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July 5th, 2013

The Irony Is

I moderated the panel on The Care And feeding of Performers with my tummy grumbling because I had another panel just before it and no chance to eat lunch. And then Match Game SF half an hour after that. So I bailed on the opening ceremonies/meet the guests and drove out to the mall and had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.

As I was eating dessert there was a lot of banging going on and I was about to complain to the waitress until I saw the fireworks through the window behind the bar. I took half the cheesecake to go, and went outside and watched from the sidewalk, kind of through trees but they only hid the low stuff, so I saw enough. went to the car after, mostly to get away from all the smoke, turned on the engine and air conditioning for a bit, but after 5 minutes it was clear that there was no way I was leaving any time soon the way the traffic was. Sacto drivers have no consideration at all, cutting each other off and making a huge mess blocking intersections and making intersections that aren't there. The mall had a minimal amount of traffic minions, and they were stationed ineffectively.

As I was waiting (turned off the engine, rolled down the windows, took out the Kindle) I saw what looked like a designated area for people to shoot off their own fireworks, and it was strategically located near the Arco station.

I was there for an hour. Still a lot of traffic when I left, but mostly sane. On the way back to the hotel there were two other fireworks displays going on not too far away. went up to the party floor 12) but none of the parties on that side of the building were paying any attention to the fireworks, most of them had that window blocked.

So I went downstairs and caught the last 1.5 episodes of MST3K with voiceover done by two of the guys who were on the comedy panel, who do a Dr. Who podcast. The episodes were Dr. Who, Sylvester.

Back to the 12th floor in search of hydration and munchies, but there was not much by then.

And then the power went out.

The whole hotel was blacked out, it was half an hour before emergency lights came on. About another half hour and lights came on again. It was fun, except for three or four people who thought turning on a flashlight was a good idea. I found a party  which had a battery-lit lemonade dispenser which was dispensing sangria. Very pretty.


Found another party which had opened its balcony doors, I joined folks out there and we watched two or three fireworks which were still going on at about midnight. Professional grade stuff.

Back to the beginning. Got my butt out of bed and dressed and downstairs for breakfast by 9:30, pancakes & bacon & berries. No panels till 3:15, so I went to the dealer's room and picked out some earrings from Springtime Creations, dinogrl's emporium. There was a bit of a challenge to get the credit card reader set up, but it worked and I got the confirmation email right away. Walked around the dealer's room but there wasn't anything else I was interested in. Back in the lobby my phone rang, unknown number for I didn't answer. Called th voicemail and it was Discover card, that last transaction triggered a fraud alert. So bogus because I used the physical card. I called back, told the robot the last 3 transactions were real, and it said okay and let me go.

Next, the art show. Total FAIL. More than total. It needed three times the space, and a very different layout. The way it was set up there were three rows of paneling, each starting at the door and dead ending into the far wall. Once you got to the wall you had no way out except the way you came, and that was too narrow for someone to be looking at a picture and for anyone to get past. Lighting was terrible - poorly placed mini spotlights, clipped to the panels at acute angles. I am so glad i did not participate in this show.

Then 3:00 I worked my way to the cleverly hidden Folsom Room for the panel Comedy in SF - aka the David Gerrold Show. He is a long-time Star Trek staffer, he wrote the script for The Trouble with Tribbles. Very articulate and entertaining panelist, also the Guest of Honor. I was sitting next to him, and lots of people were taking pictures of him so i suppose there will be one or three popping up which include my 15 nanseconds of fame. I didn't contribute that much, but did get in some good lines. That was an SRO crowd.

Then off to the other side of the hotel for a panel I was moderating The Care and Feeding of Performers. There was one no-show, but fortunately figmo had agreed to join the panel when I asked earlier in the week, and the three of us were barely outnumbered by the audience (I counted 10 at the peak). Storyteller Todd Gallowglas was the third, he had lots of amusing anecdotes.

Just enough time to buy a K protein bar and mounds candy, which I scarfed down in the ballroom aka Atrium, where Match game SF was happening at 6. I was one of the panelists. It was a lot of fun, though i only matched the contestants once. Lots of laughs, and lots of audience joy. Wish I was also on the R-rated panel Saturday, but I'll at least be in the audience.

