Monthly Archives: September 2012

More Worldcon Space Stuff

Prompted by this discussion on Kevin Standlee’s Live Journal, I did a bit of playing with space (not budget like Kevin’s post) for one real Worldcon, and 3 theoretical Worldcons.  The real Worldcon, the recently finished Chicon 7.  The three theoretical Worldcons: one at the Albuquerque Convention Center, two slightly different layouts at the San Diego Convention Center and a layout at the Town and Country in San Diego.

My details are on a Google Drive (f.k.a. Google Docs) spreadsheet, which I’ve made publicly readable.

My conclusions still hold: The only viable site out of the three is the San Diego Convention Center.  Albuquerque has the space (plus an extra 60,000 square feet of exhibition hall I couldn’t put to use), but not the hotels (951 rooms nearby, possibly more in some obscure hotels), and the T&C doesn’t have the space.

Actually, I was able to get everything into the T&C, but only by using all of the space, including the space that is for all intents and purposes inaccessible.  And this still is the smallest usage.  (It is possible that it is closer to what Chicon 7 actually used – I couldn’t recall for sure if all of the smaller rooms on the “Silver” and “Bronze” levels were used or not).  And this would actually be sprawling the convention across what are actually two or three hotels, with a bunch of odd sized and oddly located rooms.

None of my runs took into account Con Suite (I left that space out of my Chicon 7 “leftover” space).  For the two convention center layouts, this would probably have to be a room at the one of the adjacent hotels (I’m not sure either actually has a connected hotel), and even then it might end up in a sleeping room or suite.  This is another area where the T&C could be problematic.  The T&C pretty much gives us two choices for con suite: where it was for WFC 2011 and Anime Conji 3, and where it is for Conjecture, Condor and Gaslight Gathering – both of which would not work well for a Worldcon con suite (too small, overflow seating to outside – either against a fence or down a goodly flight of stairs).

I also didn’t take parties into account.  I cannot speak to either of the hotels adjacent to the SDCC, nor the ones adjacent to the Albuquerque Convention Center.  But the rooms in the T&C would make a Worldcon party scene nearly impossible.  They’d either be in what I’ve described as the world’s tallest motel, or in a building with cramped hallways and vertically stacked suites.

As far as the 2.5 San Diego options are concerned, I will again reiterate: This is only theoretical.  If you throw $20.00 at me, you better either be expecting to pre-support the Westercon bid, or you are buying me dinner!

 

Podcast Idea: Con Runners Roundtable

On my walk today, I was listening to an episode of SF Squeecast.  I am not much of a podcast listener. Mostly, I haven’t taken the time to find ones I enjoy – but SF Squeecast, or at least the first half of episode 12, is doing pretty well.

However, during this walk, that little voice, the one that feeds another voice that says “you can add one more project to your load,” started me thinking that a podcast might be something fun to be involved in.  A topic that occurred to me as one that might be interesting and appeal to at least a niche market would be Con Runners Roundtable (or some similar title).  Basically, it would end up being a monthly or quarterly panel from SMOFCon and similar events.

Besides time, the two other things I don’t have (or don’t know that I have), is the equipment and knowledge to record and release one.

Of course, if someone else thinks that this is a good idea and has at least part of what I’m missing, feel free to run with it; and include me when appropriate and I have time.

Results of a Gedankenexperiment 3 of 3

This is on a totally different subject, and one I don’t normally even spend much brain power, sports – and specifically football.

Somewhere a week or two back, I read that someone was calling for a ban on anyone below college playing football.  This was due to the brain and other injuries caused by repeated hard hits.

Knowing that there are both emotional and practical reasons that this won’t come to pass, I started thinking of other things that could be done to reduce the number and strength of impacts, with only a moderate change on the game overall.

I don’t think I quite succeeded, but I did come up with something that I think would work: reducing the number of players per side on any given play from 11 down to 6, with only three allowed on the line and three in the back field.  Without changing the size of the playing field, this would open the game up, and change the line game enough so that the line players wouldn’t be hitting each other hard.

However, further reflection makes me think that there might need to be a few other rule changes to make it really work, such as allowing other ways of blocking and increasing penalties on roughing the back-field.

