Thanksgiving at Loscon

Loscon this year felt less like a series of events following one after another in chronological order and more like distinct incidents connected mostly through a coincidence of persons or places. So, roughly in the order in which they happened, I present to you the events of my 2010 Thanksgiving holiday week, from the ride down to the train back.

The Rideshare: Found on Craigslist; one Rasta and his hella mellow companion dog Bella, fresh of a four-month hike off the Pacific Crest Trail. Chickpea sandwiches and a lot of reggae on the stereo.

Santa Monica: Blue skies and a walk on the beach for Thanksgiving Day. Margaritas and AbFab for the evening.

Bridging the Nerd Gap: Arriving in the hotel, I find Leo Schwab on his laptop in the lobby. Independently, Jason Schachat is also on his laptop in the lobby. The two are at different tables about 10 feet apart and have been so for at least an hour without noticing each other, bless their hearts.

The Friday Fan Editors Panel: It didn’t suck. Jason Schachat, Milt Stevens and myself plus an audience of about three or four people, but they’re lively and we get a good conversation going.

The Snuggies: Leigh Ann Hildebrand has procured Snuggies for the Life Day celebrations. Leo, Jason and I wear them down to dinner and get satisfyingly confused reactions from mundanes and fans alike. The moral; there is no activity so weird or nerdy that you can’t make it more so. By Sunday I am wearing the damned thing with no hint of irony and talking up its virtues to the skeptics, I am ashamed yet sincere. I think to myself: “This is how it starts.”

Life Day: Now the traditional way we celebrate the start of Loscon in the Fanzine Lounge PM, Life Day celebrations, start off on a low note, since Leigh Ann is down with food poisoning and therefore not her usual hostessy self. She joins the room for the screening of the Star Wars Holiday Special, we all wear our Snuggies and there is a little riffing and a little drinking of buttered eggnog. At some point I am running an errand and as I walk down the hallway, I pass a couple who has just checked out our room and continued on down the party hall. The woman leans into her companion and I am just in time to overhear her say sotto-voce, “I don’t know, they seemed a little culty?” I feel a weird sense of accomplishment. Finally, thank goodness, high-as-a-kite 1970s Carrie Fisher comes on the screen singing and clutching a Wookiee for dear life and then the horrid thing is over.

The Fainting Fan: Friday evening progresses normally for little while after the Special and then a young couple enters the room. They’re chatting away when suddenly the young lady collapses mid-sentence as though a switch has been thrown. It is so sudden that most of us later comment how for a second we thought it was staged. But it quickly becomes apparent it’s for real. She recovers consciousness almost immediately but seems disoriented. The next half hour or so involves finding someone to take a look at her. By the time that’s done Leigh Ann has retired to bed and I am ready for a wander.

The Ambush: I am kindly introduced to someone I have beef with. The subject of my beef is utterly unaware of said beef. Also, the person does not seem to remember meeting me on previous, beef-less, occasions. The whole thing is unintentionally yet hilariously awkward. Realizing the impossibility of addressing any of this I simply squirm and look for a graceful exit until Jason Schachat enters the room, assesses the situation, and rather than rescuing me, documents the happy occasion photographically.

The Incident: Eternal shame, profuse apology. I am owed a dollar in quarters for not writing this one up.

The ER: Sometime around midnight, Leigh Ann realizes she is feeling no better and is in fact running a temperature and has not been able to eat anything in over a day. Her insurance provider tells her to go into the ER and provides a list of preferred hospitals, which includes Beverly Hills. We are confused by how far away the recommendations are and when the concierge writes down the address of the nearest ER, 10 minutes away, we go with that instead. And thus it is that Jason and I spend the next six hours at the Inglewood Centinela Hospital Medical Center waiting room while Leo visits with Leigh Ann as they give her fluids and medicine. The staff is lovely, but the waiting room television is tuned to a Law & Order Dead Babies marathon. Should you find yourself in the same situation, I’d say go with Beverly Hills.

The Saturday SF and Public Perception Panel: Rowdy. The moderator is far too gentle on us, but does make sure the audience gets to speak. The optimists generally agree we have won and it’s awesome, the pessimists are of the opinion that the increased popularity of the genre has ruined it forever. It gets loud but remains civil, except they all gang up on me an awful lot, and I can’t stop swearing. I blame it on sleep deprivation and caffeine. Also on my now apparently pathological foul-mouthedness.

The Family Visit: I spend Thanksgiving with my sister, but two of my brothers also live in the area. One of them, Raul, works just a few blocks from the LAX Marriott and we’ve grabbed lunch in the past while I was at a con. I call him in Thursday and there is some mention of how we should totally hang out. He decides to cut through the usual tedious planning phase this year and as Jason and I try to find some post-panel food I find I have two text messages, one from 1:30 p.m. saying he is on his way over, and one from 2:00 p.m. saying he is at the hotel and where am I? I find him and run off to the Westin to have lunch, since the LAX Marriot’s delightfully eccentric restaurant hours mean the only onsite choice is Champions, which I loathe. When we get back, I give him a tour of the convention space and art show and he spots a piece of dragon art he thinks will make a nice gift for his boss, I explain the bidding process and that I will call him Sunday if his was the winning bid.

The 1 a.m. Scheme: There’s always one of these, isn’t there? It could be awesome, but really if it pans out, all I get out of it is more deadlines and the glory I guess. Which coincidentally, “Glory and Deadlines” is the name of my Rock Bottom Remainders tribute band.

Second Dawn: Happy shiny, holly jolly Fanzine Lounge goes well as far as I can tell. However, I am spending most of my time in John Hertz’s excellent party so Leigh Ann is mostly in charge of the Lounge. I eat, I drink, I am merry. I meet the bidder of a Utah Westercon and discuss doing a fanzine panel at Anime LA. Eventually, I see the dawn come up for a second day in a row but this time I am much happier about it.

The Undead Dog or The Family Visit Continues: On Sunday, I pick up my own remaining art and the dragon picture for my brother. I let him know and he arrives just in time for dinner. We grab a table with Leigh Ann, Leo, Jason and the Fanzine Lounge’s Own Wendy Newton, newly arrived from Japan. As we wrap up our meal, word floats down that there will be no Dead Dog party this year (a first, to my knowledge). So the Lounge is to be the last man standing. I fuss and worry this will mean too many people in our room, but most folks seem to have headed off when they heard about Dead Dog. A few folks wander in for a few minutes before taking off, including Christian Maguire, Joyce Hooper and some other staff; but the evening consists mainly of the Lounge crew, my brother, John Hertz, and two or three other stalwarts. The discussion turns to theology (as it seems to in the Lounge, for some reason) and there is loud but luckily never quite violent, debate and argument till about 3:00 a.m. when we pack it in.

The Train Ride Home: I am mostly unconscious for this.

SF/SF Issue #112 December 29, 2010