MediaWest*Con #17

reported by Kathryn A

Thursday May 22 1997 - the day before.

I will not go into the hair-raising details of how I got to Lansing on Thursday. Suffice to say, my flight from Chicago to Lansing was cancelled and they re-routed me to Grand Rapids, and I caught a taxi from Grand Rapids to Lansing - a 1 1/2 hour drive! Sharing a room, I was, with Mary O'Connor, whom I had met face-to-face for the first time at LAcon III last year. We weren't in the convention hotel, but we were in the Howard Johnson across the street. (Why a chain that was a restaurant chain in the 70s became a hotel chain in the 90s is something I do not know.) The place was being renovated, so it was a bit messy.

Friday the 23rd of May 1997

Breakfast (continental) was served in the lobby, because the recreation room (which I discovered later was the usual place for it) was unusable due to the renovations. Freshly toasted bagels and cream cheese is a very pleasant way to start the day (bagels and cream cheese is NOT an Australian tradition). And who did we meet but Beth Friedman!

Con registration didn't open until after ten, but the queue had started forming a while before. Then when I got to the front of my A-F line, they didn't have my badge because I was supposed to go to the dealer's room for it, because I was a dealer. So there I went, and there it was, and a star was placed upon it, to indicate that I was a dealer. The badge person pointed out the table she said was ours (Judith Proctor, Patricia Roberts and I), but I wasn't sure, since it was all covered over with a drop cloth, and the programme said that we were table #60, and I figured out that this was table #77. So I peeked in one of the boxes, and it had The Way Back in it, and I thought well, maybe this is the table - and then a tall woman in an Avon costume came up and queried - "Kathryn A#######?" This was Judith P######. Tall (well, taller than me, which isn't saying much) with straight dark blonde/light brown hair - and of course the English accent.

So I went back to the Howard Johnson and retrieved the zines (mostly Refractions 3 & 4) and came back and started setting up.

Costume note: my costume for the day was my pseudo-minbari costume, blue satin blousy pants and sleeveless top, with long silver sleeveless jacket (which is reversable - with the pink side out it is my "Bimbari" costume - see my yet-to-be-written con report on the Parliament of Dreams convention.)

Since I had finished setting up, and we were waiting for Patricia, I wandered around the dealers' room, looking at what else was there. Being in the reckless start-of-the-con I-want-to-buy-things mood, when I spotted a table with Stingray zines, I bought all five that were there, since I had never seen nor heard of anyone doing Stingray zines before, and I am very fond of that show. Chatted with Laurie there about Stingray, mentioned the Stingray cameo in "Voice From The Past" in Refractions #3 (c'mon, what sort of a story is it that crosses B5 and Highlander and also manages to get in a Stingray cameo? Well, you'll have to judge for yourself...)

I saw a table covered with photos, including an autographed photo of Peter Wingfield (Methos in Highlander), but no-one was at the table, so I couldn't buy it. I hoped that no-one would buy it before I managed to come back for it when there was someone at the table, but my hope was not large.

I dashed over the road to get more money from the ATM (buying five Stingray zines had lowered my cash reserves) and when I returned there was a line of people waiting to get in to the dealers room, since it was nearly opening time. Patricia Roberts had arrived and was setting up in the middle of the table while Judith was moving her zines closer together so as to free up more space. Pat was still setting up when the hordes descended.

Someone said later, that most fen buy 50% of their stuff in that first rush. In breathing spaces, I did some buying of my own - from those what I was sharing the table with! They had things I wanted too.

In a lull, I took my leave and dashed back to the table where I had seen the autographed photo - and it was still there! The lady said she had three of them. So I bought one, and returned to the table, floating. (Which nobody noticed, because they were busy!)

Judith was organised enough to have bananas, bread, cheese and peanut butter, which she shared for lunch. Every now and then, one of us would have a break and wander.