But, this won’t ever happen.  After all it would change the game enough that the fans wouldn’t like it.  And it probably wouldn’t make me care any more for the game that I do now, so this is probably all for the best.

Results of a Gedankenexperiment 2 of 3

As I mentioned briefly last Monday or Tuesday, I am beginning to strongly think that the time is due, or past due, for a Hugo Award to recognize Filk and/or Filk performers.

This, and some delay to get added to a Facebook community, resulted in me finding a similar discussion there.  I was able to say my piece: that if anyone wants this to happen, they need to be prepared to get attending members to the 3 or 4 requisite Worldcon business meetings.

So, this experiment has pretty much come to conclusion without me having to even write it up.

Results of a Gedankenexperiment 1 of 3

Disclaimer 1: The below is purely speculative.  I am making no plans to go forward with this.  Anyone trying to shove $20.00 in my direction will have merely bought me dinner – or be buying memberships on something I’m already working on.

Disclaimer 2: I’ve heard rumors of rumors that some of our fannish brethren in the more northern reaches of Southern California may be planning to do almost what was the final conclusion of this gedankenexperiment.

During Chicon 7, one evening my roommate for the con and I started discussing – purely theoretically – where a Worldcon could be held run by the fan organizations in San Diego.  Naturally, we started with site in San Diego.

First to be analyzed was the Town and Country – a property we are familiar with due to its frequent use as a convention site over the last few years.  While I’ve not looked at the total amount of function space used by recent Worldcons, I’m pretty sure that a Worldcon would require every piece of function space available at the Town and Country.  This is where much of the problem would come into play.  At the very least, the exhibition hall on the west side – which would probably need to be used for some subset of large hall functions: dealers’ room, art show and fan table/exhibits – and two medium sized and three small sized rooms on the east side have access challenges.

On top of that, I don’t think there is quite enough sleeping rooms at the T&C, so one or more overflow hotel would be required.  And there are no overflow hotels that are walkable to the T&C.  The other hotels on Hotel Circle are close, but the area isn’t walkable.  The other choice would be the two other Mission Valley hotels on the trolley line, requiring taking the trolley to and from the con.]

The final thing to overcome is the poor reputation the T&C currently has in spite of a number of successful cons at that venue.

After pretty much eliminating the T&C, we moved to the San Diego Convention Center and one or both of the adjacent hotels.  Our memory-based analysis was that we could probably do Worldcon using part or all of the 2nd floor, with the Sails Pavilion being used for dealers’ room, art show and the fan tables/exhibition area.  Further, if the budget allowed us to get Ballroom 20 set up with the same staging and tech that Comic-Con uses, we’d be more than able to let everyone who wants to see the Masquerade and Hugo Awards in, since Comic-Con puts more people in there than are currently attending Worldcon regularly.

The problems with this are the lack of smaller rooms in the convention center – forcing us to use hotel space for some functions – and the price of hotel rooms.  A quick check showed that rates this year near labor day for the Marriott were running nearly $200.00 a night, which puts them beyond the point at which fans will blanch at the price.

This led to my conclusion that if San Diego fandom wanted to even think about running a Worldcon, we’d need to “carpet bag” the Anaheim Convention Center and the adjacent Hilton and Marriott – the convention center and hotels used in 2006 for LA Con IV, as well as for the 1999 NASFiC, LA Con III in 1996, and I believe one or both of the prior LA Cons.

But if San Diego fandom were to do this, we’d clearly need the support of the fen in Orange County (if they do more than throw orange business cards on a table at LosCon) and in the rest of the greater L.A./Inland Empire area; at which point it would start looking an awful lot like an LA Bid – which rumors are may be brewing for 2019 or 2021.

Conjecture 2013 and San Diego in 2015 Westercon Bid Meeting Schedule Poll

[wpsqt name=”Preferred Conjecture 2013 and San Diego in 2015 Westercon Bid Meeting Schedule – x” type=”poll”]

Chicon Report: Days 3-5

Saturday was my day to have fun, more or less.

