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 05:31 PM:

Does Pizza Margherita with ham and mushrooms count as flag desecration?

#99 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 05:45 PM:

I haven't been to any fandom or con parties, but I have been to quite a few mundane parties which are semi-open and hosted in spaces not owned by the hosts. As far as my experience overlaps, this post seems extremely wise, so thank you, Teresa.

One thing that jumps out at me is that you seem to be advocating much stricter standards of inappropriate public displays of sexuality than would be the norm at the kind of parties I go to. Is that your personal preference, or is it more generally true of fandom etiquette? Yes, I do realize that fandom, like every other social group you could think of, is diverse. So I suppose I'm asking for what people's experience and perception is of this issue generally?

#100 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 05:48 PM:

Debcha@#87: THAT makes much, much more sense! I was sure it wasn't sexist, and came up with a plausible explanation...but yours is better. Thanks!

Naomi Kritzer@#92: no, but as I said he's never worn it in public. My preference would be that he be alert and paying attention. And my instinct would be to expect him to take part in the conversation...but then I'm pretty new at this. He's an experienced sub, but I'm a brand new Dom.

Also, though, if conditions were too crowded for sitting on the floor to be a good idea at all, he could stand. Or perhaps I'd let him curl up on my lap. (I'm not sure that's a very Dom sentiment, but I'd sure like it!)

#101 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 05:50 PM:

Karen C. @ #97: what are lardons? They sound disgusting, but my guess is they're probably NOT "units of lard" as they sound!

#102 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 05:53 PM:

Ulrika - I have experienced both forms of Pizza Margherita (sliced tomato vs. tomato sauce) on both coasts, although it would be fair to say that the West Coast tends towards sliced tomatoes, and the East towards sauce. This is probably a function of the relative availablity of quality tomatoes. I think the sauce version is more authentic, but I could be wrong.

In both cases I find the results to be highly dependent on the overall quality of the ingredients. Bad sliced tomatoes or flat/overspiced sauce = mediocre pizza. Given my druthers, I'll take the sauce version, preferably from a NYC coal-fired place as TNH describes above. But I'll take the freshly roasted red peppers as well.

Re: Pizza proportions - aren't there more vegetarians floating around these days necessitating the acquisition of some ungarnished pies, thus providing something that every pizza eater can eat? 20% of the mix as vegetarian-friendly seems too low. For office events, we go for about 30% plain or veggie.

#103 ::: Karen C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 05:54 PM:

@98, re flag desecration:

Geez, I dunno, Mike. The French aren't much for flag-waving even in non-pizza situations.

#104 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 05:57 PM:

Xopher, lardons are a French thing--take very thick-sliced bacon, dice, fry until just golden.

Karen, I'm pretty sure the flag being waved is the Italian one.

#105 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 05:59 PM:

Lardons are little chunks of thick bacon, used to add flavor to dishes (mostly meat/poultry).

Now that I'm thinking about them, I should probably add a few next time I make a meat pie (that is, after things get cool enough to use the oven). Fortunately, I have really good thick nitrate-free bacon at the co-op across the street.

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 06:02 PM:

TexAnne, Mike: thanks. Those are plenty disgusting in my (vegetarian) book. And the relationship to the English word 'lard' is NOT coincidental, as I'd hoped it might be.

#107 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 06:03 PM:

The French aren't much for flag-waving even in non-pizza situations.

The Margherita was created after the Italian flag -- red, white, green. Whatever you'd put on a pizza to get French blue,* I don't think I wanna eat it.

*Not to be confused with Prussian blue, which stands much straighter.

#108 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 06:05 PM:

The Pizza Margherita I was familiar with growing up had fresh crushed tomatoes. Not cooked, other than that which occurred in the oven.

This was from a place in Glen Cove, LI.

Wonderful stuff. I really miss East Coast pizza.

#109 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 06:07 PM:

#107: You might could get the same effect from a not-too-French French bean.

#110 ::: Karen C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 06:13 PM:

@107

Yep, I know the history of the Margherita pizza. I'm in France, where I had pizza for lunch, and read the menu at two tourist restaurants just hours ago trying to decide which likely-not-very-good pizza place to go to. All this is why I am certain that a variety of spellings and ingredients can be involved with this pizza, to international puzzlement.

The good Margherita pizza in the Cities is at Punch Neapolitan Pizza, and I had it in mind when we walked to town for pizza today. Needless to say, I was disappointed, even though the lardonswere all kinds of yummy.

#111 ::: Laurel Krahn ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 06:27 PM:

Bottled water has been extremely popular at recent Minicons (both in the consuite and at room parties). Cider seems to be as popular as beer these days, if not more so.

As more and more fans are diagnosed with diabetes, water and diet pop are becoming increasingly popular; I think diet or sugar-free options go the fastest at Minn-StF parties these days or at the least are even with the "regular" stuff.

People seem to appreciate it if you have diet caffeine free, regular caffeine free, diet with caffeine, and full on sugary caffeinated stuff all represented. It gets more complex as people become more opinionated on the Nutrasweet vs. Splenda issue, but of course you can't cater to everyone.

Carrying different drinks than the consuite, especially if your party is located near the consuite, is often appreciated. Though if the consuite doesn't carry Dr. Pepper and you do, you might suddenly have a lot of new Pepper-loving friends. Ditto with root beer.

#112 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 06:31 PM:

Having never been to a convention, let alone a convention party, I have a question: If the drinks are in the bathtub, doesn't the line of people looking for refreshment interfere with the line of people looking for defreshment? And isn't it kinda stinky sometimes?

I mean, it's food in the bathroom....

#113 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 06:41 PM:

Harry - Never been to an SF Con, but I have been to lots of fraternity conventions. The etiquette was that the beer-in-the-bathtub bathroom was *not* available as anything but a cooler. Guests seeking relief were generally asked to go use the facility in the adjacent or en-suite room.

#114 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 06:56 PM:

Individ-ewe-al:

I think we don't have enough data to really answer that question. For starters, I don't know what the standards are at the parties you go to (and I'm unusual on Making Light in having met you in person at all, I think). As far as I can tell, the guidelines Teresa has stated are "don't block traffic" and "if it reads like sex, you need to get a room." I suspect that your understanding of "reads like sex" may be different from what Teresa has in mind: I've certainly snuggled with various people at open con parties without anyone objecting, because we had the sense not to be in the way of traffic, but standing out of the way or sitting on furniture in reasonable ways (e.g., next to each other on a couch, or in adjoining chairs).

I'd also note that not only are there activities that can read as sex despite all participants being clothed, there are places in which nudity means nothing more than that such things as swimming and saunas are not enhanced by clothes. Such clothing-optional gatherings should be identified as such ahead of time, if not obvious, so those invited can decide whether to attend. Also, while going to the clothing-optional late-night swim at a convention that has one in clothes is reasonable (it was designated as clothing-optional, not as nude, on purpose), the non-con-member who wandered into the sauna in a rather formal full-length dress seemed out of place, didn't know what to make of the naked people already there chatting quietly, and didn't stay long.

#115 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 07:47 PM:

I am convinced that solving the Pizza Problem for N people takes AT LEAST N^N time.

What? Tammy Coxen and I ordered pizzas (Chicago, mind you, not New York) for an entire SMOFcon, and we nailed the order down in about 15 minutes.

It came in on time and budget. I had emergency plans for non-pizza consumers, and they never needed implementation.

#116 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 07:50 PM:

Bill T @73, JennR @80: What's a GT party?

#117 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 08:03 PM:

GT is General Technics, builders of remarkable hardware, when not blowing objects to smithereens (with a tolerance of plus or minus five Smiths and a circular error probability of approximately four Eens).

#118 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 08:12 PM:

Paula, I think he meant actual short hair, so it can't be pulled out. As a way of conveying how frustrating the process is. Not a "boys do it better" comment.

No, I mean people with long fine hair apparently find it being pulled onto the staticy sheets while they're trying to hang them.

I've never seen it, but having seen Naomi Fisher's hair standing up a good six inches from walking on the carpet at Windycon, I can accept that long fine hair + large sheet of nonconductive plastic + wall = Some level of entertainment.

#119 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 08:48 PM:

If party guests offer to help clean up, smile and say, “Why, thank you!” and give them a task. There's no such thing as too many helpers.

Yes. Yes. YES. I spent a year as the designated clean-up organizer at my headmaster's weekly Saturday night open-house, and this is spot on. It's giving them a task right away that's key. People with a task, even a simple or quickly completed one, will get into the swing of the cleanup. People without a task tend to stand around feeling awkward and getting in the way.

The rest of it is spot-on too, of course; that's just the one that jumped out at me.

#120 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 08:52 PM:

I've also found the local brands are a good source for flavors like orange or root beer, as well as purely local flavors like birch beer or "black cherry wizaski" (sp?). This lowers the costs, and makes the selection a lot more interesting.

Unless you are in Maine--in which case, do not, DO NOT, bring Moxie soda instead of national brands of soda. Moxie is not a substitute for "cola" taste. MAJOR taste cooties.

I still have nightmares about Moxie soda. Dear G-d, the horror.

#121 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 09:17 PM:

Never serve anything you wouldn't eat yourself. It shows a lack of respect for your guests.

While I agree with the spirit of this, there are exceptions. For instance, I don't see much point to decaffeinated coffee and hate soy milk, but if I were serving coffee, those would be available, for lo, I know people who won't want caffeine (not many) and can't drink milk (a lot more).

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 09:47 PM:

Tina, I think she meant below the quality you'd eat yourself, not things that aren't to your personal preference. Otherwise no one would serve both diet and non-diet soda, would they?

#123 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 09:47 PM:

I had a five cans from a six-pack of Moxie in my office for several years. Eventually, Jim Frenkel came through town, joyfully exclaimed "Moxie!", and drank all five cans.