The Avon Without Guilt party was at 4pm. Judith and I were the only ones in costume. She was still in her Avon costume, and I had unbraided my hair and put on the linked-chain head-dress that I had bought at ConFrancisco in '93. Posed with Beth Friedman. Someone commented that I looked like Verlis (the slave trader in Assassin) and as the Avon costume that Judith was wearing was indeed the one that Avon had worn in that episode, we decided to pose for a photo. She was on her knees and I held her arms behind her back and pulled her head back. People started talking about blackmail opportunities, but we were laughing so much we didn't care. I met many people whose names were familiar, though the faces, of course, were not. One fellow came in late wearing a Star Trek uniform, so we screamed out "Federation!" at him, and then had to explain the joke.

After the party was over, we went back to the dealers room until it closed. Before then, I dashed to the table across the way and bought some con photos of Paul and Janet (you know who I mean) and then when Judith saw "Roads Not Travelled" in the 2nd-hand zine box there, I had a look too, and found a couple there that I wanted. I also went to Karen River's table, which was directly behind us, and bought some prints, and saw the lady herself. Strangely enough, I had assumed she was a brunette, but real life declared she was a blonde.

Russ McMillan came by during the day and picked up her 'tribber's copy of Refractions #3, and I got her to sign my personal copy of the zine. Sandra McDonald came by one of the times when I was off - arrgh! That's the second time I've missed her. She picked up her 'tribbers copy also. But she was, apparently on a table nearby, so there was hope that we would meet this time.

Then when the dealers room was shut, I wandered around the hotel looking for and at a number of room dealers. I found the Richie Forever party half way through. Though there weren't lots of people there, had a nice chat, and discovered to my chagrin something about the last episode that I didn't want to know!

I found a few more buys in the dealers rooms, and chatted to people, and it was dark by the time I returned across the road.


Costume note: Wore the Avon/Tarrant costume today. Appropriate considering the Tea For Tarrant party was today. Had the Silver Alpha top on underneath the jacket, and changed from one to the other as the ambient temperature and comfort decreed.

I was the first at our table at the dealer's room, though it had already been open for half an hour. Ah, the parties, that would be it...

Finally got to meet Sandra McDonald when the others came, and she was at her table diagonally behind ours. I got her to sign my copy of Refractions #3, I bought a copy of Highland Blades #2 and got her to sign her story there, and Cindy Hudson was there and signed hers too.

I got the good idea of leaving a message at the voodoo board for Anne Smith, because her reserved copy was the only one of #3 left - that one had been attracting attention because of the cover.

Then, then, Jean Curley finally found me! We had been exchanging notes via the voodoo board, and she said she would come by. She had the Buffy tape for me, and had arranged (after our exchange of notes) for my video clips (which she had converted to NTSC) to be shown in the fan video program (but not entered, it was too late).

Then Anne Smith did arrive, but not before someone was eyeing her copy, so he paid for it, in case she didn't show, and when he returned, he would either collect it, or pay the extra for me to post him a copy when I returned home. So I then put out my copy as a display copy in case people wanted to order it.

When I went to check when my video was supposed to show, they were running late as expected, so we figured we'd pop in to the Tea For Tarrant first, dash down to look at it, and then dash back. Well, we did, but we were late and only caught the end of the third (and last) clip. But someone in the small audience asked who did the clips and Mary jumped up and said "She's here!" and pointed at me, and there was a small bit of applause. (grin) "The Traveller" (the Dr. Who one) seems to be the one that people have liked the most.

At the Tea For Tarrant, there were more people in costume this time, but still most people were in the standard fannish T-shirts. I was in my Avon/Tarrant outfit (with both Liberator and Scorpio teleport bracelets so that I could be schitzo), Judith was in her Blake outfit (with Gareth's shirt) and Mary was in her Cally outfit (the one with the white quilted shoulder pieces and slit all the way up the front and dark green underneath). Here's a picture. I can't remember whose idea it was for the next picture, but after yesterday, well, turnabout is fair play. The guy who was in Federation uniform yesterday arrived dressed as Bobba Fett. There were also two heavily armed rebels who had outfitted themselves from the Acme corporation. So, yes, we did some photo posing, this time an Avon-stands-over-Blake's body scene (the two rebels playing guards and me pointing a borrowed gun into nowhere). I hope they actually got poor Judith as she was lying on the floor!

One of the rebels was a fellow Aussie, Alison Glover, who had been better organised than I, and brought some Aussie food; some Furry Friends chocolate bars, and a small jar of vegimite. I had packed some TimTams to bring, but I had left them (kicks self) in the freezer in LA.

