Tag Archives: art

Arts and crafts

So the good news I hinted at came through, but then I got so busy I forgot to post; I have an exhibition at the local bookstore through March 28th. The opening was yesterday, and while it didn’t exactly get crowded it was a fun time with a bunch of friends and a few strangers who were kind enough to buy some of the art, can’t ask for much more than that.

On the crafts front, there’s a local antiques/crafts place that has opened a new location in town and I’ve secured a little shelf there. The timing was tricky because of the above, but I got enough stuff put together to get a start and am really looking forward to doing more crafts.

So, a very busy February, not even counting my actual day job, which has been a bit chaotic as all the cruise lines are changing itineraries and cancelling cruises outright.

And now it’s my birthday month, with several weekend visitors planned through the month and we’ve even had several hours of sunshine.

Taste of con

Last weekend we went to the SciFi Ball for the day on Saturday. It’s a local convention which is almost the reverse of what I’m used to in some ways, with the big focus being on the evening events (hence the name) and cheap day tickets to just hit the panels and dealer’s room. While I am all about the nightlife, the evening ticket price was too steep for me at $145 so we just went for the afternoon on Saturday. Just walking into a hotel full of nerds makes me feel good, and there was a fair bit of cosplay, a couple of Daleks running around and a pretty good selection of dealers.

Highlights; both talks we attended were good, the first was an interview with Dr. David Doak, who helped create Goldeneye, among other things. The second was the headliner, Marina Sirtis, who just roamed the stake taking questions and telling jokes and anecdotes. She is a very fun presence and it was worth the price of admission. I also picked up a lovely Good Omens linocut from Brambledown Designs.

Afterwards we went to Forbidden Planet, John found two excellent Dave Kyle illustrated history of science fiction books at a charity shop, we had dinner at the Black Phoenix, and finally went home to watch For All Mankind. An excellent nerdy Saturday.

Beyond the Brotherhood

So far 2020 has been chock full of culture for us, we’ve fitted in two museum visits and a movie trip and the month is not over yet.

First Saturday of January we took the train into the New Forest to see an exhibit at the St. Barbe Museum and Gallery in Lymington. The idea behind the exhibition was what would Romantic art look like today, and while it was a mixed bag there were artists and pieces I liked a great deal. Primarily we were there to see a big intricate piece by local Southampton artist Greg Gilbert, who we first found at the local museum here. We also had breakfast at Hoxton, visited every single charity shop (I found a Hario Jumping Leaf teapot), and had a lovely lunch at Lemana.

The next weekend John’s parents visited and was beer, Costco, and boardgames mostly. They kindly brought the things we hadn’t wanted to lug home after Xmas, so I now have a light box and a paper trimmer, amongst other things. Oh, and a hammer drill!

Finally las weekend we went to our local Southampton City Gallery for an exhibition called Beyond the Brotherhood: The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy, which is basically what it says on the tin. It had a wonderful range; the first section includes a wide range of pieces and types of art, from big familiar pieces to illustrations, sketches, and ceramics. I was delighted to see ‘Vanity’ by Frank Cadogan Cowper, which is just beautiful up close. The exhibitions then goes on to show the legacy in later art and illustration, up to and including recent and contemporary fantasy art, including Brian Froud and Alan Lee. It wraps up at the end of the month here but then moves on to the Russell-Cotes Gallery in Bournemouth, whose collection is the source of a lot of the major pieces in the exhibit.

All that, and we even made it to the movies for once, to see Jojo Rabbit, which I really loved. I expected the humour, but not the emotional depth necessarily, or not on that level. I basically cried nonstop the last ten minutes. Waititi is doing his own things, but there was a lot of Vonnegut in there, and not a little Dr. Strangelove… it also made me want to watch the original version of To Be or Not to Be. I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while.

Treats, mostly

Hot damn, it’s almost Halloween! (Guess who forgot to post her draft!?)

Inktober got rudely shoved aside so I could get art ready for World Fantasy. John helpfully worked around me as I buckled down and spent most of the month working on that, and I’m reasonably happy with the results. Next up is Novacon, which I’ll do regular 2D pieces for, as much for the variety as for the feeling that November isn’t really folding fan season.