#124 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 10:03 PM:

This is my fourth World Con. Con José was the first one where I actually, you know spoke to anyone on my own intitiative. This year I'm going to actually attempt to go to a party.

No, really, I mean it, I am.

#125 ::: Rich ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 10:11 PM:

Kate Nepveu -

What is the food cooties theory?

Secondly, Teresa, I am going to save the Pizza Rule and make numerous leaflets (laminated leaflets, at that) and hand them out at work when ever we do a mass order of pizza on rainy days - inevitably we end up with too much white/double cheese, not enough pepperoni, and a completely untouched pizza with razzmatazz that one person wanted and insisted on.

#126 ::: Soni Pitts ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 10:20 PM:

Re: unattended children - put up a sign at the door stating that unattended children will be allowed to imbibe as much sugar and caffeine as they request before being returned to their exhausted parents at day's end. That's enough to terrify any con-weary parental unit into hawk-like supervision.

#127 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 10:39 PM:

Erik Olsen wrote -
"It came in on time and budget. I had emergency plans for non-pizza consumers, and they never needed implementation."

This is an important note. If you are planning on doing "real food" - as opposed to grazing substances - please, please, *please* at least consider the fact that there are folks in the community that are lactose-intolerant, sensitive-stomached, or otherwise unable to eat pizza of any conventional sort*.

There are lots of foods that are - unfortunate - in their messiness (Buffalo wings, Swedish Meatballs, aforementioned chili, etc. - all right out, unless a small, private party, or floors aren't covered in carpet...), but, well, I've been overjoyed just to find that someone has taken the time to bake some chicken tenders and throw them on a plate for the midnight food drop in the con suite, instead of just ordering more (admittedly much much cheaper per serving) pizzas.

*for me - generally cast iron stomach, but if I eat more than a brief amount of incidental mozzarella cheese at a Thursday night party at a con, I will very much enjoy pre-party Thursday, and possibly afternoon Sunday of the convention - and spend the rest of the con no more than five feet from a bathroom... :-(. My poor Italian ancestors spin like tops every time I order a loaded pizza without cheese - but at least now I can do that - twenty years ago, "can't eat cheese" was not an excuse as far as pizzerias were concerned.

#128 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:02 PM:

John @ 117: a tolerance of plus or minus five Smiths...

Sounds like me having to deal with my in-laws.

Lisa @ 124: It's also my fourth; we'll have to compare notes to see where we should have met previously (e.g., the world as I know it would be very very different if Tom and I had met at LACon in '84).

And I may even try to get you to go to more than one party...

#129 ::: Arthur Dent 79 ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:14 PM:

Much thanks for all the tips everyone. I find con parties fascinating. I've only been to a few in MN, so I've always wondered - do most cons just let parties run anywhere in the hotel, or do they gather them up in one place?

Some thoughts that come to mind:
* If using bellmen, please do tip them as well.
* Replacing standard lightbulbs with colored lightbulbs are a nice simple way to change the look of a room, if one doesn't mind the room getting generally darker in the process.

#130 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:53 PM:

Xopher, some of the women in MCFI have short hair.

#131 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2006, 11:57 PM:

California modifications to pizza rules:

* More of us are vegetarians than you're used to.
* Omnivores will happily eat plain cheese pizzas, though they'll usually eat the decorated pizzas first - including the veggie pizza, leaving the ham&pineapple leftovers for the veggies.
* You can't get a decent white pizza in California, much less a white broccoli&garlic pie, or a tomato pie with hot cherry peppers. You *can* get a Thai BBQ chicken to amuse or appall the Easterners.
* Almost nobody here understands the criticality of oregano :-)
* Margherita pizza here is almost always round slices of tomato (usually with basil, never seen ham/lardons/etc. here.) Alas, it's not correlated with availability of excellent sliced tomatoes, but it works.
* Costco often has adequate pizza - not great, but workable, cheap, and available in Mass Quantities.


#132 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 12:02 AM:

Mike says: GT is General Technics, builders of remarkable hardware, when not blowing objects to smithereens (with a tolerance of plus or minus five Smiths and a circular error probability of approximately four Eens).,

but doesn't really answer the question, which was:
Bill T @73, JennR @80: What's a GT party?

GT is indeed General Technics, but the incarnation under discussion is the one that prefers blowing objects to smithereens, preferably in Someone Else's Back Yard (or microwave, or crucible, or whatever). Anyway, GT often runs a con-long room party at Midwest cons, and a one-or-two-night room party at WorldCons. Many times the GT party is the last one running, despite the con-veteran status of much of GT. (fwiw, we actually do have permission to use the name -- one of our members asked John Brunner if we could use the name, and he said yes.)

#133 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 12:13 AM:

Individ-ewe-a @ #99 -- "[...] you seem to be advocating much stricter standards of inappropriate public displays of sexuality than would be the norm at the kind of parties I go to."

I suppose Teresa is working from the basis of "fan standards" -- which are, of course, variable, but often seem to me to be along the lines of "if a local police officer were to wander in and think of a charge that would almost certainly stick, or two that might stick, this behavior could reasonably be considered somewhat inappropriate".

And we're halfway-thinking of the thing that spawned this thread -- a WorldCon Open Bidding Party. People with an ordinary hotel room, or maybe a 2-room suite, have invited something on the order of six thousand people to drop in. (So have a dozen or so other hosts, many people don't do Open Parties, and there are lots of other things going on as well, but even so....) The hosts are, in part, trying to persuade as many visitors as possible to vote for their site bid, and maybe sell some pre-supporting Memberships. The basic idea is for fans to drop in, visit a little, then move along to the other parties. (If it's a two-room suite and a small clump of guests settle in an out-of-the-way part of the bedroom and converse for hours, that's fine.)

A couple totally lost in themselves (even though doing nothing quite illegal), or apparently unaware that the hosts are not offering a prize for "Best Dramatic Presentation", really should, IMHO, be doing it somewhere other than in a crowded party setting. Generally, I think, in fandom it's mostly a matter of objecting to people physically being in the way of what's going on, while not contributing anything (fandom's Participatory, and guests can be considered to have almost as many obligations as hosts, at parties), or of seriously damaging what the hosts are trying to make the Mood of the Party.

Mind you, I'm an older-generation type who kinda disapproves of a lot of things people do in public nowadays, but I'm also fannish enough to not even think of preventing them from doing such things unless they seem likely to cause significant trouble for me or some group with which I Identify.

#134 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:09 AM:

Xopher: no, it's not childish. Can't you hear me bouncing in my chair?

example/T: the problem was that the whole floor was a party; that's one reason why most such outlets now have little no-hangers stickers.

Eric: my hair ranges from ear-length to Bonnie-Prince-Charlie (at least according to Smerdyakov), and I've never had a problem with the cling sheets. I'm not sure they depend solely on static; they feel like the Little Blue Thingies that used to prevent DecTapes from unspooling (xref the IBM Balls thread), and I doubt those had anything to do with electricity.

The one time I did pizza for work sessions, it didn't work well, but I've watched others' orders; Bertucci's tends to do too many fancies, and Teresa orders more pepperoni than I think would go over here but not a lot. (NESFA does anchovies because a lot of people eat them -- the pie isn't the first to go but is far from the last. This is experience, not necessarily applicable to a random group.) All-cheese isn't necessarily a punishment; B used to do a very good one, improved by ~triple garlic to what we called a Fearless Vampire Killer.

Rich: nice to find someone on the left coast who doesn't like left-coast hops. When I want grapefruit rind in my beer, I'll put it there myself.

Scraps: bad pizza of \any/ species is greasy; good NYC pizza is not greasy (to the furniture -- I won't argue taste) and doesn't produce crumbs. An extension of Teresa's rule would be never to order from a place nobody in the room will vouch for (preferably on their own grave); I did take a recommendation for 3 blocks away from some locals during a worksession and got much better results than at the place 2 doors down.

Arthur Dent: it depends on the hotel architecture. Many places have stacked suites (i.e., the suite is at the end of the corridor, or right opposite the elevator, on every floor); there's not a lot the hotel can do except try to make some floors quieter than others. (They do try to keep some quiet space -- with varying success, as in one of the Harlan-at-Noreascon episodes.) A few (LAcon and Wiscon hotels, e.g.) have a hospitality floor; provided it's big enough, it wins all around, but it requires an architect who thought rather than just running off N copies of a room-floor plan and sequentially numbering them.

Addendum: one sort of chocolate that worked really well during the Boston bid was the imported lump-in-the-shape-of-an-orange. Decent quality, broke into lots of individual pieces, and as a bonus had enough orange volatiles that cracking just one cut through the fug of a party where it was too cold to open the windows. Unfortunately that was six years ago, and I don't remember the brand anymore, or even if they're still imported.

#135 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:25 AM:

CHip wrote:
Addendum: one sort of chocolate that worked really well during the Boston bid was the imported lump-in-the-shape-of-an-orange. Decent quality, broke into lots of individual pieces, and as a bonus had enough orange volatiles that cracking just one cut through the fug of a party where it was too cold to open the windows. Unfortunately that was six years ago, and I don't remember the brand anymore, or even if they're still imported.

Argh! Those are easy to get in Canada, especially seasonally - but now I can't recall the name of them. Damn. I'd generally just call them 'chocolate oranges' - but they've got to have a proper name ...

#137 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:54 AM:

Terry's is a Kraft brand, not an import, but the packaging is suspiciously similar. My recollection is that they used to come from Droste in the Netherlands (along with chocolate apples), but a search of both the English and Dutch websites shows no such product, so maybe they Sold Out.

"But, Pieter . . . the Velveeta people?"
"Quiet, or I'll tell the neighbors who painted your Vermeers."

#138 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:58 AM:

Droste "chocolate apples" have been around for decades, but they're hard to find when its not heading-toward-winter-soltice-buy-everything-holidays season. There are imitators that are less expensive that pop up at the same time of year, that aren't imported from Europe, and have various added flavorings (changes by year, can include lime, and I forget what other flavors).