First up for me was the first half of the main business meeting.  I was authorized to share the numbers (only) of nominating ballots, unique works nominated and works nominated on more than 5% of the ballots for Fanzine, Fancast and Graphic Story.  Fancast was up for ratification, but had been held this year at Chicon’s optional category; and Graphic Story would have ended unless reaffirmed by the business meeting.  Both passed without requiring a count.

I had to leave before much of the direct debate on the Young Adult Hugo Award was held, but I later learned that it did fail.  However, I cannot feel guilty for leaving as it failed by well more than one vote, and I’d encouraged other friends who have previously expressed interest in this to show up at the meeting to no avail.

The reason I had to leave was to go to the Christian Fandom meeting.  Due undoubtedly to the same communication glitches that resulted in the Sunday service not being on the schedule – and probably in me having a conflicting panel – there were three “panelists” beside Randy Smith who’d requested the room for the meeting.  This was a fairly typical Christian Fandom meeting.  The only notable thing was someone, I think it was Randy, mentioning to Nolly that Connie Willis wanted one of her “Yes to reason, yes to faith” ribbon; and then as we were leaving, I saw Connie leaving the panel across the narrow hallway – so I was quickly able to hook them up for the transaction.

Once I was clear of the traffic jam, I worked my way to the Green Room/Staff Lounge (where I felt comfortable visiting as I had both Staff and Program Participant ribbons legitimately) for a quick lunch on my way to the Plaza ballroom for three hours (more or less) of concerts.  I arrived a bit late for Seanan McGuire’s concert – which was standing room only.  Eventually, I was able to work my way to a place on the floor I could sit, and near the end, I found a seat.  After Seanan’s set had ended, I was able to find a much closer seat for Vixy and Tony (who had already been performing as second lead/backup singer and guitar for Seanan’s set).  In both cases, I heard a number of songs I was familiar with (Seanan’s from the Hugo Nominated Wicked Girls, and Vixy and Tony’s from Thirteen, including the song that resulted in my buying the album after Westercon in 2010, “Mal’s Song”), and songs that were new to at least me.

I left after Vixy and Tony’s set both so I could get back to the bid table (for the first time all day), and as I was less interested in sticking around to hear The Great Luke Ski. At this point, I’ve grown a bit tired of his act and am not as interested in hearing his newer stuff, and have grown much more fond of the more (for lack of a better term) mainstream Filk.

After the table shut down at six, I joined Val and Ron for dinner.  We added Bill Thomasson, who Val didn’t realize I was already friends with (probably forgetting I’d been part of Chicon since it was the 2008 bid).  After dinner, I hit up some parties, mostly the convention/bid promoting parties.  For a while, this was interrupted for a meeting to discuss possible Guests of Honor for our potential Westercon – figuring that if we came to any solid conclusions who we could talk to at Chicon, we needed to know.  No conclusions were reached, so I will need to call a meeting (real, virtual or a mix) where we can at least decide on a process to decide.

Sunday, I was scheduled to do three panels, the first at 9:00.  As I had gotten to bed a bit late and slept hard, I was running a bit late, so I quickly grabbed breakfast in the Green Room and headed to my panel: “Learning Disabilities in Fandom.”  This was a good panel.  I am not surprised that two of the panelists – the ones on either side – were diagnosed and admitted Autistics (or at least had Asperger’s Syndrom).

After the panel, I spent a bit of time checking on the fan table, and then headed back to the green room to grab something to substitute for lunch, which really ended up being a pretty reasonable and normal lunch before heading to my panel “Winter is Coming” on the TV series Game of Thrones.

This too was a good panel, albiet in a small room which was understandably crowded.  Before starting, it was decided that we would run the full 75 minutes, but if people wanted to leave early for better seats in George R. R. Martin’s reading in the other tower during the next slot, they could.

The moderator of this panel had come more prepared than most moderators.  In addition to having the panel description (which I had hastily reread to confirm that both seasons were potential topics), he had information on all of the panelists.  Fortunately, I was the last panelist he introduced, and I was sitting next to him where I could read his notes, allowing me to have time to register what he was referring to when mentioning an internet post where I expressed admiration for Rory McCann’s performance in “Blackwater,” so I was able to intelligently expand upon the post.