Someone had brought their pet ferret in, and he was being cuddled by various people. There were also things on the video, most notably a copy of the B7 blooper reel, which one couldn't hear the sound on because of the ambient noise level in the room.

Judith's voice was gone today, though at times it rallied, but at other times she was scribbling away in a notebook. It's all because (a) she has asthma (b) medication with steriods does her voice in (c) if her voice gets done in, and she talks too much before it is completely recovered, she loses it again. And of course one is going to talk at a convention! The problem exacerbates itself when one is trying to talk over a background murmur to make oneself heard.

Jean Curley peeped in to the Tea For Tarrant to see how the videos had gone, and we asked if we could borrow the tape so we could actually see the whole thing, and Jean suggested we go to her room right then and watch it, so Mary and Judith and I did.

We had a bit of a look at the door decorations, I think it was at this point, or at some point between the Tea For Tarrant and the plays. One door had a Dalek with an imperative talk-bubble saying "Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!" Jean Curley was one of the group responsible for the Due South door-group.

Then we went our separate ways, and I finally found room 369 open, and I bought 3 zines there - Works of Steele and the first two Relativity zines, figuring I could buy more of the Relativity zines later when I got home, if I liked the first two. I had got over my zine-feeding-frenzy by then, you see. In deciding which ones to get, I of course chatted to the editor. Relativity is a universe of its own, which crosses over Remington Steele, Scarecrow & Mrs King, Equalizer and a bunch of other shows I don't know, by making certain of the characters related to each other. It was concieved and is "owned" by one person, but others have written stories set there. There is a timeline and a family tree all laid out, and the latest volume is #6 (!).

Then I stepped across the hall to #370, the place with the ID badges, and dithered over which ones to get. Overall, over the weekend, I think I got too many of them, but it was such a fun idea...

Then I returned to the table in the dealers' room, and I can't quite remember when this was, but the tale unfolds that Mary had been accosted by the organiser of the Masquerade because she was in costume, and pressed to enter, so either she or Judith thought it would be a good idea for all three of us to enter as a group (Blake, Avon, Cally) and I was game (much more comfortable to make fool of self in company) and Judith came up with this funny script (with suggestions from others) for the MC to read out and for us to act to.

Our original plan was to have tea at 6, but with the Masquerade, the rehersal was supposed to be at 6ish, so if we were to get any dinner at all, we would have to have it before then. So it was about 5:30 that we started for dinner in the hotel restaurant (it being closer). When we finished it was about 6:30, and we wandered back and forth trying to find the rehersal, but the only rehersal we found was the play rehersal. So we tried to find the fellow in charge of the masquerade. We did eventually find him, and he tracked down the MC and we ran through it in a quiet corner.

The plays were at 7pm, and were funny. First Xena/X-Files - though Mary had to explain some of the jokes to us non-North American residents. Then the Darkside Story (a musical based on Westside Story). R2D2 was played by a lass in a motorized wheelchair, with a "This Space For Rent" notice taped on the back. Obi Wan decked out in blue Christmas lights was the narrator - though the lights went out after their inital glow and wouldn't come back on again; "I sense a disturbance in the Force". Luke Skywalker singing "Oh Leia! I've just found my sister is Leia!" wouldn't get out of my mind even after the convention. Then follwed the "out-takes you will never see from the Star Wars trilogy" which was very funny too. "Use the fork, Luke." "...holding Vader's leash" Xena versus Darth Vader I tried to take photos, but too many people's heads got in the way for them to be very good. The singing in the musical was, as is usual, more enthusiastic than operatic, but hey, it's just for fun.

The plays only took a bit over an hour, so we went to the B7 discussion after that and Judith kept on trying to talk when she shouldn't, but it's very hard to participate in such a discussion when you can't interrupt people, or should I say, interject. And there was much to be said, for it got into Blake and Avon, and Star One, and leadership, who was lucky and who was foolish...

That finished at 9pm and I dashed up to see if my badges were ready, and some of them were, but they'd mis-spelt my surname on the one that had my surname on it - as I've said before, people seem to suffer from selective dyslexia with regard to ANDERSEN - it had been written down correctly, but the person who actually did the badge had translated it to ANDERSON without thinking. So I took the opportunity to change it to something else instead.