The meat-on-pizza order percentage is lower here, but I wanted the corroboration on that. Meat-on-pizza eaters generally will eat the pizza without meat on it, but those who don't eat the meat pizzas... leftover sausage and pepperoni pizza can result, and and cheese pizzas all gone.

It's the vanilla ice cream situation--while the number of people who list it as favorite might be low, it's a primary -second- choice.

Australian ballots for pizza ordering?

#139 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 02:06 AM:

That's because it's a chocolate apple, not a chocolate orange...

e.g. see

http://www.ebulkcandy.com/sys-tmpl/drosteofholland/

#140 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 03:07 AM:

Hmmm... Australian pizza ordering - this is vaguely from memory:

For 10 pizzas:
5 supreme (everything on the bench - people can pick off what they don't like)
2 meat-eater (meat, meatballs, ham, pepperoni etc, generally a barbecue sauce) [Variant: 1 meat-eater, 1 hawaiian (ham & pineapple)]
2 chicken
1 vegetarian/specialist

Oh, and a couple of garlic breads.

People who are gluten or lactose intolerant tend to be bringing their own food (although these days I'll tend to ensure there's a packet of flavoured rice crackers on the table for the militants) or they know what they can or can't order from the local fast food places.

Oh, and a bonus - the Chinese take-away order for the same 10 people:

2 large fried rice
1 large steamed rice (because there's bound to be someone who won't have either pork or prawns)
1 Beef in Black Bean Sauce
1 Lemon Chicken
1 Sweet & Sour Pork
1 Satay (probably either lamb or beef, depending on what's available)
1 Garlic Prawns.

#141 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 03:13 AM:

Note that many Britons and those people with sensitive teeth will be very grateful if you do not chill _all_ the soda to freezing point. This goes double for Britons with sensitive teeth. [wince]

And a minor point on allergies - many people who are sensitive/allergic to wasp venom will be really, really grateful if you have at least some stock of cups, even if your general policy is "drink from the can". Wasps love sugary drinks, and object to being drunk by someone who couldn't see them in the can...

#142 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 03:16 AM:

I do not know if this is a problem at your parties, but I'd like to add that if you belong to the circle that is arranging the party, but off-duty, you should be considerate to those who are working. For example, I've worked at two Worldcon parties, and at one some of my fellow Norwegians decided to store all their bags under the bar, and then come periodically to fetch something from said bags, usually just when we who were tending the bar were the most busy pouring shots of aquavit or handing over beers or cokes.

Also at the Norwegian party at the Glasgow worldcon last year, some of my friends in fandom apparently did not understand why bringing somebody up to me and saying something on the lines of 'hi, this is PC, the guy with the sweat pearls on his forehead with all the six-packs of Borg beer, I'll leave now, but he'll be happy to help you with [something non-party related]' frankly was a bit exasperating.

Then I actually understood the moral of one of Niven's stories about tending bar (can't recall the title). In it, one guy tells another about what to do if a guest you'd never seen before comes in and order a complex (and time-consuming to make) coctail during a very busy happy hour. You make it, but you make it badly, leaving out a vital ingredient. The other guy asks why you'd do that, and he explains that that was the kind of inconsiderate guest you'd not like to have as a regular in your bar, anyway.

I probably wouldn't do something like that, but I do know what the impulse feels like.

P.C.

#143 ::: kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 05:29 AM:

I was asking my cohost about the lanai structure of the party floor, hearing how it makes for a wonderful flow of people.

[How many people expected at this Worldcon? Eyeballing a regression analysis on place, roman numerals, timing, people at con t-1... seems like 7042 / 8042. But at least until after my party, I probably don't want to know the real answer.]

So, wanting a lanai diagram, we went poking the net to stir up a guide to the party floor layout: no luck. And then we remembered this is the 21st century.

Map of the lanai party floor

#144 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 06:33 AM:

"Terry's is a Kraft brand, not an import, but the packaging is suspiciously similar."

Terry's was an old British brand before it was Krafted, (an article on their orginal factory closing) so their chocolate oranges may have been imported as exotic commodities before that.
I think the Terrys were one of the Quaker chocolate families, like the Cadburys.

#145 ::: Alex R ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 07:02 AM:

I've enjoyed reading this, as I haven't been to a con party in quite some time. Given that at most of the parties I've been to recently, half the attendees have been under six years old, my first thought on reading the "pizza rules" is that there is far too small a proportion of plain, unadorned, cheese and tomato sauce pizzas. If you expect (and welcome) many kids at your party, especially young ones, be prepared for tears if there aren't enough pizzas completely free of contaminants. (My son *will* eat pizza margherita if I carefully remove anything dark enough to resemble a basil leaf... At least he's now willing to eat the cheese.)

#146 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 07:29 AM:

Re: Origami serving dishes

Posting this a little late, but anyway these may yet prove useful:

This is one of my favorite patterns for origami boxes. Quite useful for holding any number of small, light objects. I make them when I want to share a large batch of popcorn. (As demonstrated here, using a slightly different size of paper gives you a handy box cover.)

This is another simple pattern, with a cute star-type decoration.

There are more choices here, but I haven't tried those.

There's a particular pattern I like to use that looks like a shallow dish or pot, but I can't seem to find it online. Oh well.

#147 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 07:47 AM:

Rich @ 125: Ah, I've found where I first saw "food cooties", a Usenet post by Eloise Beltz-Decker.

#148 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 08:53 AM:

Tina, I think she meant below the quality you'd eat yourself, not things that aren't to your personal preference. Otherwise no one would serve both diet and non-diet soda, would they?

I wouldn't serve soda at all. Or coffee or tea of any kind. Or alcohol. Water, fruit juice, milk. I suspect it would not be a very well-attended party.

#149 ::: Vera Nazarian ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 09:28 AM:

Fantastic advice here, all of it. :-) A couple of additions I would recommend, from my own long-time experience running various large con parties is:

1) Have plenty of single serving bottled water, both sparkling and flat. Many people have drinking restrictions (aclohol, sugary drinks, etc.) and water is the one default everyone can agree on.

2) You will need to plan ahead as to where to procure your groceries. They come in two types - perishables and not. If there are any locals (and yes, you will need drivers and address of that Costco or other market), the locals might save you money and time by driving up non-perishable stuff like chips and bottled drinks. These same drivers may be counted on to do a grocery store run and pick up that fresh veggie and cheese platter, etc.

3) If your party has a theme, you will need to have decorator minions, balloon blowers, etc, in the room at least an hour to two hours ahead,

4) Having plenty of flat surfaces is important. And not just for setting out snacks, but for those handout and promo and other themed materials you may be giving away, etc. Stacks of books might need holders or shelves.

5) Cater fancy dishes, if possible. Such as themed cake with a magazine cover imprinted on it, etc. If not possible, skip them.

6) Supermarket (Costco and such) sushi platters are a fabulous hit and go fast.

7) Save all your receipts!

There is probably something else but can't remember it right now, this is way comprehensive as it is.

Hey, see many of you in a day or so in Anaheim! :-)

#150 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 10:01 AM:

#21: There are few things more morally satisfying that running up and down offering little bottles of water to the thirsty.

The last convention I went to (not an SF one) was held in the south, in the summer. A pair of kids stood at the door of the registration room, handing out small bottles of cold water and pieces of chocolate. I'm sure that the increase in con expenses was more than made up for by the decrease in frazzled tempers.

(Boy, do I ever love these numbered comments!)

#151 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 10:11 AM:

Teresa:
comment #69

where the sauce is to die from

I think you mean "to die for"

I wouldn't want to die from something I eat

#152 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 10:28 AM:

Susan@148:
"I wouldn't serve soda at all. Or coffee or tea of any kind. Or alcohol. Water, fruit juice, milk. I suspect it would not be a very well-attended party."

For the last several years, Bubonicon in Albuquerque (which Hilde and I had to miss this year, drat) has had a High Tea party. It is very well attended, and gives people an opportunity to Dress Up for the occasion.

Hilde and I actually won a prize for Most Elegant at last year's High Tea. This may astound Teresa and Patrick, who mostly remember me from their Phoenix days; I don't think I ever quite descended to "Slob" back then, but I almost never went higher than "Common Casual" (jeans & t-shirt, sneakers or sandals).

#153 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 10:38 AM:

For the last several years, Bubonicon in Albuquerque (which Hilde and I had to miss this year, drat) has had a High Tea party. It is very well attended, and gives people an opportunity to Dress Up for the occasion.

I went to one of these Friday at Newport, but only stayed briefly. I was pleased that they had strawberry lemonade - something I actually drink. I wore a 1910's day dress, but was so tired and emotionally worn out that I didn't actually bother to put on the proper underpinnings, so it looked a little odd. By Saturday I had recovered some energy so I went all out that day just for strolling and picnicking - 1890's blouse, flowing skirt, yards of petticoats, well-laced corset, and a killer rat in my hair for the Gibson look. I like that rat enough that I may bring it to worldcon and wear it to the Hugos or something.

High tea at a convention sounds interesting, but since I actually dislike tea and dress up regularly (six full-dress events in the last week alone, and I was slacking off), it wouldn't be a particular highlight for me at a convention. I'll probably get my Regency dress to worldcon but not much more. I'm too worn out and have an entire load of Victorian frillies still to wash tonight.

When I hold a party, I serve a wide variety of beverages which interest me not at all, and I keep soda/coffee/tea in the house for visitors. The latter two are never up to people's standards today, but there are limits as to how much stuff I don't actually drink I am willing to store on spec.

#154 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 11:14 AM:

#152: Bruce Arthurs -- Please, High Tea is not what most Americans think it is:

"High Tea" translates as "supper" in Great Britain. It's what you have when you get home from work. It is not intended to be a social event. Usually happens after 5:00 PM.