We managed to get some fun in before and after I disappeared into all-fans-all-the-time; firstly we went up to Bristol to visit John’s friend Tony for the weekend. It was a nice weekend, a bit rainy but not too bad, and we played some boardgames in between exploring the city. We started off strong with a  burger at Three Brothers Burgers and a wander through the market, then went up to the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, which has my second favourite version of La Belle Dame Sans Merci, by Frank Dicksee. There is a bunch of other cool stuff there, ranging from local history (lots of lovely glass) to an Ai Wei Wei piece. On the Sunday we had breakfast at a place called Boston Tea Party, which for some reason really reminded me of the places I used to get breakfast back in the nineties in Lower Haight. We did some more wandering and saw the statue to Cary Grant, a Banksy, and the waterfront.

The next two weeks are a fugue of course, but then I packed up the box to ship off and I was free! And just in time too, because it was Tobes visit weekend. His plane was delayed, but finally arrived late morning. We fed him some espresso and then started an epic beer crawl through Southampton. We aimed for Unity to start but it was raining and there are two pubs on the way, so we stopped at the South Western and the Junction Inn before braving the walk along the river to get to Unity. The last bit was a bit muddy but we managed it and rewarded ourselves with pork bao buns from the Demaine Artisan food truck outside, plus of course beer. Out next stop was across the Itchen for a half pint at Paddle and Peel, followed by one last drink at the Butcher’s Hook before going home to dry our socks, have a coffee, and catch the train to Woolston where we crammed into Olaf’s Tun and ordered pizzas from Spitfire up the street.  

All of which was a prelude to the Woolston Craft Beer Festival! We didn’t know what to expect, Woolston is not large and it was in the local hall. But it was well supplied and busy, and we had a lovely few hours happily trying out beers, plus Bark and Brisket were there serving food so we had a late dinner of pork baps.

Inktober

The second half of September had two Coxon family visits in a row.; first George and Kathryn came down for a brief visit which involved pizza and beer and Into the Spider-Verse. The following weekend John’s parents came to visit, met the cats, and were kind enough to take us to IKEA not once but twice.

As a result I have a corner desk and a kallax unit and my habitat is a bit more unfucked than it was. It’s almost, dare I say it… nice? I thought the storage would be the best part but honestly I didn’t even know how much I really needed a new desk.

Now John is off on his annual trip to the wilds of someplace or other (Herefordshire? Surely not, that sounds made up) and I am trying to hunker down and focus on getting fans done for World Fantasy. On the plus side I am getting extra cat time, which is nice.

And then there’s inktober, which I’m participating in for the first time at least partly as an effort to not spend my weekday lunches at my desk. It’s only sort of working so far, but it’s early days so we’ll see. I am enjoying how the prompts are deceptive, the easy looking ones turn out to be the absolute worst.

Worldcon 2019 in Dublin

Waking at the crack of dawn got us into Dublin city centre by nine-thirty am on Wednesday August 14th. Too early to check into our AirBnB but a fine time for a hearty breakfast at The Bakehouse, right by the Ha’penny Bridge, and a wander through Temple Bar with a quick stop at Forbidden Planet and a look in at Gamers World. At eleven we collected the keys and dragged our suitcases up three flights of stairs. It was bracing, and even less fun at the tipsy end a long con day, but otherwise the place was fine – roughly a half hour walk to the Convention Centre Dublin, or a fifteen minute tram ride on the LUAS red line.

It was too early to get much done convention-wise, so we unpacked, had a lovely ninety minute nap, popped over to Tesco for coffee, milk, and emergency snacks, and finally headed over to the CCD to get out badges. We had the first of many donuts along the way, ridiculously rich confections from Rolling Donut, which basically substituted for lunch. We got our badges, and John also got snazzy Hugo Finalist (and guest) ribbons. The CCD foyer has benches along the sides which were a perfect vantage point to sit a minute and let the world come to you. Which we did, and the world did, in the form of multiple Bay Area folks including Chris Garcia and Vanessa Applegate, and the inimitable Chuck Serface.

Before we knew it it was 6:00 p.m., time for the Martin Hoare Memorial Pub Crawl. The first stop was a nearby pub called the Brew Dock, conveniently located and offering members a 10% discount. It was wall to wall fen when we got there. Despite the crowding we got to chat to Tobes for a bit, and Nelly Petrov, and at 19:15 we raised a glass to Martin’s memory. After a couple of drinks there we met up with Christopher J. Garcia and Vanessa Applegate and popped over to Temple Bar for an Indian meal at Sitar, followed by one last pint at the first not too tacky looking bar we could find on the way back. Then John and I got a relatively sensible early bed, a feat that would not be repeated.