I’ll admit to letting a couple of book spoilers slip out (but I don’t think any serious ones).

About 50 minutes into the panel, the moderator was handed a note that Ron Donachie (who played Ser Rodrik Cassel) was outside and wished to join, and included one suggested question.  This followed into an intelligent discussion where Donachie admitted to fanish leanings (having had one of Martin’s books on his shelf when he was called for the audition), and I was able to again share my admiration for McCann’s performance (which may well get relayed to McCann given the not-huge size of the British acting fraternity).

After that, I worked my way over for the Martin reading, where I got in with little problem.  Martin read one of the “sidebars” from the upcoming _World of Ice and Fire_ world book.  This one was couched as a Maester’s paper on Aegon’s conquest of Westros.  As Martin said up front, this was history not story narrative.  Afterwards, he admitted that this could easily be used as the background outline for a new series of novels.  As far as the work goes, it stands up remarkably well to much of the more historical writings from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Similarion and the appendices to The Lord of The Rings.

After that, I went to spend the rest of the day at the fan table, which I closed early so that I could get ready for the pre-ceremony reception for the Hugo Awards.  As I had not expected to go to The Hugo Awards this year, I had not packed my sport coat or suit (which may not even fit due to the 25 extra pounds I’m carrying again).  But I had been sure to wear a polo shirt, and had cleaned up myself – going to the extent of using the magnifying makeup mirror in the bathroom to trim my mustache and berd with my mustache trimming scissors),

I enjoyed the reception, even if I felt both a bit out of place due to being underdressed and only part of the committee, and being overwhelmed by the number of well known authors and big name fans around.  The latter was pretty silly, because I could probably walk up and talk to most of them if they were in another party, and could – and in at least one case had – sat on panels with them.  I did have a short talk with Allen Steele, where I mentioned that for Chicon “at least the lights stayed on.”

About the time the reception began, I finalized my decision that since I’d done a lot of work on the Hugo Awards (probably several hundred hours total) I should be allowed to see them through, so I could blow off my 7:30 panel.  And I did.

As an invitee to the reception, I was also allowed to sit in the reserved front section, but I chose a seat in the back of that.  I was joined during the awards by Ron and Val who were ushering, and enjoyed my seat.  Not only was I only a few rows from the stage, I was right behind Chris Garcia (a prime position at any Hugo Awards, even if Chris didn’t win one this year).  I fear this I potentially risked spoiling for a few seconds one of the three awards I remembered who won (at least according to my program’s counts), when I glanced in the direction of George R. R. Martin and Ron Donachie just as John Scalzi was reading the winner for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

Other observations from the awards include noting how that even though both E. Lilly Yu and Ken Liu seem to have completely American accents and are very likely American by birth, that they both still expressed a bit of the cultural humility that is present in many East Asian cultures.  I also note that it worked brilliantly to have John Scalzi give out all of the awards – except for Best Short Story, where he was one of the nominees.

After the Hugo Awards, I spent a bit of time in the lobby area waiting for the traffic jam for the escalator to clear.  For some reason the hotel was unable to either reverse the down escalators to make them all go up, or was unable to open the doors at the top of the second set of escalators – which I later found actually lead into the Chicago Pedway in an area that is apparently, or at least not in appearance  part of the hotel.

After reaching street level, I determined that the elevator line was similarly longer than I wanted to wait through, so I took the escalator to the second level, and then headed up the stairs to my room on the 30th floor (27 or 28 flights).  I was a bit winded, even with stops about every 5 floors (at least after the 15th floor), and I wanted to call home.  So I was a bit startled to find the door to my room open, and actually somewhat less startled to see a sign with an arrow pointing people through the connecting door and out.  Adam had agreed to let the Phoenix NASFiC bid use our room as an exit to improve traffic flow.

So I did have to deal with a couple of minor interruptions while on the phone (a couple that ignored me when I told them “this is just the exit for the Phoenix party” and the chair of the Orlando bid using our bathroom – a faux pas in my book).  I later hit up some of the parties, ending by spending a fair amount of time in the K.C. party talking Hugos and other topics with Diane, who was this year’s Hugo admin and one of three chairs of the K.C. in 2016 bid (as well as co-chair of the Montreal in 2017 bid and chair of the 2013 Smofcon bid for Tronto).