Then I went back down and we chatted, and took another look at the art show (Judith had fallen in love with a cool picture of Joe Dawson, and she's never seen Highlander; she just likes older men...) and we chatted a bit more, then lined up for the masquerade and chatted to our fellow masqueraders.

Now, the problem with being in the masquerade is that you can't see the masquerade, being hidden behind everything and not able to look out because we would be seen. So I don't know what the acts were, though I did see the costumes. Most impressive was the gargoyle (complete with grey wings) and one whose title escapes me, but the lady was in a long robe with a medieval-looking hat, a bead head-dress, embroidery and cross-stitch over the robe - it was beautiful in detail and also from a distance, and she deservedly won best of show, as well as best detail work. We, amazingly enough, considering the judge said "I don't like Blake's 7 but I have a warped sense of humor" won the funniest act.

Here is the script: Title: Blake's 7, the truth. "In Blake's 7, there was never any sex on screen, thus fans have been left in ignorance as to what actually went on after dark. Was Avon sleeping with Cally? (Cally drapes self over Avon) Or was it Blake she really fancied? (Blake & Cally smoulder) Or are the slash fans right after all? (Avon mimes shock, horror. I don't know what Blake was doing since I had my back turned.) Of course the truth actually is - (Announcer claps hand to head in agony as she is glared at, telepathed at and shot at) There was no sex on the Liberator. None at all. Not once. Never! (As Blake, Cally and Avon leave the stage arm in arm) (sarcastically) Oh, yeah, right!"

Since I didn't see the others, I don't know what our competition was. There was a cute cute cute little toddler dressed up as Xena: Warrior Babe. There was a pirate and his prize... there were ten entries all together.

After the bows and the photos, we started wending our way away, but got caught up in discussion with other fen.


After the late night, woke up late. The costume of the day was my second-season Delenn costume, complete with head-bone, which I made for Parliament of Dreams. It isn't a duplicate of one of her costumes, but it is in the same style, just different colours. The head-bone, if worn too long, gives one a headache, so I didn't wear it all the time. Mary and Judith both wore Avon costumes. And later we thought we'd pose for anger meets serenity.

Again, spent the morning at the table, chatting, and selling the occassional zine. This day I managed to get rid of all but one, a copy of Quizine #2 which Annie Hamilton had sent me to sell, but though I tried, even on Monday no-one was buying, so I came home with it, alas.

I dashed out at a quarter after 12 to go to The Pretender panel, and interjected comments along with everyone else. The theories were flying thick and fast. They referred to episodes I hadn't seen, but fortunately I had seen the final episode while I was staying in LA, so I wasn't as badly off as I might have been, considering the revelations that were in that episode.

Judith then dashed off to attend the Stiffies awards (slash awards) and came back happy that Val Westal had won the best B7 art award. So of course she put the certificate on top of the Adult art folder. (Judith was selling prints of Val's work, adult in one folder, gen in another.)

Great thing about meeting people at cons - Linda Knights is now my US agent. Beth Friedman didn't want to do it any more, and I was wondering if I should bother at all, but Judith suggested Linda, and we talked and everyone was happy. Now it just awaits me to re-lay out #3 and #4.

Every now and then through the afternoon, one of us would go to Registration to see if our Masquerade certificates were ready, but they weren't.

At 3:30ish, Judith and I went to the last half of the crossovers panel. Judith was sticking up her hand to talk, and I noticed that other people started doing that too. Interesting psychological phenomenon...

At 5pm the FanQ awards were supposed to be given out, but that was cancelled because the person in charge of the counting wasn't there. They put up a notice later as to who had won. All I remember was that Gambit 14 won the best B7 zine, and Karen River the best artist (as if the result for best artist could be any different - yawn). So Judith and Mary and I went to the Fandom & The Internet panel instead. Alara Rogers kept on piping up from the back of the room, and of course various issues were raised about what was better, and the problems of plagiarism and pirating, editing and the lack of editing, ease of reading, curling up with a zine, instant gratification, and moderation (as in Mailing-List moderation) and the lack of it.