Plans for tomorrow:
Sleep in 'cause it's about 2 am now
My first panel is at 3 pm but there are others I want to see, including mettemu's Making Molded Pieces.

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Only Two Panels

I slept in, but not too in because at 11:15 I wanted to be at mettemu's and Bryan's mold making demo. As usual it was informative, fun and a study in improv. I took many pictures with my real camera which I'll upload when I get home.

I had a late lunch at the hotel eatery, the menu was on Xerox paper with a Westercon logo, and was very limited. I had a Cobb Salad which probably would have arrived sooner if they had not taken the time to make the chicken disgustingly lukewarm.

I wasted time in the lobby and in my room and the green room and then went to the Folsom room, which is the largest of the panel rooms, to catch the end of the Dr. who podcast. Two of the three podcasters were on the Comedy in SF panel with me yesterday. It was entertaining.

In the same room next was a panel I was on, johnnyeponymous moderated, and also included Ctien, David Gerrolds and the lovely Rebecca Inch-Partridge, called A Single If...

Chris took suggestions from the audience, and we discussed them, I mostly provided comic relief and bad puns. It was fun.

I killed time for an hour, then moderated the panel on Exomusicology. I was afraid we would run out of things to talk about but with a great set of panelists and very participatory audience we ran out of time. Cliff Winnig, Frederick J. Mayer, J.E. Ellis and Lynn Gold were the panel. It was a full room and only one person left early.

6 pm, time for dinner. I figured if I was lucky I would be back by 8 or so and catch the two featured bands. But this happened:

I went to a place named Bandera, which Google and Yelp both recommended for steak. It is about a 10 minute drive from the hotel.

It was a 35-minute wait to be seated. The place is pitch dark and extremely loud. People shouting over people shouting over people shouting over... I almost turned around and walked out. After my drink order was taken I was forgotten for about 15 minutes.

I had the prime rib, which was huge and delicious, and came with a nondescript lump of mashed potatoes, a generous cup of au jus and a tiny cup of excellent horseradish sauce. For the diet Coke, they brought the can, $3 for a 25-cent item. They charged for each can. I also ordered the roasted peanut cole slaw as an appetizer but they brought it with the main course. It was peanuts mixed into shredded purple and green cabbage topped with Italian vinaigrette, with too much pepper. Not my idea of cole slaw.

Nobody checked on me for about an hour.

The much-touted banana cream pie was all display (whipped cream, banana chunks) and not much pie.

The bill came with dessert. I put my Discover card down, face-up, easy to see what it was. A server took it, then brought it back saying they don't take Discover, and walked away. I put down an American Express card and waited another 5+ minutes for someone to collect it. The check came back pretty quickly.

The prime rib was great, but not good enough to ever go back there. The service was so slow I barely managed to justify a 10% tip.

Back to the hotel. By now it is 9:45. I listened to the Phenomenauts for 3 minutes, but ran screaming from the over-modulated distorted) audio and mush-mouthed singers. It hurt.

But that meant I was able to write this at a reasonable hour, and will get to bed likewise. No parties for me tonight, the rooms are too small and they are mostly aimed at drinkers.

Which reminds me of something incredibly rude which happened last night. Shortly after the lights went out I poked my head into each party room to see if it had a view of the fireworks. At the Casino Royale room, a woman in a purple dress blocked my way, and said they were no longer serving drinks. As if the only reason anyone would want to be in the gambling room would be to drink. On my next pass about 15 minutes later, she had blocked the doorway with two chairs. Horribly rude. I won't be going back there.

Plans for tomorrow:

If I am lucky and wake up early enough, the 10 am panel "Where is my Tricorder?" is on. I know where it is. My cousin Harvey has a patent on it.

11:15 I'm on a panel about storytelling, which I probably shouldn't be on because that's not something I do. I can be comic relief.

12:30 I'm on a panel I should be on - how to choose a book - read page 119?

4:15, I'm moderating  a panel I shouldn't be on, Finding Your Muse. The good news is everyone else on the panel will probably have a lot to say on the subject

Masquerade is at 8 pm, followed by Match game R-Rated which I am not on the panel but will volunteer to be a contestant because Lisa said I should.

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