Thursday as the first day of the con proper. We had a comparatively healthy breakfast at Panem, with spinach and everything! John ran off to do a panel while I walked the extra fifteen minutes to Warehouse One in Point Square, home of the Art Show. When I got there I was a little taken aback, the Odeon building was pretty much entirely, and there was almost no signage so itt was difficult to figure out if you were even in the right place. I was pretty bummed about it at the time, but on subsequent visits it became obvious that there was a fair amount of traffic after all. Nowhere close to the crowds at the CCD but there were folks going to panels and queues to register for various bits of programming, so it wasn’t quite the wasteland I had feared. Still, this year had no Artist GOH (three Featured Artists, to be fair), no art show booklet, no docent tours, and even now there isn’t a list of participating artists on the website. The art show staff were fantastic and ran one of the smoothest art shows I’ve participated in, they had good equipment and lighting, and the art on display was wonderful – but as a segment of overall programming it felt second tier this year.

After I finished hanging my fans, John joined me for a walk through of the excellent art on display this year. I bid on a Sara Felix piece but didn’t win, and we gazed wistfully at many other beautiful things. I should have taken notes at the time, since I can’t remember the names to go with many of the wonderful pieces I saw, hopefully once the convention posts the list of artists on their website I will be able to find them again. A few of the stand outs included two beautiful hand painted shawls, Didier Cottier’s cyberpunk mixed media pieces, the aforementioned Sara Felix, and Sana Takeda‘s prints.

Besides the art show and print shop, Warehouse One was also housed several cool displays and craft items. There were half a dozen large scale lego constructions, including a massive Star Wars one by James Shields, a Community Drawing Wall, and a wall of art by Irish artist, including some Steve Dillon comic pages and Ian Clark’s wonderful Dublin 2019 artworks. There was programming in the Odean movie theatre screen rooms, and next door at the Gibson hotel, and some of it looked quite good. But ultimately when deciding what to see I factored in the walk there and back, and unless there were two items one after another there just didn’t seem worth it – by the end I attended no programming at Point Square excepting the art show and artist reception. In retrospect the 7-day LUAS transit pass would have been a good idea, but we didn’t see that option in time.

Opening ceremonies was in the main CCD auditorium, and therefore a wristband event which we didn’t have the time/energy to queue for. Instead I popped into town, nominally to look for shoes for Hugo night. I did regret that a bit when we learned that Alice Lawson received a well deserved Big Heart award, while Bradford Lyau taking the Sam Moskowitz Archive Award, but I had a nice time wandering Temple Bar and beyond; vintage clothing, boutiques, murals and street art, and eventually resting my feet with a cheese toastie. When I got back John was stuck in the Mark Protection Committee meeting, poor thing, so I had a wander around the CCD to see what was what. I found the Fan Lounge, which was frankly less an lounge and more a handful of tables, and eventually ended up in the social heart of the con; Martin’s Bar. I found part of Team Journey Planet there, and had a nice chat with Vanessa about art and iPads until my next panel attempt. Martin’s was also where the flyer and freebie table was located as well, which I understand but probably should have been duplicated in the Dealer’s area where the fan tables where since I suspect a lot of the membership never thought to go to the bar.

Line management at this juncture was a bit chaotic, panels quickly filling up and no obvious queueing order, things were a bit shouty and stressful. Happily, the convention took note and by the next day there was a system in place, including volunteers supporting the CCD staff, people with clipboards of the programme grid for the day proactively directing folks, and taped out sections on the floor marking the queue for each room. There was also a Line Management Cyborg deployed to the Liffey Level, who quite rightly received a Hero of the Con award. The newsletter did a pretty good job with updates, tips, and relevant information.

For dinner we met up with Tobes and headed to Temple Bar to for a tasty burger at Bunsen, bookended with pints at Porterhouse and Underdog respectively. Then it was back to the CCD to check out the parties. The party floor was in the Wicklow floor panel rooms, and were somewhere between your traditional Worldcon party held in a hotel room and the London model of shared convention space. Separate rooms helped them feel distinct, but the rules of the venue meant limited drinks available and no decor permitted on the walls. Mostly they managed pretty well within these constraints, and it had the general vibe of a party floor to me. The Japan party was full most of the evening, and we investigated China and Nice, but spent most of the night in the DC in 2021 bid party room, which had red ale and stout and good conversation.

