Concise Convention Report and Some Other Thoughts

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Rustycon 31 Nametag by Ryan Bliss
Rustycon 31 Nametag by Ryan Bliss

Well, this isn’t going to be one of my extremely long columns, because I’ve been fighting off a cold all week; indeed, while I was at the con, I had a couple of long sneezing episodes. Yeah, yeah—poor, poor pitiful me. Let’s move along.

So, as advertised last week, I went to Rustycon 31 at the Seatac Marriott Hotel, in Seatac, WA. For those of you not familiar with Washington State, Seatac used to be only the place where the Seattle-Tacoma (SeaTac) International Airport was located; the only other attraction nearby was Southgate Shopping Centre. (Okay, “Center,” since it’s in Washington!) Not terribly long ago, rather than just being a suburb of Seattle, Seatac actually incorporated as its own city, in King County. And for those few of you who follow—I’m not quite sure why I do—the Steven Seagal cop series “True Justice,” Seattle is NOT in Everett county. Seattle, and Seatac, are in King County—and Everett is in Snohomish County. (If you’re keeping track of all this, Tacoma is actually in Pierce County, just to confuse things.) So some of the larger and most accessible hotels in the Seattle area—like the Hilton Doubletree Inn, where Norwescon is usually held—are in Seatac, not Seattle.

Are we confused yet? At any rate, since Lynne wanted to display and, one hopes, sell some of her bots (Figure 2) at the con, we headed south to the US/Canada border. Although we’re both dual citizens, we find it easier to carry only our Canadian passports, so we get the same evil eye and interrogation that all non-US citizens get at the border. To be fair, US citizens get it too, just to (usually) a lesser degree. After about an hour in line, we got to the booth and, since I was wearing my MAD® Magazine ball cap, bought on eBay, the border guard began his interrogation with, “Where you headed, Mad man?” After a short and painless—since we choose not to dissemble at the border, to save time—chat, we headed south on I-5; we were headed to Edmonds, where Jackie Duram-Nilsson and her husband Chris Nilsson lived, to pick up Lynne’s bots for the art show.

Rizzo the Magnificent
Rizzo the Magnificent

The reason we had to go to Edmonds, which is south of Everett and north of Seattle, is that to save (basically) border hassles, Lynne had mailed her bots to Jackie, who is/was head of the Rustycon Art Show. (Her husband, Chris, is Treasurer of—at least this year’s—Rustycon. Cue Sly and the Family Stone, singing “It’s a Family Affair”….) But since FedEx had delivered too late for the Nilssons to take the bots to the con, they had been left for us to pick up. Easy, yes? We just used Google Maps—since both of us haven’t really lived in the Seattle area for decades—to fix the house’s location, print out a Google streetview of the house front—and headed out bravely to pick up the bots. Of course, there was the small matter of Google Maps mislabeling two of the streets, which slowed us down a bit and made us backtrack a couple of times—and the fact that when we got back on the freeway it was at a complete standstill—and then trying to get back on to old Highway 99 (or Aurora North) at first, and finding out it no longer goes where it used to go thirty or forty years ago, and then getting back on the freeway, etc. Cutting it short, we left home at 9:40 a.m. and arrived at the con just before 5 p.m. Jeez!

All part of the fun of con-going, eh? So we got to the con, registered—fortunately, as an ex-GOH I get in free; Lynne’s badge cost us $55 US (which, now that the CDN dollar is tanking again, is over $60 CDN), and put her bots up in the Art Show. Figure 2 shows one of my favourite bots which, too bad for me, got sold at the con. The gentleman who bought it told me to tell Lynne he really likes her bots. Hey, thanks, but who doesn’t? The bot’s name is “Rizzo the Magnificent.” I managed to sell a couple of books myself—if you don’t have one of my books (I’ve published two) you can always email me or FB me (blatant plug)—and so I was able to buy a couple of little pieces of art for myself and Lynne. And that, and the dealers’ room, was the extent of my con-going. Lynne managed to get to some of the science programming, but otherwise, our whole con was spent talking to people we hadn’t seen in a year or so.

Kids’ Dragon Parade
Kids’ Dragon Parade

Well, I did say it would be a “concise” conrep didn’t I? It’s not that there wasn’t programming I could have gone to—programs ranged from science to science fiction; fantasy to costuming, gaming to writing. There was something there for just about everyone. But unless I plan to write a very detailed conrep—or unless there’s something I think might be of interest to all (both?) of my readers—or unless there’s a panel that really pushes my buttons, I tend to want to spend time with people I seldom see. I will, as a matter of course, put a couple of con photos in. Unfortunately for you, my camera’s a 3D one, and I will only be posting in 2D; I got some great shots, but you’ll miss part of the fun (IMO). In fact, the only GOH I even saw was Ryan Bliss (digitalblasphemy.com), the AGOH. He had a slide show running on two large flatscreen monitors in the artshow; some of the landscapes he does with Vue d’Esprit are absolutely terrific. Figure 1 is the nametag of one of his dragons; the con’s theme was, in fact, dragons.

There was no masquerade per se, but they took photos of various hall costumes and posted them as a “virtual masquerade.” I was told a long, involved story as to why they don’t have a masquerade, but it went in one ear and out the other. They may revise that policy next year when they change hotels. I saw a few very good hall costumes, but one of my favourites was a pint-sized Doctor Who (Figure 4) who, with a little girl dressed as a tiger-girl, was roaming the halls on Saturday. I wasn’t thinking straight, or I would have gotten him to pose with the life-sized (or maybe bigger) radio-controlled Dalek that was also roaming the halls this past weekend. I didn’t catch the young persons’ names, unfortunately. Again, I think this cold I’m fighting kept my brain functioning at a lower level than usual.

