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Wondercon Report - RonO's Ramblings

Apr. 1st, 2013 11:01 am Wondercon Report

This weekend, Tara and I headed up to Wondercon Anaheim.  The Kid was elsewhere.

Since I was in charge of the Conjecture 2013 / Conchord 25 table, we needed to be there before the loading dock closed at 9:30.  So the original plan had been to leave about the time I regularly leave for work: 6:30.  Due to the normal delays of getting moving in the morning, we ended up leaving a bit after 7 instead.  And I needed to get gas and let Tara get some cash before we headed up, so we were running a bit later than I’d have hoped.  However, we benefitted by an unexpected lack of traffic, so we arrived in Anaheim in plenty of time to use the loading dock.

When I read the rules that stated that carts would not be allowed in the lobby of the convention center, nor in the parking lot by the loading dock, I had concluded that we’d be able to park at the loading dock for long enough to offload onto our own cart.  Instead when we got to the dock, we were met by some of Freeman’s teamsters who quickly took the table supplies, loaded them onto one of their small flatbeds and trucked it into the convention center.  It took us a couple of minutes to figure out how to get from the loading dock back to the short-term parking for exhibitors during load-in and setup.  Once inside, we were directed to exhibitor registration where we got the four exhibitor badges, found our table and got set up.

For better and for worse, we had a fairly small setup.  We forgot to bring a table cloth, so we were setup on the plastic tablecloth provided by the decorator (presumably also Freeman).  But other than that, and the fact that I’d failed to account for an 8′ table instead of the 6′ tables we usually get at cons, the setup was easy and I think was OK, if not flashy.

Once setup, Tara headed out to pick up her badge and the scooter she’d rented for the weekend, while I waited at the table for the hall to open and Jack who would be helping at the table on Friday and Sunday to arrive.

Things stayed quiet at the table in the first hour or two after the table opened.  Tara brought me lunch and after I’d eaten, I headed to the other end of the convention center to get my regular (as opposed to exhibitor) badge.

There was one minor glitch with Friday’s setup.  Since The Kid didn’t need it, I was using his phone for the square.  But I couldn’t get the program to download to his phone due to problems with both the convention center’s free wi-fi and Verizon’s over-the-air network.  So for a while I had his phone and had left my phone at the table.  I forwarded calls, but that didn’t solve the problems with texts – which resulted in Tara texting the wrong phone a couple of times.

On Friday, I made one panel: The Geek & Sundry panel with Felicia Day.  During the panel, it was apparent that she has concluded that the last season of The Guild would, indeed, be the last – but this was not a surprise to most people, so I think I just missed it.

During the rest of the day, I alternated between manning the table and checking out the other entries in the exhibition hall.  We did take a break midday to check into the hotel – but couldn’t get our room yet so I had the bell staff hold our luggage (on the flat cart we didn’t need/couldn’t use during load-in)

Once the exhibition hall closed at 7 and we’d shut the table down by removing the books and fan bait (i.e. candy),  and taking the cash box and our personal stuff with us.  We retired to the hotel and got into our room.  There was one glitch with the room: the only way to get the cart Tara had rented into the room involved me lifting it to get it around a corner that could not be traversed with it on the ground.

We ended up getting a pizza from the hotel’s connivence store, but it wasn’t that good – the sause was way to sweet (quite possibly to appeal to kids in the same way as the sause at a certain rat mouse fronted pizza chain).  After eating, we turned in but somehow it was already after ten.

On Saturday we got up and moving and headed to the hotel’s coffee shop for breakfast – a costly mistake even if the food was good.  It was, by far, the most expensive meal of the weekend.  After that, we headed over to the exhibition hall to find out I’d misread the setup information and we’d really needed to be in there a bit earlier since the hall was already opened to people with professional badges.

There was also a bit of confusion about getting the other two exhibitor badges to Eylat and her husband who were my help for Saturday.

Once they were settled in, I headed up to catch my one panel of the day, Inspector Spacetime (or more properly Untitled Web Series About a Person who Travels in Time as well as in Space.  This in some ways seems like an odd choice since Tara and I have mostly watched Community sporadically off of Hulu+, and I’d only seen the first or first couple of episodes of the webseries.

It was, however, quite interesting to hear about all of the fun, and legal back-and-forth, that led to the series getting created.  Among the highlights was the listing of previous actors who played The Inspector, and the way that the creative fandom took a typo in an interview to create one of The Inspector’s periodic allies: TARVIS; and how this kind of fan creativity has actually be incorporated into the series.