Today, I got moving fairly reasonably for how late I got in last night.  But when I got into the Pedway to head for the same place I had gotten breakfast every day this week except Sunday, I found it – and nearly everything else in the Pedway – closed.  I decided I would probably get a better breakfast in either the Con Suite or the green room, so I headed for the con suite which was closer.  While they did not have the hot water and instant oatmeal that the green room had, I was able to cobble together a breakfast that, while not good, at least held me.  I helped set up the table and got it open and running, and then left about noon to go see Sy Libergot’s last talk (having missed all of the rest).  After his talk, which ran long, I headed back for the table, stopping in the Dealers’ room to buy two CDs from the Ropers: Seanan McGuire’s Wicked Girls (even though I have a digital copy thanks to the Hugo Award Voter’s packet), and one by the Ropers’ friend Erica Neely (who I’ll take on their recommendation).  I felt that I should actually buy a copy since I enjoy and plan to continue listening to Wicked Girls.  I was also able to talk to our 90% sure (now) artist Guest of Honor for Conjecture 2013 – to be announced at Conjecture 2012 (albeit earlier to the committee).

I returned to find Adam packing the table – a decision I agreed with.  So I helped him finish and we headed back up to our room to drop off the tote and the couple of bags that old all that we had down there, minus a few flyers we left behind and most or all of the small bit of remaining chocolate.

After that, we headed to closing ceremonies.  I ended up sitting near the front, but in the corner near the Chicago table – so quite a distance with poor sight lines from the Texas table.  This ment I had front row seats for the Chicago portion, but was distant from the San Antonio portion.  A glitch in uniting the sound systems in the two rooms aggravated the problem, and made the dialog in San Antonio’s video (a clever bit tying the nearby Chicago Riverwalk with the similarly named San Antonio Riverwalk, on which the convention center and both hotels lie).  In the ending credits, I noted three friend’s names – one who wasn’t at Chicon 7 and one who as near as I can tell has no other connection to Lone Star Con 3.

It was still fairly early when closing ended.  On the way back to my room, I stopped off at sales to members and picked up a denim shirt, which I will add to the rotation of similar shirts I wear in leu of sweaters much of the time, and a copy of the Art Showcase book.

I dropped my badge – or the replacement badge with a very long chain of ribbons (I think the longest I’ve collected), keeping the original badge with only one – and headed downstairs to see if my help was needed in load out.  It clearly wasn’t as everything was packed except The Chaos Machine, which seemed to have packing well in hand.  So I started doing some exploring of the Pedway, and then headed out into the streets of Chicago.  I headed down to State Street, and then cut back over to visit Millennium Park (for the first time, even though I lived in the area for 7 or 8 years after it was built) and then headed back to the hotel.  I stopped at Girodono’s for an early dinner.

After dinner, I knew I needed a walk, so I headed first down to the Riverwalk, and when it ended, I headed up to street level, across the river and eventually found myself at the south end of The Magnificent Mile.  So, I played tourist by walking up to the John Hancock Building and headed up to the observatory for a look at the Chicago evening.  After that, I headed back to the hotel, spent a bit of time in the Dead Dog Party (including backing Kevin S up in his honest and impassioned telling off of a fan who seemed to think that it wasn’t fair to the American (U.S.) fans who cannot go to Canada for a Canadian Worldcon.  As Kevin rightly pointed out, thanks to the Department of Homeland Insecurity, there are fans and authors who cannot come to a U.S. Worldcon because they have run afoul of DHS in some way or another; and may not even be able to come to other North American conventions for similar reasons.

I’ve enjoyed Chicon 7 immensely, and was glad to have some time to talk to several of my friends from my days in Chicago who don’t make it out of the area all that often.  I also spent time with my newer friends from other parts of the country (not just California or the West Coast), and am more torn than I was on Wednesday and Thursday about whether I should attend Lone Star Con 3 or not.  In the end, vacation, budgets and other commitments – largely to the Westercon bid will play their roles.