After that, we agreed to meet back in an hour, and Mary and I wandered the corridors of the 3rd and 4th floors, looking at room dealers and decorated doors, while Judith went to the "Going 'Pro'" panel. Mary & I found a couple of rooms with 2nd-hand B7 zines, and among other things, I ummed over a copy of "A Companion For My Death" because the cover was so great, but there was adult content - which I didn't want. I bought it when Mary - who had read it before - said she would give me a list of what portions to avoid. Yep, I voluntarily would censor a story.

When we met up again, Judith told us that Susan Matthews (fan gone pro, whose door we had found in our wanderings) was at the panel, and that the best advice there was to go to (Lit) cons, because you meet with pro authors there - contacts, you see.

The art auction was to start at 7pm, but we decided to avoid the rush into it, so that we wouldn't be tempted to bid on things (particularly that Joe Dawson that both Judith and I had liked) and also because we would get the hotel restaurant practically to ourselves because everyone would be at the auction. We could always peek in on it later, we thought. We never did.

As we went up to the restaurant, who should be there in front of us but Pat Roberts, Barbara Teichert, and Nancy D., so we decided to make a party of six rather than two parties of three. "Three, sorry, make that six." "Any raises on six?" "I dunno, can you see anyone else coming?" And Barbara decided she would treat us all. So we ordered our dinners - after some explaining and translation of food terms for the non-North-American contingent - I wanted to know what scallions were, and Judith wanted to know what a tortilla basket was. So the conversation went from differing food terms, to regional foods, food customs, electoral systems (we did have people there from four different countries), then more food differences because we were ordering dessert. For that, we ended up getting three dishes which everyone tasted; peanut cheesecake, amaretto cheesecake, and lime sherbert. The lime sherbert was quite a bright green, but it tasted nice.

We went from comparative electoral systems to education systems, and then another group sat at the table next to us, and as they were a bit noisy, we decided to remove to Barbara's room, since we didn't want to strain Judith's voice.

Then the discussion turned from real to unreal education systems, specifically, what kind of a degree would Avon have had? Did they have non-medical doctors? (yes, Dr. Plaxton) How was the grading system worked out? Who were the Outsiders? (One suggestion was that perhaps more than just being escapees from the Domes, they might be religious, hence the threat of death for associating with them.) What about religion in the Federation? How come Blake knew so much historical trivia? (One suggestion: Blake was a folk-song buff.) How did Jenna become a free trader? And what did happen to her mother? (One suggestion: she was made an example of by the Terra Nostra by throwing her to the Federation legal system, hence the vision of Fed troopers hitting Jenna's mother.) What was the event which marked the start of the New Calendar, and if there was an atomic war when was it, and not forgetting the destruction of the churches, and were these events all related and did they happen close to the same time? (Judith thought the end of the war was the start of the New Calendar, I felt the war probably happened much earlier.) Also tossed in was Star One and Blake, weather control and traffic control and whether the Andromedans were shutting things down or interfering precisely and with malice. Counter-tossed-in by Judith was Avon and Killer. Someone suggested that Gan was given a limiter not because he was completely psycho, but because he was immune to the suppressant drugs. Another suggestion - the Outsiders could have been a source of black-market non-drugged food.

Anyway, a long interesting discussion there was, full of interruptions, digressions, theories and quotations, which went on until we realized that some of us had to get to bed because they were leaving in the morning! But that just meant that the conversation drifted out into the hall, becoming a long goodbye.

Monday the 26th of May 1997 - the last day

This day was quiet and not particularly eventful. Everyone had run out of money, nobody wanted to buy anything, a number of people had gone already, and many more were departing. After noon, people started packing up, and after two, everyone was packing up.

We tracked down Andre, and the masquerade certificates were finally there. And they spelt my name right! They even spelt "humour" Britishly on Mary's and Judith's, though Americanly on mine.

Mary was stuck in the lobby trying to ring Canada and getting no answer. Others of us helped Judith take things to Donna's car. Then we helped Karen River to pack up.

Then it was time for Judith and Donna to depart for Denver.

Hugs goodbye.

Badge removed.

End of convention!

I wonder if I should go to Deliverance?

And this is what Judith thought of the convention!