The fancy event is known as 'Afternoon Tea' -- this is where you get gussied up in your best clothes and manners. The menu will include dainty little sandwiches, and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

"Stands the village clock at half past three,
And is there honey still for tea?"


#155 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 11:26 AM:

Lori # 145: My memory of 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester' is that those lines are

Stands the church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?

#156 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 12:37 PM:

Larry Brennan @ #113:

Phew!

#157 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 12:55 PM:

#131, Bill Stewart: * Omnivores will happily eat plain cheese pizzas, though they'll usually eat the decorated pizzas first - including the veggie pizza, leaving the ham&pineapple leftovers for the veggies.

That's true not only in California, and not only in fannish settings. It causes tension whenever a departmental party is thrown here, when the vegeterian Indian, Jewish and Muslim students late in line have to bite their lips while the others who could eat the pepperoni pizza go through the vegeterian pies instead.

I haven't been able to find a polite way of preventing that by reminders; the only solution I can think of is actually to buy more vegeterians pizzas than pepperoni pizzas. Which is diametrically opposite to the pizza rules as stated several times here. So it's confusing.

Quite unrelatedly, I have found out that I don't exactly mind the taste of Moxie. I'm not crazy for it, but I like it fine. I am the only one among people I have met face to face.

#158 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:06 PM:

Zeynep: separate lines. Anyone who wants both meat pizza and veggie pizza would have to wait in both, separately.

If everyone waits in the veggie line right away, you have your answer: don't order ANY meat pizza next time.

#159 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:15 PM:

Patrick wrote:

I had a five cans from a six-pack of Moxie in my office for several years. Eventually, Jim Frenkel came through town, joyfully exclaimed "Moxie!", and drank all five cans.

First off, what happened to the first, missing can? Was that when you tried the noxious Moxie?

And, second: Jim Frenkel drank them ALL AT ONCE? Good LORD!

I have to ask: how often does Jolt Cola show up at these parties? I have not yet been to a Worldcon, although I am simply dying to.

#160 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:16 PM:

Zeynep, the alt.polycon solution to that problem is a loudly-announced rule that vegetarians and people with food allergies go through the buffet line first.

#161 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:24 PM:

Cola is not a substitute for Moxie. Moxie (which isn't just in Maine, it's in New Hampshire too, in six packs and in one-and-two liter bottles) is Moxie. Only those who have moxie will drink Moxie.

I'm out of Moxie now -- I'll pick some up at the store when I go out later.

(BTW -- I was the source of the six-pack in Patrick's office. The one missing can was from when Patrick, Teresa, and the other adventurous sorts at Tor tried a bit, to see what it was. Alas, they lacked moxie.)

(Moxie is great. The true eldrich horror is Diet Moxie. Fortunately it's easily recognized by the color of the label.)

#162 ::: Arthur T. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:30 PM:

Subordinate to other criteria, when purchasing beverage cans, try to choose ones such that people can tell at a glance the difference between diet/sugar and beer/non-alco beer/root beer. People want to grab and go and not take up space while others are trying to do the same. (Some vendors make it amazingly difficult to recognize what you DON'T want.)

N.B.
I'm not sure if this will show up. I couldn't really figure out this box's instructions:
"Address, comma, email, comma, yours:"

#163 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:42 PM:

Pizza:

Separate lines works, offering the restricted-diet people first crack at the food only works if everyone is there at the same time. Holding a few plain cheese pizzas off to one side also works, and is usually how I approach the problem. I'm pretty sensitive to that, being a vegetarian that's allergic to pineapple and more than once having the only thing left be ham and pineapple pizza. Why does anyone even order that? It's always left over.

My personal group-pizza breakdown would run about 50% plain cheese (maybe some of that double cheese, sauceless, or margherita), one pie loaded up with veggies, and the remainder roughly split between pepperoni/meat explosion/specialty of the pizza place. As someone mentioned upthread, no one that eats pizza will turn up their nose at cheese, but there are plenty of folks that avoid various toppings.

#164 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:54 PM:

Jim Macdonald wrote:

The true eldrich horror is Diet Moxie

Actually, have you tried the Moxie sport drinks? I swear it should be called Cthulhu-swill.

#165 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 01:58 PM:

It occurs to me to ask: is there any risk of liability if someone gets sozzled drunk, leaves the party, and drives back home while under the influence by way of the wrong side of the street?

I did, once or twice, ask a minion to escort a clearly drunk guest back to their room because I frankly didn't trust said guest not to wind up in the pool or in the stairwell, upside down.

#166 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 02:00 PM:

BTW, Sarcasm Girl asks me to convey that she loves this set of instructions. Not that she's within lightyears of throwing a convention party, of course.

#167 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 02:04 PM:

wrt origami dishes and #146, lids for the first box pattern can also be constructed by tweaking the first step so that the corners aren't brought all the way to the center, leaving a small square gap around it; the remaining steps use the gap's sides/corners for reference instead of the true center.

This pattern is more of a serving dish than an eating-out-of dish, but produces a very nice effect from relatively little effort. There's another easy dish pattern that's three steps past the classic windmill/pinwheel base, but I can't find diagrams of it online so far.

(Or if you really have time to kill, you could probably serve dip or something out of the middle of a Kawasaki rose.)

#168 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 02:10 PM:

Madeleine:

There is, indeed, risk and legal liability if someone you have served alcohol to has an accident or kills or injures someone. The level of liability depends on jurisdiction.

I remember one party where I had to roust a large friend out of bed to sit on a somewhat smaller (but still larger than me) friend who was intent on driving to his hotel several sheets to the wind. And we'd stopped serving this person some time earlier, though not, apparently, early enough (and we weren't the only game in town, either). Not fun.

#169 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Arthur T.:

It's a variation on the construction, usually used in catalogs or parts lists, e.g:

Pad, Gauze, Sterile, 4x4, case/25

. . . which is useful in cataloguing because it puts the broadest term ("Pad"), which is the primary sort criterion, before the various descriptors that refine exactly what kind of pad it is. The usage isn't really meant to be spoken, but it often is, usually with parodic intent.

So the unraveled construction would be

Your e-mail address:

And it posted just fine.

#170 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 02:20 PM:

I want to add a slightly whiny note about vegetarian planning: some of us who eat vegetarian are either allergic to olives and/or mushrooms, or just don't like them. But sometimes it is really damn hard or just plain impossible at an otherwise wonderfully stocked party to find somethng that's vegetarian and not carrying olives and mushrooms. It was, for instance, disappointing to look at Teresa's pizza list and realize that only one would be safe for me and I couldn't count on it lasting.

#171 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 02:23 PM:

Madeleine (and Melissa):

Those lightyears are gonna time-dilate on you, you know.

(I watch this process from an external point of reference, like the Sozzled Poet of the Spaceways who comes back to James White Station and finds the bartender's grandkids pouring the Zero-G Screwdrivers.*)

And that's enough pseudo-pnostalgia for at least the next three minutes.

*Vodka and Tang.

#172 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 02:24 PM:

Vicki, Don, thanks. I can see that a prohibition on sexual and couply behaviour might be as much about not getting in the way as not offending people. Hadn't thought of that.

I suppose my assumption is that if you have a bunch of people together with mixed levels of connectedness, and lowered inhibitions, likely outcomes include people discovering and acting on mutual sexual attraction, conversations involving far too much detail about people's sex lives (though perhaps "foul language" refers to swearing at eachother rather than using vulgar names for sex acts in a descriptive fashion?), people getting totally absorbed in eachother and ignoring the rest of the gathering, and so on. I can imagine how forbidding these would change the dynamic and perhaps positively. I'm interested to know how widespread that prohibition is, if it exists at all, and I'm not just misinterpreting Teresa's rules.

Definitely a dress code is not interchangeable with a code for standards of sexual behaviour. Especially not at a party because many people's idea of dressing up is wearing as little as possible. (As an aside, unless I know the people I certainly can't tell whether a fetish outfit and accessories are a fashion statement or an expression of sexuality!)

Also, that's a very interesting point about the guests having obligations as well as the hosts. Clearly it's true to some extent but it wouldn't surprise me if that aspect of etiquette went further in fandom than outside it. It would certainly make a reasonable rationale for stricter standards about being flagrantly couply to the exclusion of the general gathering.

#173 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 02:28 PM:

Terry's Oranges and Apples (milk or semi-sweet chocolate, no flavoring) are available at Trader Joe's. The nearest on to Anaheim is in Orange, CA. at the Orange Mall.

http://www.traderjoes.com/locations/map/46.asp

Stay away from the raspberry flavored ones; much like hairspray on chocolate.

#174 ::: Scott W ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 02:33 PM:

TChem:

When I'm in a pizza topping deliberation and where there are a number of pies being ordered, I'll often lobby for a pizza containing pineapple. If my lobbying is barely successful, I make sure to only eat the pineapple-containing pizza. It's only fair.

For the record, sausage and pineapple is far superior as a meat/pineapple combination than ham and pineapple.

#175 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 03:01 PM:

Dori Smith has Posted a much more readable and easier to use version of the World Con program than the one on the offical site.

#176 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 03:04 PM:

#173 Terry's Oranges and Apples (milk or semi-sweet chocolate, no flavoring) are available at Trader Joe's.

Or at World Market (formerly known as Cost Plus), if you want some and there's not a Trader Joe's nearby. (Although all I can recall are the oranges.)

#177 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 03:07 PM:

TChem in #163 writes: "the only thing left be ham and pineapple pizza. Why does anyone even order that? It's always left over."

I'm sure there are pizza-eaters in Hawai'i that order/eat that stuff, but I live here, and I've never ever met anyone who did. I don't know whether it's considered too hokey or what, but it belongs in the "Oh, c'mon" category.