Friday we had breakfast at Dollards, a deli/restraurant/late night pizza joint which in retrospect may have been the best thing we found on our visit. Both of us went to the ten am (whhhyyy?) panel Apollo at 50, which had astronaut Jeanette Epps, Mary Robinette Kowal, Geoffrey A. Landis, and David Stephenson and was pretty good. At noon I went to 2019 in Film which veered almost immediately into a general discussion of dystopia, so I cut my losses. For lunch I went over to the Broadway New York Eatery, which should have been terrible based on the name/theme but was a pretty solid Italian American style diner experience, and quite reasonable to boot. Meatball sandwhich. I joined John for the last bit of a panel about tie in novels, which seemed enjoyable.

The artist reception was on at 17:30 in Warehouse Two, beside the art show. I guess it was sensible not to be around the art (though galleries manage) but I missed being able to wander the show and chat with folks about it while sipping wine. Still we had a nice chat with Meg Frank, Jo, wine and popcorn, fancy nuts. Ran into Sean and Tempest, whom we only saw for a brief second over the course of the weekend, Worldcons are funny that way. For dinner we joined Anna, Hogg, Emily, and Andrew for a meal at a place called Captain America’s. It’s an odd place, the decor is about 10% Captain America and 90% music memorabilia, the highlight of the latter being a plaque outside declaring that Chris De Burgh played piano there after leaving college. Friday’s parties were DC, Nice, Japan, and China, along with a private party at the end of the hall a book launch, I think. DC had more beer, and China had sweets and shiny panda pins, Japan was was packed and we didn’t actually make it inside.

Saturday’s first panel was at 11am, still too early, but doable. Titled Artemis: Apollo’s Big Sister, it started pretty general but got interesting in the second half as things got more specific about the plan to get humans back on the moon in 2024, and use that to go on to Mars. There was a lot of overlap with the previous day’s Apollo panel. Afterwards John went off to his panels and I found myself accidentally adjacent to some Journey Planet plotting, which I barely escaped with my wits intact. I queued for Masquerade wristbands, then found John for a quick lunch at BNYE before the Fan Funds Auction, which I was late to. It did well this year, with some nice bits of fannish ephemera going for tidy sums. I got outbid on some Star Wars swag for John, but snagged him a Lucasfilm baseball cap.

The Masquerade started on time and ran smoothly, with Ric Bretschneider serving as MC. The overall quality of the entries was very good. Some standouts in no particular order; Captain Marvel and Skrulls had a skit had very good costumes and a solid skit with a funny ending, likewise Raven and Reaper gals, two sketches that used light effects were at almost at opposite ends of the spectrum, the charming Twinkle Twinkle and the dramatic Best in Show winner, From the Dark – a stunning glow in the dark kelpie – though that last one almost gave us a collective heart attack when it came close to walking right off the edge of the stage.

We watched Mary Robinette Kowal absolutely smash Powerpoint Karaoke while the judges deliberated, and Chris Garcia do a more than passable job himself. But the party floor called to us, so we left before the judges returned. The parties were New Zealand, Memphis, Chicago, and Glasgow – all of which were jumpin’, but I spent most of my time in the Scalzi Dance Across the Decades, which was simultaneously too hot, to packed, and in far too small a room, and damned near perfect. Eventually they kicked us out, so I found John and we got some pizza at Dollard’s on the way back to the flat.

Sunday we got up late and took it nice and easy, starting with a full Irish at Panem, it was tasty but strangely came with friend banana. I had a wander through the Exhibits area and creator’s alley, the former had a cool Brazilian art display, and introduced me to the term AmazoFuturism display which was pretty awesome. An art credit had been added to the wonderful Cartoon Saloon Brian Boru banners, I had been baffled by the lack of credit the day before. I ran into Rina Weisman at the Tachyon table and it was nice to catch up a bit. Finally at 2pm John and I went up to the panel entitled The Golden Age of Animated SF, which was nominally about the fact that we are in such an age but spent the first twenty minutes on such topics as “what is animation” and “what is genre, does it even exist” so I ducked back out.