Pint-size Doctor Who with Tiger-Girl
Pint-size Doctor Who with Tiger-Girl

If you’re on Facebook, I will be putting up a few photos there—and if you want to friend me, please tell me you’re one of my readers so I don’t delete your request!—because there just isn’t room here to put up more than four or five pictures. Not that I got dozens, but I’d like to post more than the five or so I can get away with here. There was some very nice art in the art show; I didn’t get all the names, although they’re available on the Rustycon website: besides Lynne there were (in no particular order as my feeble brain comes up with ‘em) Ray Williams; Ryan Bliss (AGOH) of course; Theresa Mather; a guy who does terrific 3D art in bronze and/or resin, named David Pancake; John P. Alexander; Lubov; Patricia McCracken; Ralph J. Ryan; R.H. Potter and too many more to mention. I’m a big fan of art, especially genre art, and have sold a few pieces here and there at cons myself—in fact, Lynne and I (plug again) will have a cover on the next On Spec (www.onspec.ca), the Canadian magazine of spec. fiction—and have auctioned hundreds of pieces at conventions. So I think I know good SF/fantasy art when I see it! (If you’re one of the fine artists whose name I didn’t mention, please forgive me. Space and brainpower—or lack thereof—are my nemeses this week!)

Besides the art show—and the restaurant and bar—I did go to the dealers’ room, where I picked up a couple of books being sold by their respective authors, who are (unsolicited plug) Thomas Gondolfi and Henry Melton. The books are An Eighty Percent Solution (book 1 in the CorpGov chronicles), by Thomas Gondolfi from www.tanstaaflpress.com; and Henry’s Stories, Vol. 1 by Henry Melton, from www.wirerimbooks.com (all stories from Henry’s Stories Online, www.henrysstories.blogspot.com). I haven’t read either book, yet, but I will be sure to let you know, faithful readers, whether I enjoyed them and why. I have photos of both authors, and will post those on Facebook as well. The dealers’ room was well stocked with books, clothing, gaming, weapons—two different arms dealers; if you like a nice knife or sword as I do, you would have enjoyed some of their wares, but I can’t really buy stuff like that to carry across the border—and a fellow whose name I didn’t get, but who sold me a lovely hand-made wooden fountain pen. (The barrel was made of wood, and it had a magnetic cap, to make it harder to lose.) He made some terrific pens, pencils and pocket tool kits. You can check him out at PandoraHouseCrafts.com if you like.

Alan Barclay, writer and psychologist-to-be
Alan Barclay, writer and psychologist-to-be

The rest was talking to old friends—I’ll put some photos up on Facebook of them, as well. A couple I knew from Norwescon as well as Moscon—there were Betty and David Bigelow; she danced at Moscon, as she’s an accomplished dancer in several genres, and speaks Klingon among other languages; he plays guitar and sings. Also Dameon Willich and his wife Darragh Metzger; they’re both always in costume and make a striking couple—she writes terrific novels and he does great fantasy art and is a member of the Seattle Knights troupe of horse riders and reenactors, medieval and otherwise. Also present were ex-Moscon people Lisa Satterlund, Master costumer; and Sue Majewski, who along with her late husband, Pete, were Moscon-goers. I also saw Ray Williams, Seattle-area artist, who I’ve known for donkey’s years (wonder how that phrase came about?) and Alan Barclay, who’s doing his practicum for psychology even as we speak. Alan used to belong to my writing group in Edmonton, Alberta, and also helped with Context ’89. In fact, Alan won a major award from Writers of the Future! (I was only a semi-finalist, I believe, but I have a nice certificate for that.) Alan and I chatted about our respective visits to Butler, Missouri—home of the late Grandmaster of Science Fiction, Robert Anson Heinlein. Alan made it to Butler for Heinlein’s centennial ceremony; alas! Lynne and I didn’t make it till last year. Alan now lives in the Seattle area. Fans move around a lot, don’t we? I also had dinner and a couple of good chats with my “kid” sister, Starshadow, who was helping to run volunteers at the con.

So, to round off the conrep, we picked up the unsold bots at 3 on Sunday and headed back to our hotel, the Best Western Executel. It’s a lot cheaper than the Marriott, about $80/night, and there’s a free shuttle that will take you back and forth. (The prices at the Marriott just for food were ridiculous; I think the only meal we didn’t pay at least $60 for the two of us was the snack we had on Sunday before heading out.) Like many fans, we’re—if not penurious—rather low on the money totem pole, so saving money is the name of the game. The border wait was on the order of five or ten minutes, and although the Canadian Border Guard was obviously spoiling for a fight—you could tell from his demeanour that he would have loved to pull us over for a search!—we gave him no excuse and were home by eight. All in all, a fun weekend. Which is what cons are for, right?

Oh, and we listened to the 49ers/Seahawks game on the way home; we got out of Seattle while the game was on, deliberately, so as not to get caught in post-game traffic. If you follow football, the Seahawks won, much to the dismay of 49ers fans. (My son, Stephen Patrick Bradshaw, is one of the latter. We had quite a few of them in our hotel, from Maui, Texas, anyplace in between!)

If you have comments or questions on anything I’ve written, you can comment here on the Amazing Stories website—if you’re registered—or on Facebook, where I also post a link in several fan groups. My opinion is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of Amazing Stories. Next week I plan to talk about a couple of other serials in a bit more depth, and maybe touch on some of the actors in those serials. Or maybe for a couple more consecutive weeks, who knows?

3 COMMENTS

  1. A correction to the above–I didn’t actually buy the fountain pen, my wife bought it for me. She’s a sweetie! And if you look at my Facebook page, I’m gonna post a picture of the tiny Tiger Tank model I got at the dealers’ room.

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