#178 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 03:11 PM:

Individ-ewe-al: "One thing that jumps out at me is that you seem to be advocating much stricter standards of inappropriate public displays of sexuality than would be the norm at the kind of parties I go to. Is that your personal preference, or is it more generally true of fandom etiquette?"

Don and Vicki called this one correctly, but I'm going to explain anyway, because I have a theory about this.

A large worldcon party will include people from a great many partially overlapping social circles. Guests who know each other from one context may not be familiar with each other's lifestyles in other contexts.

My rule is that at a general gathering, guests shouldn't engage in behavior which can't be correctly interpreted from external states. If a cry sounds like someone in pain, those hearing it will be as disturbed as if it were a real cry of pain. Roleplaying behavior that looks like serious bullying will likewise be upsetting.

Roleplaying behavior in general is a bad idea, unless it's being done as a general party game. This isn't a sex thing. It's a "confusing and excluding the other guests, and commandeering someone else's party for your own purposes" thing.

Leashes in crowds are a bad idea. Sitting on the floor in pass-through areas is a bad idea. Obtrusive bondage gear is not the equivalent of a wedding band. (And who defines "obtrusive"? I do. The style of moderation carries over.)

Just for the record, over the years I've seen very few people turn up at Tor parties in semi-nude states. I doubt we'd disapprove of them to any great extent, but they might find themselves feeling uncomfortable at a party where everyone else is clothed.

#179 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 03:45 PM:

One more thing about the sex thing:

Sometimes there are children present. Not just the 16-18 yos who are often present at cons but actual children.

#180 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 03:48 PM:
Moxie (which isn't just in Maine, it's in New Hampshire too, in six packs and in one-and-two liter bottles) is Moxie.

I'm fairly sure I've seen it in Massachusetts and Vermont (I must have seen it in at least one of them, since I know I've seen it more recently than the last time I bought groceries in New Hampshire).

#181 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 03:49 PM:

Well, I wouldn't let him sit on the floor in a passthrough area. I wouldn't want to sit in a passthrough area in the first place.

Is a leather collar "obtrusive bondage gear"? I'm talking about a simple one, with perhaps a ring attached, not some hideous spiky monstrosity. I mean to you, since we're talking about your standards at your party, and frankly I think you're an exceedingly reasonable human being, so your opinion carries a fair amount of weight.

#182 ::: Ailsa Ek ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 04:37 PM:

Moxie is definitely in Massachusetts. Seems like all of the men in my family would curl up and waste away without it. (Although now that Adam has been disgnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the eldritch horror that is Diet Moxie is the only one we buy, unfortunately.)

I make sure & always have Moxie and Cel-Ray at my parties, just because. Sometimes they are the only real sodas there (the rest is flavored seltzer).

#183 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 04:52 PM:

Here is a handy, albeit badly punctuated and formatted, list of places in the US that sell Moxie.

#184 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 04:56 PM:

Soni Pitts :#126
Re: unattended children - put up a sign at the door stating that unattended children will be allowed to imbibe as much sugar and caffeine as they request before being returned to their exhausted parents at day's end. That's enough to terrify any con-weary parental unit into hawk-like supervision.

My favourite bookstore has a sign in their children's section saying "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy."

I've never seen an unattended child there.

Bruce Baugh: #170
I want to add a slightly whiny note about vegetarian planning: some of us who eat vegetarian are either allergic to olives and/or mushrooms, or just don't like them... It was, for instance, disappointing to look at Teresa's pizza list and realize that only one would be safe for me and I couldn't count on it lasting.

Actually, I had a similar concern, since my husband can end up home sick for two days from eating a small piece of olive, and sometimes it's hard to tell under the cheese. (Although we're not vegeterian, I am inclined to eat "Anything but pepperoni!" before pepperoni.)

OTOH, she says it's only failed once, by which I presume she means the pizzas are all eaten proportionally by the end of the night.

Although I have a confession: I and my sibling both feel a *good* ham & pineapple pizza (Decent quality ham and pineapple that can be recognized as having been grown on a tree, not born in a can) is a yummy thing.

#185 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 04:59 PM:

Gosh. I can't make it to the Worldcon, but this thread has filled me with happy thoughts of parties as they ought to be (and sometimes even are). Thanks to all! Have fun, those who make it to LA....

I never understood the mysterious conjunction of Moxie and Pepsi when I first read Bored of the Rings all those years ago.

#186 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 05:11 PM:

Xopher: A simple tasteful collar doesn't bother me, especially if he's also wearing a shirt.

Bruce, we don't normally have pizza at Tor parties. It's just a subject that came up in the course of this discussion. I expect you'd be able to put together a tolerable assortment of munchies from our usual spread.

#187 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Lenora, I hate to tell you, but pineapple doesn't grow on trees. It does, however, make a decorative plant that you don't want to run into, but not as much so as a cactus.
--currently growing a real, live, California pineapple, but not in time for Worldcon.

#188 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 05:45 PM:

Linkmeister (comment n° 177): Pineapple and ham is a popular pizza topping 'round these here benighted parts (see also previous list of horrors).

#189 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Teresa 186: Well, there are parties where he might not wear one...but a Tor party? No. That's a shirt party. A party where I don't know the people giving it? Shirt.

In fact at WorldCon I can't see him going around without a shirt except if he also had leopard body makeup or something. That might be cute. But for serious party hopping, shirts and shoes (yes, and pants, whaddayatakemefer?) are definitely de rigeur—not to mention safety considerations.

I'm a vegetarian, and IIRC I've eaten perfectly well at Tor parties. Bruce can breathe easy. If he's a strict vegan that might be another story.

#190 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 07:22 PM:

Individ-ewe-el @ 172:

Also, that's a very interesting point about the guests having obligations as well as the hosts. Clearly it's true to some extent but it wouldn't surprise me if that aspect of etiquette went further in fandom than outside it. It would certainly make a reasonable rationale for stricter standards about being flagrantly couply to the exclusion of the general gathering.

I'm only marginally fannish, but erm?

Of course guests have an obligation to the hosts of any party. As a guest, you have received the honour of an invitation, in accepting the invitation (even an open invitation, nay, especially an open invitation) you are agreeing to participate in a social gathering, to act in a way that makes you a pleasant guest.

At the very least this means you don't make life difficult for your fellow guests or for the hosts (they've accepted some difficulty by holding a party, granted, and you're supposed to ask for drinks or where the toilet is, or make other guest-like requests), and to be a good social creature and community member. At a minimum:

  • You don't hog the comestibles or station yourself by the refreshment table, eating from it and blocking other guests' access.

  • You don't really "make yourself at home": you keep your clothes on (unless it's the kind of party where you don't), you keep your shoes on or take them off as requested, you perform your personal grooming before or after the party, sorta thing.

  • You exercise socially-conscious conversational skills: you avoid hijacking or dominating conversations, making personal attacks at other guests, and inappropriate or unwelcome flirting. Starting an operatic sing-along might be inadvisable, too, unless it's that type of party.

  • You refrain from damaging the party venue.

  • If it's crowded, you avoid sprawling on furniture; you share. (If a physical condition necessitates that you use the entire length of a chesterfield or two chairs, you do so, of course.)

  • You exercise graciousness and good manners. It's okay to ask of the hosts have any non-carbonated, non-alcoholic beverages, but, really, you should refrain from complaining or whining if they don't. (I chose that example, because I don't like pop and I'm a teetotaller. I'm also a vegetarian.)
  • If you take the responsibilites of guesthood very seriously, you are also accepting an obligation to be the very best conversationalist you can be, to understand, accept, and live by the mores of the party (or to exit gracefully if you can't), and to be a credit to your hosts' good taste in inviting you.

    If you can help to clean up, either after the party, or while you're there (by, for example, picking up empty cups that have obviously been abandoned—the ones with candy wrappers, cocktail napkins, or soggy food in them (yicch!) are safe bets)that's nice too.

    When a guest ignores his or her obligations to the hosts and other guests, the results can lower the tone of the party for all involved. This sux.

    #191 ::: Rasselas ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 07:28 PM:

    As Nero Wolfe tells us, a guest is a jewel, resting upon the cushion of hospitality.

    #192 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 07:37 PM:

    "Archie, the cushion is stained beyond repair. Eighty-six* these persons, with a .38 if necessary. And have Fritz wrap up any hors d'oeuvres not bled upon."


    *This has a different original meaning, but I'm already pushing the redline on weird tonight.

    #193 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 07:54 PM:

    Mike:
    ...but I'm already pushing the redline on weird tonight.
    What makes this night different from all other nights?

    #194 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 08:31 PM:

    HoHo: Okay, a deigeh hab' ich.

    Most people know the phrase "eighty-sixed" as meaning "to get tossed out of a bar." (And yes, Don Adams knew this very well when they were making Get Smart.)

    The original meaning is a bit different. When a bar patron had outstayed his welcome (for whatever reason), but was still sensible enough to leave on his own, the barkeep would pour him a shot of 86-proof whiskey.

    These whiskeys are not quality products.

    The recipient would generally stare, swallow hard, and decide that he had Had Enough. (Or at least recognize that the guy behind the bar was no longer his best friend.)

    Because of the rep of the 86es, the Twentieth Century Limited had a rule that no whiskey of under 100 proof would be served aboard. However, Jack Daniel's, which is unquestionably a quality product, comes out at 90 proof, and was therefore excluded. Various of the Century's customers found various ways around this oversight; the actor Monty Woolley is said to have had a large, scholarly-looking book with a hollow interior.

    #195 ::: Rasselas ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 08:35 PM:

    "Sorry about that, Chief."

    #196 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 09:28 PM:

    I think jennie's got it. If you're making out in the corner and nobody notices or minds, I really don't care. If you're making out in the middle of the con suite and it's so over-the-top it stops everyone else's conversations and a crowd gathers to watch and it blocks traffic so people can't get to the drinks, that's what I would call hijacking the party. This is generally not a good idea, especially if someday you might want people to not remember that you did it, or who you did it with.