The big event of the evening was the Hugo ceremony, and of course John was nominated as part of Team Journey Planet, so I headed back to the flat a bit early so I’d have plenty of time to get changed. Of course John had the key to the AirBnB so that was no use to anyone, I sat and had coffee until he arrived and we both got into out evening duds.

The reception was fun, with an open bar and very nice snacks, It was also just nice as a party, getting to chat with folks I might not have managed to run into over the weekend. TJP and associated guests had a table to ourselves basically, I suspect it’s actually a pretty good way to experience the event. Chris and Vanessa, Chuck, Alissa and Andrew, and Alissa’s dad – who was fun to chat with, we chatted and snacked and admired the outfits – I have to say in the past decade or so fandom has really upped it’s red carpet game. Jeanette Ng had a peacock fascinator whose tail could open and close, the multi-talended Sara Felix looked stunning in an amazing space age dress she painted herself, Vanessa had made a beautiful headress which I lusted after in my heart, etc. Of the people I didn’t know I especially remember a fantastic zipper dress and a fantastic metal crown. It was all fabulous and extra, and Garcia even wore a jacket!

The ceremony itself was good, not too long, though not quite Picacio-on-rails. Afua Richardson was a charming and heartfelt presence, she had several costume changes, each more stunning than the one before – I loved the silver outfit especially. Turns out she can also sing beautifully on top of everything else. Michael Scott was an affable but professional presence, smooth but equally charming in his own way. The speeches ranged from heartfelt, to impassioned, to light and funny, and I agreed with the voters in most categories. Except maybe Fanzine, but I’m biased there.

We left the auditorium and boarded a bus in front of the CCD to head over to the Guinness Storehouse for the Hugo Losers party. We were among the first to arrive and were greeted with trays of something called a Black Velvet, which was prosecco and stout in a champagne flute. Then we were treated to an energetic drummer, followed by Irish dancing, and then Irish music for the rest of the evening. Which was fine, if not quite my cup of tea. Some folks enjoyed it immensely, and at least one grumbled continuously. The food was very good though, with a couple of hearty stews, a hot dog and carnitas roll stand among other threats.

I chatted with some folks I had missed earlier, the place filled out but was far from packed so it was surprising to hear people queuing outside had not been let in due to the venue being at capacity. Someone pointed out that in previous years we were on the ground floor so the fire marshal rules were probably different. There was a speech by GRRM, which fun but a bit dismissive of the problem, I wonder if the habit of hosting something close to the convention centre – where people have the option of just popping next door to the next party or evening event made it less obvious how inconvenient the situation actually was. We headed out early, and by then there was no one waiting outside, and took a taxi to get pizza with Dave O’Neill, Dollard’s betrayed us by being closed, so we went to the place across the street, which was more New York style. As we were chatting and eating our slices we froze in our seats when a bouncer walked up to Dave and asked “Where are you from?”. Dave launched into an explanation of his relative Irish/British/American-ness, but turns out the guy just had some dollar bills he figured would be more useful to an American.

And then it was Monday, the last day of the convention. We joined Anna, Hogg, Emily, and Andrew for a delicious and cheap breakfast at Loving Spoon. It was also pretty massive so the walk back did us good, the gang got more donuts on the way back but I was pretty replete. John and I headed to a The Good Place panel, it consisted mostly of everyone being happy that the show exists, which was perfect. John’s was on a Star Wars pane afterwards which was a fun and lighthearted way to end the con. We skipped closing ceremonies and wandered the dealers one last time, where I ran into Nicholas Jackson for a bit, and then Tom Becker who I had managed to miss all week!

For our last dinner in Dublin we met up with Tobes, Dave Oneill and his brother at the Brew Dock, which turned out to have very good food, and then all that was left was the Dead Dog. I got to chat with Bay Area folks, a few of whom I hadn’t really had a chance to see over the weekend, which was good. Then I suddenly realized that in my excitement at having sold all my art I forgot that there were some unsold TAFF pieces to pick up! After a bit of running around that got resolved and I ended up with some groats to boot, so I had a beer anda fun chat with someone who was at their first convention and trying to get a handle on fandom as a concept. I started fading a bit and was advised to fix it with another beer, but turns out a gin and tonic was exactly what I needed! We attempted to convince Liz into running a Thai Wordlcon, she refused our £20 but muttered about having to build a local convention fandom first, which isn’t a no so you heard it first here folks. Eventually it was midnight so we said our last round of goodbyes, got lesser pizza on the way home and collapsed in an exhausted but happy heap.