I was also interested in the process of creating the music – including composing a theme that matches the couple of notes heard in the clip showed on Community – and composing the music for the brief cues used in the series.  Because of the way that the composer works and thinks, after the first season/series/story was completed, he was able to release a 30 minute soundtrack album (out of a season of episodes that lasts a total of about 18 minutes).  Included on the soundtrack is the 1974 version of the theme.  I just hope that if a subsequent album results from subsequent seasons, he’ll take on recreating the original 1962 theme – in the style of how the BBC Radiophonic Workshop did the theme for Doctor Who in 1963 using rudimentary techniques.  I’d be happy if he did it all digitally, but could synthesize the sound of that early piece of electronic music.

The remainder of Saturday was spent like Friday – either at the table or elsewhere in the exhibition hall.  I did spot a couple of books: Doctor Who: The Forgotten from IDW and Serenity: Shepherd’s Tale from Dark Horse.  Unfortunately when Tara went to make the purchases, I didn’t have the exact title for the Doctor Who book, and she ended up picking up a different book (Doctor Who: Dave Gibbons Collection) which we’d like to sell to someone who’d actually appreciate it.

Over the course of the afternoon, Tara and I did mention key Hugo Award nominations to two of the booths – Tara let IDW know about the nomination (Best Graphic Story) for Locke & Key: Clockwork and I mentioned Best Novella nominee San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats to them – to be informed that one of the women in the booth dies in it.

After we shut down the table, Tara and I headed to a nearby Denny’s for dinner.  After my quick check had located three Denny’s fairly close, I chose the one that was the second closet to us but the furthest from Disneyland.  It was still busy, and there were a fair number of people there that we could identify as being from Wondercon.

We turned in not too long after dinner.

On Sunday, we had a bit more relaxed morning – but we did have to get the room packed up and checked out.  We got breakfast from two of the food trucks parked on the plaza outside the convention center and had eaten in plenty of time to get into the exhibitor’s line for entry to the hall.  We were fully set up and Tara was off to get in line for the panel on Joss Wheadon’s Much Ado About Nothing.  Since I was stuck at the table until the panel was over, since Jack had to leave after church and wasn’t expected until 12 or 12:30, she texted me some of the better bits.

Jack did arrive in time for me to make my panel of the day, this time the panel for Arrow.  Another good panel, with some nice teasers about what is coming in the last part of the first season.  I also appreciated that they keep an archery coach on set who started out the training of the lead by showing him all of the bad archery she’d seen in movies and warning him not to do any of it.

The rest of Sunday, like the days before, was made up of sitting at the table and checking out the show.

In addition to the two books mentioned, and some movie posters that will eventually go up in the vaulted part of our living room, I considered but didn’t end up getting, a couple of items from the California Browncoats: a “Mudder’s Milk” water bottle and a USB that comes loaded with some related songs.  The former, I never got around to getting, and I wanted to confirm that I had only a couple  of the songs – I’m presuming that Vixy & Tony’s contribution is or includes “Mal’s Song,” which I have.

After the room closed at 5, we got torn down fairly quickly – but not as quickly as nearly every other fan table we could see who had started tearing down before 5 in clear violation to what was spelled out in the information packet.  The worst offenders where, however, the table to our left for the Jerico fan group and one across the way for a Battlestar: Galactica fan group who were gone by 1 and 3 respectively.

Load out was a bit more confusing since I had to palletize and wrap less than one pallet’s worth of stuff and then communicate correctly with the teamsters to get it out to my car.  On the other hand, the teamsters were thankful that I was actually following the rules – way to many people (mostly fan groups, but some dealers or artists) were simply hauling their own stuff out through the loading dock without paying attention to the teamsters moving stuff with fork-lifts and electric flatbeds.

With all of that confusion, it was about six when Tara and I hit the road.  We stopped for dinner at Denny’s in San Clemente, and then rejoined the much heavier traffic into San Diego and home.  We got home tired, and Tara was glad to have today off so that she could further recover and also deal with other issues.

Overall, I’m happy with Wondercon Anaheim, but am looking forward to being able to go there and not be in charge of the table next year.  I would have liked to sold some Conjecture memberships, but we still had a lot of interest and gave out quite a few flyers, PRs and Fandom Indices.

While I don’t think it was a deliberate swipe, or even more than a semi-random arrangement, but I would have found it easier if they’d put us in the same row with ConDor and Comic-Fest, which was near the full corner booth that Gaslight Gathering had.  They easily could have put us in that row, moved the San Joaquin Valley Star Wars fan club to where the Battlestar: Galactica group was next to the Mandalorian Mercs and the Rebel Legion (two Star Wars costuming groups), and put the Battlestar group where we were and had a much more cohesive grouping.  (This would have also given me neighbors who would have even less problem watching things when I had to run to the restroom during my solo shifts.

I also have some ideas how we can handle things both at Comic-Con this year (and next) and at Wondercon Anaheim next year presuming that we are selected to host Westercon 68 in 2015.



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