    #197 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 09:28 PM:

    Debra: "black cherry wizaski" (sp?) I think you mean "wishniak."

    Just for the record: I've tried Moxie, and while I might very well try it again, I wouldn't say it's half as good as Dr Pepper, or even Mr Pibb.

    I also love ham & pineapple pizza.

    #198 ::: Jack Womack ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 09:40 PM:

    No argument with Moxie here, and a fine cocktail can actually be made with it:

    1 12 oz. glass, half full with ice, crushed or cubes
    2 oz. golden rum, 120 proof preferred
    1/2 oz. pomegranate juice
    1 oz. lime
    Fill to top with Moxie; stir
    Rub lime zest around rim of glass

    Ecco: the Roxy.

    The gentian flavor most find objectionable in Moxie disappears, somehow, and even non-fans tend to be surprised. Or, at least not horrified.

    Diet Moxie is indeed enjoyed only by those possessing the Innsmouth Look.

    For real horror, try what I discovered to be the preferred drink of Buenos Aires: Coca-Cola and Fernet Branca. Have always been tempted to try Moxie and Fernet (just brought back a case of the former from Maine), but so far -- I hesitate.

    #199 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 09:43 PM:

    Per Chr J.@142: The story's called 'The Fourth Profession', and the cocktail the protagonist mentions is an Old Fashioned (if someone asks for it during rush hour, he leaves out the sugar).

    #200 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 10:32 PM:

    Individ-ewe-al, it's significant that these are recommendations for throwing a *large* room party at a con. Some of the social expectations are based on the very crowded conditions, and the need to clear people out of the way if they aren't participating in the party. The initial post mentioned waking sleepers and escorting them to their rooms. Nobody disapproves of sleeping, and a small mellow party can work around a few sleepers curled up here and there. But sleeping is a solitary activity, disconnected from the party, so the rest of the party would have to happen *around* it, rather than engaging with it. I'm sentimental enough to like watching a few people sleep, but they have to be particular people. Sleeping is not a spectator sport.

    In any comfortable social setting, there are levels of intimacy that are ok to show within the group, and other levels that make people uncomfortable. Part of welcoming people to the group is letting them know where the boundaries are. Modeling appropriate behavior, and Teresa's suggestion of a hand on a shoulder and a quiet "Not here," can work very well. (Or possibly "not now," in a group where standards change dramatically after the children go to bed.) I've seen similar ways of dealing with the social boundaries at bdsm parties.

    #201 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 10:41 PM:

    John Houghton asked:

    What makes this night different from all other nights?

    "Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either vegeterian pizza or pepperoni pizza, but on this night we eat only vegeterian pizza?"

    "Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of fruit, but on this night we eat only exotic fruits?"

    "Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip our chips even once, but on this night we dip them twice?"

    "Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a standing position?"

    #202 ::: Technomad ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 10:46 PM:

    I'd never start making out in a convention room party.

    What if they all _critiqued_ me?

    #203 ::: Arthur Dent 79 ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 10:47 PM:

    CHip
    Arthur Dent: it depends on the hotel architecture. Many places have stacked suites (i.e., the suite is at the end of the corridor, or right opposite the elevator, on every floor); there's not a lot the hotel can do except try to make some floors quieter than others. (They do try to keep some quiet space -- with varying success, as in one of the Harlan-at-Noreascon episodes.) A few (LAcon and Wiscon hotels, e.g.) have a hospitality floor; provided it's big enough, it wins all around, but it requires an architect who thought rather than just running off N copies of a room-floor plan and sequentially numbering them.

    Thanks. I had always assumed that cons solicited parties in advance, grouped them physically, and listed them in the program. I gather that that's rarely the case.

    #204 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2006, 10:54 PM:

    Teresa, I have much confidence in your judgment. I just wanted to note the olives-and-mushrooms thing, and the pizza list was a handy hook for it.

    #205 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 12:02 AM:

    Jack: Coca-Cola and Fernet Branca

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrggghhh....

    #206 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 02:12 AM:

    cd @ 188,

    Well, I'm not denying it might be good. I'm just saying that in Hawai'i it doesn't appear at the top of the list of toppings the locals eat. I'm afraid pineapple on pizza screams "Tourist!" to the long-time denizens. Spam would denote "local," but I've never seen that offered as a pizza topping.

    And that other list of toppings from 2005? Yikes!

    #207 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 03:10 AM:

    Arthur Dent @ #203 "I had always assumed that cons solicited parties in advance, grouped them physically, and listed them in the program. I gather that that's rarely the case."

    I dare not say never -- someone here might come up with one con, somewhere, that did that -- but overwhelmingly the most you'll find listed even in the (late-printed) Pocket Program will be the hours & location of the convention-sponsored and operated ConSuite, which some fans consider the Party of Last Resort. (And whether it's bare-bones or lavish often depends on the con's budget and attendance, especially walk-in memberships sold.) Final details (including the room-size and location) for open parties are usually, I think, not worked-out until the last minute.

    There's usually a Party Board at some central location where these are listed by night, and most of them get listed in the Con Newsletter. With luck and good co-operation between the Hotel and the ConCom, people planning parties will be given rooms grouped together, so as to avoid disturbing hotel guests who want to sleep, or having the hotel close them down completely at midnight. (Of course, there are Horror Stories about Hotel Managers who ignore the contracts and agreements of understanding, as well as of ConComs who didn't make stuff clear in the first place. *sigh*) Fans really aren't great at prior planning unless it's necessary and (I think) parties are an area where the appearance of spontaneity is expected.


    #208 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 09:43 AM:

    Jack #198:

    I think I'd try that cocktail. However, I wouldn't have when I still lived in Maine. If that makes any sense--probably not.

    One soda I always put out at parties is some form of cream soda. For some reason, these are always the first to go. However, it might be because I have a great thirst for cream soda at all times (yes, even the nasty red cream soda they have in Ohio--and I'm sure others will chime in and tell me where else red cream soda may be found).

    Dr. Brown's is a favorite, but A&W makes a damn fine cream soda as well. A&W's diet cream soda is surprisingly tasty and doesn't summon the Old Ones.

    #209 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 10:32 AM:

    A&W's diet cream soda is surprisingly tasty and doesn't summon the Old Ones -- now I have an image of Moxie as a sacramental beverage at unspeakable ceremonies performed in New England. My mother-in-law sends a bottle to my Maine-born husband every Christmas (tastes like formaldehyde to me), but perhaps she has other holidays in mind!

    #210 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 11:08 AM:

    A long, long time ago, Nehi sold a Windex blue cream soda -- it got all sorts of double-takes when one carried it through the con in a clear 2 liter soda bottle...

    (You had to keep the label hidden to get the best responses.)

    #211 ::: Ailsa Ek ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 12:44 PM:

    Why is it Moxie is an officially Scary Soda (TM) and Cel-Ray isn't? Granted, I like the latter and not the former, but most of my friends like neither.

    #212 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 02:03 PM:

    I'd never start making out in a convention room party.

    What if they all _critiqued_ me?

    What a happy thought! It would be an excellent way to turn an antisocial activity back into a group activity for the party. Hosts could provide scorecards. Also, the hosts could provide eyebrow pencils and laundry markers for decorating sleeping guests.

    #213 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 02:39 PM:

    Anyone who doesn't want their Fernet, just slide it this way — I'll be sure to find a good home for it where it'll be appreciated.

    So is it the bitterness that people don't like in Moxie? (I've never tried it.)

    #214 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 03:57 PM:

    Moxie is basically carbonated molasses. I wouldn't say "bitter"--but there's a whole world of unpalatable tastes out there that are outside of "bitter."

    Lori, #210: Windex-blue cream soda? It MUST be MINE!

    #215 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 04:04 PM:

    Chryss, I don't know if Nehi still makes it, but you should see the looks you get when you either chug it, or offer someone a sip!

    #216 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 04:11 PM:

    "Moxie is basically carbonated molasses."

    I'd say carbonated cough syrup. There's a medicinal-root aspect to the flavor that molasses doesn't cover.

    Mind, I like the stuff. Although it's been maybe fourteen years since I last had some.

    #217 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 04:33 PM:

    You guys should hear what the Brits say about root beer. (It tastes like a common disinfectant, Germoline, smells.)

    #218 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 04:42 PM:

    # 213 Lexica Anyone who doesn't want their Fernet, just slide it this way

    What does it taste like? I was given (and enjoyed hugely) a copy of _Cooking with Fernet Branca_ by James Hamilton-Paterson (actually fiction, not a cookbook, although there are recipes bordering on the Futurist), but have no idea of how vile (or otherwise) the star ingredient might be.

    #219 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 05:33 PM:

    An article from the SF Weekly described it like so:

    When you hold a shot glass of Fernet-Branca to your nose, the first thing that strikes you is the physicality of the smell, which, if such a thing existed, is like black licorice-flavored Listerine. Put it to your lips and tip it back, and the assault on the throat and sinuses is aggressively medicinal. For many so-called "Fergins" uninitiated to the drink, it can be accompanied by a feeling that may either bring a tear to the eye or lunch to the esophagus. As a bitter Italian aperitif of more than 40 herbs and spices, it most often gets compared to Campari and Jägermeister, though by measure of accuracy, it's equally similar to Robitussin or Pennzoil....

    If you can imagine getting punched squarely in the nose while sucking on a mentholated cough drop, you'll have an idea of Fernet-Branca's indelicate first impressions.

    Even people who come to love it admit that their first reaction was "Ugh, that's foul!"

    #220 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 05:39 PM:

    Not just the Brits, though. I once had a get-together with some grad students in my lab (a typical engineering lab, there were about 15 people there from about 10 different countries), and "root beer tastes like hospitals" was something all the Europeans agreed on.