Novacon 47

his was my first Novacon, and I didn’t really know what to expect. John had warned me it was small with a single track of programming, and it was that, but it was also well designed for the space it occupies so despite being around 200 people it never felt constricted or claustrophobic.

The Park Inn has seen better days but still manages to be friendly and comfortable, and has the advantage of being on a street with multiple pubs and restaurants in reasonable walking distance for most folks. I didn’t get to see a lot of Nottingham on this trip but there are some gaming and comics shops also a short distance away and the city looked worth adding a day to next year’s trip for some exploration.

We arrived at around 4:30pm, a couple of hours before Opening Ceremonies. This gave us time to unpack and hang art, John had brought TAFF donated art and I had some new flat pieces as well as a few folding fans. The show was larger than I expected for the convention size and I ended up selling a fan and two pieces, so that was a pleasant surprise.

One of the advantages of a smaller event is you get to actually spend time with just about everyone you want to. By the evening I had at least said hello to everyone I already knew who was there, but as I am still a newcomer to local fandom there were plenty of folks to meet for the first time, or to have my first proper conversation with.

John and I braved the cold to get supplies from the Co-op down the street, then enjoyed some wine at the book launch party for Dogs of War, the new book by GOH Adrian Taichovsky. We stood around, chatted, and drank wine until we got peckish, then popped down the street to a place called The Cod’s Scallops. It’s a very cute upmarket fish & chips place decorated in a retro English seaside resort theme, all striped cushions and saucy postcards. They had a table service section but the prices are higher there so we chose to head back to the hotel with a ridiculous amount of battered fish (monkfish for me, seabass for John), a huge portion of chips, plus some extras like scallops, cockles, and fried black pudding. Our little hotel room smelled of fish for the rest of the night but it was worth it and we were well fortified for the ensuing night of drinking.

We chatted with the usual suspects in the bar till around eleven thirty when we started to fade and seriously considered going up to bed, but we ran into Jo Playford who helped us rally a bit longer so we eventually got to bed at a sensible but not embarrassing hour with our dignity intact.

Our first hotel breakfast on Saturday was pretty good despite truly terrible coffee, bad enough I didn’t finish my first cup. Like many hotels the Park Inn has installed those little coffee machines that produce bad coffee and do it slowly, inconveniencing both the customers who have to stand in line and the staff who has to manoeuvre around the people blocking the floor, and maintain the stations as well as take care of tables. (I dislike them, in case you can’t tell)

Still, it was a good breakfast and we got in some quality chat time with Fran Dowd as well before heading off to check out the art show and the dealer’s room. The former had a few tempting pieces and a lot of artists I am not personally familiar with, which is always nice. The later was mostly books and convention tables, plus a cool jewerly vendor.

At noon there was an excursion to a nearby pub called The Lincolnshire Poacher, which was warm and cozy with a nice beer selection. We spent an hour or so there and then left folks to their pub lunches while we took advantage of the hotel pool and sauna.

Then it was time for the first programming item I was excited about; The Rise of African SFF

Moderated by Geoff Ryman, editor of 100 African Writers of SFF it had three authors on it; Ezeiyoke ChukwunonsoMasimba Musodza, and Nick WoodTosin Coker was also listed but did not appear, sadly making it an all-male panel. But it was a good one all the same, Chukwunonso in particular had some interesting points to make about afrofuturism, African SFF, African diaspora SFF, and how they relate to each other – there was a lot to chew over there and some points I had not considered. There was a handy printed reading/resource list provided by the African Speculative Fiction Society, and after the discussion ended the authors all did short readings.

The next stop was the bar for conversation and beer, of course. We chatted till dinnertime, then found Claire and Mark and attempted to find Tobes – who ironically turned out to be on a panel about food! He promised to join us once that wrapped up so the four of us headed over to Royal Thai down the street, it was the only place that had a table for five available but fortunately it also turned out to be really good. Tobes joined us eventually and we had a nice relaxed meal.

