Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Another fun-packed day in Reno

Up early, did some online housekeeping. Took the bus downtown, bought a 7-day pass for $21, which will pay for itself in one more trip. Walked over to Amtrak, waited for 20 minutes for an attendant to appear, changed my ticket from Monday to Sunday after seeing the sign on the window that due to washed out tracks somewhere east, the return trip was running 4-8 hours late till further notice. Today's train was due to leave at 3 pm, for a 10 pm arrival at Emeryville. This means I don't have to rush to leave the con, and will have time to collect my photos and pack Sunday.

Went to Harrah's Hash House A-go-go for breakfast. Got the truck driver special which I was going to order a second pancake for, but the waiter said the pancake is 12" across. And it was. And 1/4" thick or more. I managed half of it. It came with two eggs and two strips of bacon, which was some kind of glazed bacon, too chewy for my taste but I survived.

Bus back to the convention center, already late for the 11 o'clock panel on the problem of Fermi's Paradox. The paradox being that with predictions of billions of worlds in the galaxy with possible life forms, why have we not seen any space aliens? The panel called on several audience members who were better known than the panelists for work in this field. The gist of it was that the galaxy is so old, and we are on such a far outskirt, that any life elsewhere already came and went, probably before the earth cooled.

From there to Beginning Makeup Effects, aimed at masquerade participants, taught by someone who tests and sells the stuff for a living. For the most part excellent, though there were a couple of nits I would have picked. Good sized room, needed twice as many chairs.

Ducked out of that early to get a front-row seat at the George R.R. Martin reading. Mr. Martin is a delightful person, his intro was humorous and light and he gave the audience a choice between two chapters in a book in progress, since there was not time for both. It was almost unanimous. I may be the only one in the crowd who had not read any of his books. He read well, but it's a genre I am not at all interested in. I don't think I'd call it fantasy, it is more along the lines of straight fiction set in a world similar to medieval Europe. I did not hear any magic or such in the passage he read, though perhaps there is some in the rest of the book. He took questions from the audience, but they were all about characters I know nothing of. The place was packed, and it was one of the largest halls.

A panel on Science Fiction and Gender was in the 2 pm slot, and while all the panelists were articulate, only one was really invested in the subject. The moderator kind of was, but she didn't say much. I would have liked to see more gay authors on the panel.

Next up was Mary Robinette Kowal's reading, which I have been looking forward to a lot since meeting her at BASFA and reading her Hugo-nominated short story. She started with a shadowbox puppet show. Her day job is as a puppeteer. Excellent stuff. Then she gave us a choice between a piece from a published work or from one in progress. We took the in progress one, and it was fascinating. What if a black actress uses magic powder to appear to be pale white? And the powder only lasts a couple of hours? And can be defeated by splashing water on it? Neat stuff, superbly written and entertainingly read. Too bad it was only a half-hour slot.

4PM was Trailer Park time. The host was a reviewer, instead of the usual studio PR person. AV crew made a total hash of their job, we started 15 minutes late despite them having half an hour prior to set up. Come on people, it isn't rocket science to play an MP4 file full screen to a projector from a standard personal computer. With audio. Without French subtitles. None of the trailers really grabbed me, but I know I won't be seeing Apollo 18, The Thing, Conan re-make, or any of the horror films.

Decided to bail for dinner. Went to the Purple Parrot cafe, since breakfast the other day had been so good. The service was fast, but unthinking. I needed to answer email from Moto on my phone, and my salad sat untouched for about 5 minutes. Waitress brought the pot roast while I was still typing. She did not offer to keep it warm till I finished my salad. By the time I got to it it was a bit dried out, and got more so as I ate. The rice was sucky dirty brown short grain crap, and the cooked veggies were almost the complete list of the ones I can't stand. Brussels sprouts would have completed the set. When I ordered I told her I'd definitely be having dessert, but she never came back to take my order. So no tip this time.

It did not help my mood that when I took my Kindle out to finish reading Troika, the screen was munged. Looks like it got bent. Didn't crack, but only the bottom line of text displays. It's under warranty, but that won't help me this week. I'll go to Best Buy and get a replacement tomorrow, and sell it on eBay when the warranty replacement arrives.

Back to the con, half an hour to spare before Meet The Artists. I hung around the Fanzine Lounge, which is in a singularly crappy location in no man's land between the huge hall entry and the dealer's room/art show. Horrible horrible use of space, that room.

At about 7:30 lemmozine showed up, I showed him my photo display and gave some info, and did the same for a couple of other people who came to look, including didjiman, who has some outstanding B&W prints for sale on the other side of the show. A little after 8 I drifted over to the filk jam, which looked like a knitting circle with only one active filker. So Plan B, the Liar's Panel. Way too small a space for this event. SRO. This con is cursed with fans on edge. Most people take the aisle seats first, effectively blocking access to the center seats. Even after they are asked to move toward center to let latecomers sit. There were about 10 seats I simply could not get to, which I could see from my spot leaning against the wall. Hillarious panel, but it was more a Smartass Panel than Liars.

That did it for me for now. I'm back in the room, tested the plumbing, went online to see where Best Buy is (it's on the same street as the hotel, easy access by bus), and confirm my Kindle is under warranty. I went back to the Motorola new hire sign-in site with all new Norton security settings (removed a pile of them) and discovered that there were a dozen more forms to read and digitally sign, and then accept the offer online, and submit the whole thing. It still would not let me enter work history on the basic info page, but they have that in their files already. It was way too much BS, and I'm done.

So there you have it. I will probably hit the party floors soon, and maybe I'll try a banana split at the cafe as well. This has not been a good con for free food.

Tags: basfa, cons, photography

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