    I always wondered what the cleaning agent was called in case I have the opportunity to buy some. A root-beer-smelling house sounds wonderful to me.

    #221 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 06:05 PM:

    Chryss #214 - Gatorade Glacier Frost is the color of Windex. I have a half-empty bottle right here.

    #222 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 08:16 PM:

    Ailsa (#211): Why is it Moxie is an officially Scary Soda (TM) and Cel-Ray isn't? Granted, I like the latter and not the former

    I think you answered your own question. I don't drink sodas much anymore, but I'd gladly down a can of Cel-Ray anytime. (And, since Katz's Delicatessen serves it, it's there pretty much anytime I want.) I might be persuaded to try Moxie again, and might even not dislike it, but I wouldn't go out of my way to find it.

    As for that description of Fernet-Branca (#219), it's brilliant.

    #223 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2006, 11:08 PM:

    several: meat habits vary hugely. My impression has been that the no-meat pizza we get for the 1-2 people who observe the minimal kosher separation of milk and meat doesn't have to be particularly guarded; I suspect that any new group (e.g., even the first public worksession in an area you've been catering for years) needs a good basic meat-vs count.

    #179: I have limited tolerance for the idea that conduct should be constrained because there are children present, especially at an evening room party (cf the Bill Cosby album with one each early and late shows). Children are hard to embarass or freak out; I was thinking just before this came up of the party where a 14yo was giving about a yard of tongue and the Secret Handgrip of Fandom. (My main question was how she got a chair into the middle of the floor in the most crowded party in the con.) An SF convention is not a leather meet, but it's not Main Street in Podunk either.

    203/207: There is no common practice -- conventions vary too widely -- but many cons (a) try to declare loud and quiet floors and (b) try to make sure the big suites go to big open parties. Wiscon is one extreme: one sleeping floor is mostly party rooms (the few who sleep there must be able to sleep through morning sunlight), all of which are usually booked in advance -- not so much solicited IME (although the PR warns people that booking is needed) but definitely booked. Small cons can be the other extreme.

    Mike: So when did 86-proof become acceptable? Nowadays 80 is the European standard; all the distilleries we've visited sniffed that they bottled an 86 just for the Americans, and >100 proof is definitely out of the mainstream (Wild Turkey, yes, but also slivovitz and gonzo rums).

    #224 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 12:59 AM:

    Ulrika@212:
    "Also, the hosts could provide eyebrow pencils and laundry markers for decorating sleeping guests."

    Not a convention party story, but: Back a long time ago, one of our friends overindulged in strong drink at a private party and fell asleep.

    When he woke up the next morning, all the other guests were gone and the hosts had gone to their own bedroom. Sometime during the night, though, someone had not only thoughtfully removed all of his clothes... but had also painted his penis green.

    As it happened, he had an important job interview scheduled for that same morning... and a glance at the clock showed the appointment was only minutes away. He had, barely/only enough time to find and put on his clothes and rush off to the interview.

    Didn't go well, didn't get the job. He said that all thru the interview, the only thought that went thru his mind, repeatedly, was "I have a green penis... I have a green penis... oh, God-d-d-d-d-d-d, I have a green penis..."

    #225 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 01:40 AM:

    CHip: That I don't know. Obviously those 86es are not Night Train and the other truck-radiator distillations that gave the breed its rep. (Out of curiosity, I just looked at my bottle of Talisker, and it's 91.6 proof.) It's possible that, in an era where people seem to want to drink a lot but want it to taste like Slurpee, the makers have started making some lower-proof varieties. ("The poor man's smooth.") (The issue of 151 rum is another thing entirely.)

    #226 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 04:14 AM:

    Mike Ford: There're still some strong whiskies (at least of the single malt Scottish version) produced, as you say. Grappa and the like, too (but that may fall under CHiP's "out of the mainstream").

    #227 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 07:40 AM:

    Spirits here in Ireland tend to be 40% by volume, which is 80 degrees, I believe. I've seen a fair bit of 37.5 or 38%, and people like Smirnoff and Irish Distillers used to make Blue Label vodka and gin, which was 50% by volume, and sell scads of it in airport duty frees.

    I haven't seen any Blue Label Cork Dry Gin since the duty free shops were abolished.

    #228 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 08:32 AM:

    Marilee, #221: Yes but it's not cream soda. But, if I ever want to make one of the Sandra Lee inspired "Windex-tinis" from Television Without Pity.com, I'll grab that.

    Stefan, #216: You're right, carbonated cough syrup is a MUCH better description.

    #229 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 09:49 AM:

    Folks who want to experience Moxie for themselves can get it here: http://mainegoodies.com/beverages/moxie.shtml

    Here's a history of Moxie: http://www.mariettasodamuseum.com/moxie_facts.htm

    And here's the page for the annual Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls, Maine: http://www.moxiefestival.com/

    #230 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 10:06 AM:

    So far all the parties here at Worldcon seem to have been following some version of the above guidelines, although many seem to be dumping the ice into the tubs without padding. Experience so far seems to be showing that more diet drinks may be a good idea. Having all the parties on the lanai level, which opens up an outside door as well as a hallway door, is working very well indeed -- and would work better if it cooled off a bit more a night. It's a tad muggy as well. The one problem is that the hotel is built around the sides of the three courtyards, so the hallway arrangement can be confusing -- check the signs for what room numbers are where and don't assume you understand where you are.

    #231 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 12:21 PM:

    The soda of Cthulhu is, of course, misca-tonic, which you get by mixing several kinds of imiscable tonic.

    #232 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 01:43 PM:

    Lexica, #219 When you hold a shot glass of Fernet-Branca to your nose, the first thing that strikes you is the physicality of the smell, which, if such a thing existed, is like black licorice-flavored Listerine.

    Eeuw, BLECK!

    I had to ask, didn't I. It's even worse for me because licorice is one of those can't-tolerate-it-under-any-circs smells, along w/ wintergreen, spearmint, and whatever ghastly ingredient is in Juicy Fruit gum.

    #233 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 01:55 PM:

    Jackfruit is the flavoring used for Juicy Fruit Gum. You can get the fresh fruit at a lot of farmers' markets in Hawai'i.

    #234 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 02:21 PM:

    joann @ 232: I love wintergreen (and the actual plant is lucky for young children, did you know that?) but can't stand peppermint. I guess it's a matter of what you got sick on as a kid!

    #235 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 02:21 PM:

    Lori #233 Thanks for warning me. I'll know to avoid it in future. (I tend to avoid super-exotic fruits anyway, having, instead, an unreasonable fondness for heirloom tomatoes and apples.)

    #236 ::: Ed Dravecky III ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 05:35 PM:

    One thing that's worked quite well for FenCon room parties is using "pop-up" collapsible mesh laundry hampers, the kind often found in dorm rooms, as trash cans. Available at many dollar stores or Big Lots and such, line one of these with a 30-gallon bag and you've got a sturdy, flexible trash can that weighs almost nothing and folds down to a thin flexible disc. We keep several in our party kit.

    #237 ::: Marna ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 06:38 PM:

    Teresa: absolutely as regards allergies. You can't guarantee anything, ever, and I don't expect people to; I just read labels and keep my hands in my pockets at buffets.

    You can't DO an allergy safe con-party without an amazing amount of effort; it is necessary to assume that if there's an allergin in the room, it's been carried to all the food that's out. And if people go to a ton of effort I feel dreadful, because I still can't necessarily trust the food.

    My parties are safe for ME, but it takes some energy and attention and asking people not to bring in outside food.

    And most people with food limitations make sure to have a proper meal before going con-party hopping.

    But a lot of party hosts feel really really badly if they've got a guest they can't feed, and allergic guests find it awkward to be always politely turning down urgent solicitations to 'try the X, it's wonderful!', and are grateful for something other than a drink to wrap their hands around while they chat, to deflect cake-bearing strangers with good intentions.

    Little packets of pretzels or goldfish crackers or something similar, or small fruits like apples and oranges, are all good ways to deal with that without making everything unbearably complex.

    One can always nip off and quietly rinse fruits and veggies, too, which takes care of the chance that they were last touched by someone who'd just been eating M and Ms or whatever.

    #238 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 11:38 AM:

    I got curious about what rootbeer actually has in it.
    Wiki: ... vanilla, cherry tree bark, licorice root, sarsaparilla root, sassafras root bark (which is carcinogenic), nutmeg, anise, and molasses among other ingredients.
    [snip]
    Other ingredients may include allspice, birch bark, coriander, juniper, ginger, wintergreen, hops, burdock root, dandelion root, spikenard, pipsissewa, guaiacum, yellow dock, honey, clover, cinnamon, prickly ash bark, quillaia, and yucca.

    The sarsaparilla is not a surprise - I'd met it as a soft drink once, and the flavor is similar but not identical to root beer. (Wiki discusses the sassafras root bark and its substitutes.)

    #239 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 01:26 PM:

    Mary's Spikenard Soda
    The one in the alabaster bottle.

    #240 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 05:41 AM:

    As a bit of a coincidence I tried Fernet Branca during this thread. I hope I do not insult too many Italians by saying that it reminded me a bit too much about the kind liquids that you gargle with, rather than swallow. I also hope that that I do not express too much of a Scandinavian bias in preferring Gammel Dansk, if I were to drink such things.

    #241 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 08:40 AM:

    Worldcon parties: the problem with the Lanai deck is that everyone stands out there smoking, so many of the parties with doors open to the Lanai deck had a lot of ambient smoke. I couldn't even go in the door of the Columbus party one night; the smoke was already unbearable in the hallway outside it. The second room of the Hugo Losers party had a similar problem.

    It's sort of depressing to have the balconies of the fancy-suite parties (Tor, Hugo Losers) be air-free zones - I'd have loved to stand out there admiring the view, but there were so many smokers it was impossible.