Back at the hotel I got changed and made it back down just in time to take advantage of the free bar generously provided by some mysterious anonymous fan. Then it was time for the Pub Quiz, which was a lot of fun, though by the end of the two hours it had gotten rather chaotic and I had stopped remembering little things like book titles, author names, my own name. We eventually spilled out into the bar and spent the rest of the night chatting. I switched to wine until the bottle ran out and then as the bar was long since closed, the resourceful Ellie Winpenny provided vodka. At around three am I left the remaining souls and staggered off to bed.

In the morning John literally dragged me out of bed for breakfast, which I put down to the inferior quality of the duvets at this hotel and their inability to really get a grip on when you need it. Still, breakfast was necessary and I eventually forgave him. We vaguely considered attending programming but ended up at the pool instead for another lovely soak and swim.

Thus refreshed we packed our suitcases and left them at reception so we could enjoy the last few hours of our convention. Follycon hosted a tea party, with biscuits and muffins as well as far superior coffee to what the hotel had provided so far. Afterwards we picked up our remaining art and the cash for our sales, one of the things I love about UK conventions is the fact that they pay up on the spot rather than after the convention.

The last hurrah before we left was Doug Spencer’s Recycling The Redshirts talk. It was about ST:TOS, its unfortunate death count, and also cannibalism. It was both informative and odd, and a pretty good way to end the convention for us.

We said what goodbyes we could and then disappeared into the chilly Nottingham night.

(Old post recovered from Dreamwidth)

Helsinki Worldcon – Day Zero

We arrived into Helsinki on Tuesday morning and caught the tram to our various destinations; some headed to the Holiday Inn near the convention center, others to Hotel Sokos Vaakuna by the central train station, while John and I had opted for an AirBnB a fifteen-minute walk from downtown.

It was a cute little place on Eerikinkatu, comfortable, with plenty of light, and most importantly; a kitchen. We were around the corner from Hietalahti Market Square, which has an indoor food market and a flea market outside. We had our first meal in Helsinki there, the first of many delicious hamburgers the city served up for us. Afterwards John relaxed and read his book while I looked around the flea market, and then we hit the nearby supermarket for groceries and mixers.

Although the official started of the con was on Wednesday, a reception was planned on Tuesday evening and John had wrangled an invite. We had a couple of hours before that was due to start and I still had to check in on the Fan Lounge and also hang my art in the Art Show, so we figured we may as well figure out public transit to Messukeskus.

Luckily John noticed right before our tram arrived that the reception was in fact taking place not at the convention center but instead at City Hall, a five-minute walk from where we were standing. As a consequence we got there half hour early wandered about till other early arrivals started milling in. We mustered our best fannish social awkwardness and elbowed our way into a random group of Finns and Swedes. Luckily, they were a friendly bunch and we chatted happily until the doors to the reception opened.

After a nice speech by a local politician we were free to mingle facilitated by wine and a lovely food spread. The salmon salad was particularly good, though the locals were obviously amused by our delight. Several Bay Area people were in attendance, a smattering of UK folks, plus a whole bunch of other assorted fans local and otherwise. From what I understand the invites had been at least partly as random lottery, but clearly an effort had gone in to spread the selection over a range of groups to encourage a good mix of people. It was fun chatting with local fandom and getting to see everyone in their finery.

When the reception let out I left John to the tender mercies of Finnish fandom and caught the tram to Messukeskus alone. The tram takes about thirty minutes to reach the convention center and wends through town. The sky was tinged pink with the sunset and as we crossed the river a colorful hot air balloon drifted lazily overhead, the effect was quite magical.

Upon arrival, I was able to pick up my badge but there was no information about staffing matters and the folks at registration didn’t seem to have any idea about ConOps or how I should proceed. They assured me the facilities would be closed at 8pm anyway. A bit skeptical, I hung about a while trying to figure things out, but eventually gave up for the night and headed back into town.

John was merry from drinking with the Finns and had been told about some karaoke thing happening that evening. We set out to find it, which was trickier than expected due to the fact that a lot of places in Helsinki seem to be inside and/or underneath other places. We must have looked utterly lost because a random pair of women obviously on their own night out even stopped to try and help.

Our destination was a place called Kaivopihan Karaokekellari, a cavernous basement bar already packed with early bird fans when we got there. Third Row was ensconced in the back, our Stockholm travel group was already there too, and it was just generally a heaving mass of drunken fandom. I didn’t sing myself but did enjoy watching fandom belt ‘em out till I called it a night.