    On the bright side, it was better overall in this regard than the party area at Glasgow the first couple of nights.

    #242 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 10:45 AM:

    Back to Moxie soda - I sighted a bottle in a Seattle supermarket on Saturday, but I refrained from purchasing it. Too expensive.

    #243 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 11:21 AM:

    sassafras root bark

    Sassafras hasn't been used in sodas in the US since the mid-sixties.

    #244 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 11:48 AM:

    Because, I heard on NPR over the weekend, it's carcinogenic.

    #245 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 11:54 AM:

    They banned sassafras because safrole is a carcinogen, but apparently there are some other carcinogens in sassafras also, so whatever derivative they use in root beer these days may be problematic. (It may explain why the flavor isn't the same as it used to was.)

    #246 ::: Karina Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 10:43 PM:

    While I have helped out on numerous room parties/con suites over my fannish life, next year I will actually be taking one over (small 500 person regional), so this list is a godsend...I have been looking for something like it since I found out last year that I will be taking over in 2007.

    However, I am the concessions-stocker for my theatre company and there is no doubt whatsoever that the Diet Coke goes faster than the regular. That regular and diet with lime go about evenly with regular outpacing it slightly. Sprite and Lipton's Ice Tea are the laggers...in that order.

    Of the munchies, the various cookie things go the quickest (Grandma's and vanilla wafers outpacing Oreos), plain over peanut/almond in the chocolate department and all the non-chocolate candy about neck and neck. Weirdly and (I might say grossly) Lance's Ry-Chees do really well.

    PS. Hi to those of you on the list I recognize from my yout' when I was a Boardman or a Girsdansky..whichever you knew me by.

    #247 ::: Arthur Dent 79 ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 11:26 PM:

    For a different perspective, there's a different how-to list (starts from the beginning), and a Room parties page from a ConRunner's wiki that directly links to this thread.

    #248 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2006, 05:34 PM:

    I always used to get garlic bread for the room parties we held for our convention, having survived a bunch of neo-fans who showed up in Portland not having eaten in two days in favor of gas money and who bolted down the Summer Sausage. (You can usually get a loaf or two cheap at A Grocery Store Near You and if you can't arrange for a toaster oven or microwave you can often get help from another party that has one.) Unfortunately a member of our concom hates garlic bread and I got tired of fighting the battle. (She favors party food like pretzels that were in the first Worldcon consuite and generic soda. I've quit shopping for groceries at cons with her.)

    #249 ::: P J evans sees loud comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:23 PM:

    Long-winded title, too.

    #250 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2006, 05:42 PM:

    Karina in #246, where are you, geographically? I went to college in central New York, where I became addicted to Lance's Ry-Chees. Love 'em. Then I moved to NYC, where they're nowhere to be found, and now I discover that I can't locate 'em upstate anymore either. I had thought them gone forever. But no! Here you are, to deliver a ray of hope! And that makes me happy.

    #251 ::: Nancy C spots comment spam on ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 02:32 PM:

    And wonders why she is tempted to rot-13 it and see what it says....

    #252 ::: Julia Jones sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2006, 02:33 PM:

    252 as I write is random garbage, but could be something testing out the defences against spambots. There's also one still hanging around at 249.

    #253 ::: Flashdriver ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2007, 10:11 PM:

    Hey Karina,
    Long time no... Hope to stop by your con suite- Don't forget the salt and vinegar potato chips!

    #254 ::: Steve Simmons ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 03:23 PM:

    I'd add to the list - the hotel is potentially your friend. If you call the hotel as soon as you arrive and ask for some trash frames and extra bags for them, the hotel is likely to be quite compliant. In 30 years as partymeister for the Dorsai Irregulars, I have never once been turned down on this front.

    A pair of designated partymeisters is critical. Somebody actually needs to be responsible for refreshing supplies stuff as they decline. Anything that makes the meisters' job easier is a win. In our case, it usually argues for one large food table that is easily monitored and reached by the meisters. Why two? So one can relieve the other as needed, can refresh supplies without leaving the 'main post' abandoned, can work together on multi-person jobs, etc, etc. Two is just better than one.

    Re cold drinks and refreshing them: there's a conflict here. If you've got a tub full of iced drinks and need to refresh it, adding more to the top buries the cold stuff and is generally ugly. Pushing it to the bottom and bringing the cold to the top is slow and painful. I prefer to bite the bullet and chill it all at once. This does require thought, as you don't want a layer of coke, a layer of beer, a layer of coke, etc. I prefer to fill the bottom full with a mix, layer on some ice, build another mixed layer, add more ice, rinse, lather, repeat until it's all in the tub. Then close the drain and run some water in - it'll all chill faster. But as you do this, build each layer *full* - otherwise layering on the ice tumble the cans and bottles, leading to breakage.

    I'm not a fan of paper plates. Paper bowls. More sturdy, harder to spill from, and just generally better. Oh, you can't get as much food into them without mixing? Tragedy! Not. It's a party, not a free feed.

    Door watch if it's not an open party? Absolutely. Almost as important are clear policy and a door person who can recognize those who should and shouldn't be granted entry. As you say, blow it once and you're an elitist forever.

    I second everything Erik has said about blue tape.

    Yes, GT and DI have thrown joint parties. It's been . . . interesting. Usually successful, but we've had our flops, largely from violating some of the rules you suggest.

    #255 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 05:41 PM:

    I confer a gold star upon this post, because I just ran a *three-day* room party at a gaming convention (PAX East) and it went entirely smoothly. Scissors, garbage bags, and the Blue Tape That Surpasseth All Understanding were all available when the need for them appeared.

    Thanks.

    #256 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 07:33 PM:

    I used to help run room parties to promote the dearly departed Atlanta Fantasy Fair... those were the days. Trashcan full of 'punch', a blender going for Kool Aid slushies and a room full of mad scientists.

    #257 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2013, 12:34 PM:

    And for those room parties that do want music, relying on the hotel's "music tv station" is probably less than optimal. The hosts will presumably want music that fits with their theme, and not be stuck with whatever the hotel happens to provide. If jared at (currently) 258 didn't have a commercial URL linked to his name I might think that he's just being hlepful, but as it is, I think it's probably spam. Though better targeted spam than most.

    #258 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 06:00 PM:

    And while I'm here, taking the opportunity to read the thread and make some comments, since it predates my arrival here as an active commenter.

    On the discussion of drinks proportions, I will note that 8 years after this was originally posted, the demand for both diet soda and unsweetened flavored fizzy water has increased dramatically, as more and more fen are going on diets, eschewing carbs, and/or being diagnosed with diabetes. And I'll endorse the recommendation for plain bottled water, as there are very few people who won't drink that. (Yes, I do know at least one guy who won't touch it; he complains that it tastes like the plastic bottle.)

    I've actually encountered someone who wouldn't drink the Diet Coke with Splenda because she couldn't stand the taste. So having some of both varieties is probably a good idea.

    While I agree with the comments on Moxie as a general thing, I might very well have 1 6-pack of it at a party (if I could get it locally) because I find it unobjectionable enough to drink any leftovers.

    Re grouping parties, most local/regional cons these days seem to be settling out on the practice of having a Party Floor, and emphasizing that if you're going to hold a room party, you need to go thru the Hotel Liaison and get assigned a room on that floor. Exactly which room you'll get isn't necessarily known in advance, but it does cut down a lot on the wear and tear on the elevators. I recall one Rivercon and several Worldcons where I think I spent more time waiting for/on the elevator between parties than I did at the parties!

    One of the few things that DenVention did right was to arrange with the party hotel for the exclusive use of one elevator, which ran express between the lobby and the party floor all night. There was still a line waiting to board, but said line moved pretty quickly, and people going to other floors used the other elevators.

    I don't find stories about "decorating" sleeping people as funny as I used to. There are significant consent issues involved, and saying "if you don't want it to happen, don't get drunk and pass out" is uncomfortably close to saying the same thing to women about being raped while drunk.

    #259 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 06:57 PM:

    Lee (261): You know at least two people who won't drink plain bottled water. I'm another, and not because of the plastic bottle; I just have a very hard time drinking plain water unless I'm seriously dehydrated.

    #260 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 07:10 PM:

    I don't object much to clear plastic bottles of water - they don't have the flavor as much as the colored bottles. (Those early bottles of 'Dasani' were really awful.)

    Also, I find mineral water can be very tasty when I'm dehydrated, but at other times it's 'meh' at best.

    #261 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2014, 07:46 PM:

    P J Evans @ #263 wrote:

    'Dasani'? You mean Peckham Spring?

    #262 ::: Bob Devney ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 05:40 PM:

    Teresa, hope you were able to enjoy some last Mimolette in some cool room party at LonCon.

    Because according to the chief cheesemonger at the Wegman's in Chestnut Hill, MA, it's now been effectively banned in the USA. Apparently the FDA noticed Mimolette has had mites in the rind since the reign of Louis XIV.

    Problem confirmed by articles like the one linked below.

    And hard cheese to us all ...

    http://www.sfgate.com/food/cheesecourse/article/Mimolette-imports-on-hold-4926637.php

    #263 ::: P J Evans sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 12:15 PM:

    The usual non-comment, with the usual trick of hiding the URL in the name.

    #264 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2014, 03:03 PM:

    On the other hand, the spam DID bring this excellent thread to my attention. Some friends of mine have been musing, off and on, about the logistics of actually hosting a room party at one of our largish regional conventions, and I'm printing out the thread-starter and handing it to them. Not all of it will apply, but most of it will.

    (Gosh, this sounds like praise-spam, doesn't it? <wry grin> It *is* sincerely meant.)

    #265 ::: David Harmon sees more spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2014, 05:41 AM:

    Rereading the post, I snickered anew at "haploid and diploid M&M's". And in the time since then, gluten-free stuff has been added to the "dietary needs" list.

    Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

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