Georgie and I decided we needed to economize a bit on our trip to Chicon 7, so didn't go down until Saturday. We were up early and caught the Amtrak to Chicago as we had in the past with no problem, but were a bit dismayed when the train came to a halt a few minutes after leaving the downtown station. We were subsequently informed that there had been a motor vehicle accident involving one of the supports of a bridge the train had to pass over, and regulations required that the bridge had to be inspected before the train could proceed. Fortunately, the Canadian Pacific inspector was evidently on deck, since we were underway again within half an hour. The train made up some time on the remainder of the run, so we got into Union Station only about twenty minutes later than scheduled.

A quick cab ride got us to the hotel shortly after 10:30AM. A room was not ready for us, so we checked bags and went to Con registration. This was eerily familiar, with Registration and the Souvenir sales being in exactly the same spots as the last Chicon. At this off-peak hour, picking up our pre-reg packets went smoothly, and I was also able to pick up my Masquerade documents and identification as a judge.

There were some interesting readings scheduled, so we went over to the West tower for those. There was an immense line to get into the room for Patrick Rothfuss' reading (shortly moved into a larger room--), so we decided to divert to another. We listened to some or all of readings by Todd Gallowglass, Dierdre Murphy, and Nnedi Okorafor before breaking for lunch.

We got lunch at the "Bistro" restaurant in the hotel lobby, which was OK, although I've had a better pulled-pork-barbecue-with-slaw sandwich here in Milwaukee at HoneyPie Cafe. Then, we checked back at the hotel front desk, got our room keys, and went up to change.

Since most of the rest of the day would be concerned with the Masquerade, I changed into the outfit I would be wearing to judge, which was one of my "Steampunk" variations based on my black frock coat. When we took a brief look into the Dealer's Room, I was hailed by Phil Foglio, who awarded me a "Girl Genius" Steampunk hall costume ribbon, which pleased me very much. (I was croggled by the number of badge ribbons some people had, creating bandoliers that rivaled "Doctor Who" scarves in color and length. I at first thought that the concom had run amok in this regard, until I realized that every dealer, artist, author and group had produced their own as promotional material. Fun, I suppose, but it kind of defeats the purpose of using the ribbons as an access control measure.)

I had a 4:30PM panel on Masquerade presentations, which was fun if loosely structured. We tried to give some useful tips for beginners, and I think we did, and come up with some entertaining stories, and I think we did that as well.

The Masquerade green room opened at 6PM for an 8PM 'curtain' and I was ready to begin. My co-judge for workmanship, Carole Parker, was on time as well, and we got down to work as soon as we had subjects to look at. (Workmanship judging at the WorldCon is optional, but most of the contestants did opt to be judged on part, if not all, of their costumes.) I thought Carole and I worked together well. There were some stressors—it seemed like a good idea to have the video feed from the ballroom piped into the Green Room. However, it didn't work out so well when I turned out there was no way to turn the sound down or off, and a lot of the pre-show video was LOUD. Given that this meant that "den moms" and other staff had to shout to make themselves heard, it was sometimes really difficult to conduct a detailed interview with the contestants about their costumes. Granted this wasn't something the Masquerade staff had control over, but it might be a note for future masquerade runners to check on.

Some of the entries, notably "Suzaku the Phoenix," (Sarah Mitchell), "Mad Madame M's Marvelous Machine" (Margaret Gentile), and "The Lady of the Lake" (Aurora Celeste), showed obsessive attention to detail as well as representing enormous amounts of work. These were Best Novice, Best Journeyman, and Best in Show for Workmanship, respectively. We awarded "Leather Sole Airship Pirates" Best Master for Workmanship for their amazing operating backpack helicopter device.

After the Masquerade, we pretty much went to bed, as it was pretty late.
Sunday morning we were up fairly early, and partook of the breakfast buffet at the Bistro restaurant. I had the buffet, which included a pretty nice made-to-order omelet, and Georgie had the cinnamon waffle, which she pronounced good.

We started the Con Day by attending a reading by Carol Berg, author of "The Spirit Lens" and its sequels. She read from a forthcoming book that will follow her "Lighthouse Duet," novels I haven't read but will have to look up.

At 10:30, I was on the panel "Historical Accuracy in Fantasy." This was an interesting and wide-ranging discussion that took off in ways I hadn't anticipated, but enjoyed. The audience seemed engaged as well.
After that, we caught part of the Early Music concert by "Court and Country" which we found very fine and a joy to hear.

Then, we got seats in Crystal Ballroom B early, to watch Toastmaster John Scalzi interview astronaut Story Musgrave. What a man! As the event description says, "Story is an astronaut, surgeon, jet pilot, and landscape architect. As he flew on six Shuttle missions, bred a unique new type of palm tree, and earned graduate degrees in seven different subjects, he has ignored all conventional limits." Besides that, he seems like a genuinely modest individual, and has a good sense of humor, too. I don't recall if he plays any instruments, but, as Georgie noted, he's as much like a real-life "Buckaroo Banzai" as you are likely to meet.

We then went back through the Dealers' Room, and bought a few things, including our friend Sue Burke's translation, "Amadis of Gaul, Book 1".

We finished the program day by attending "Tolkien and Me: How and When I Was First Introduced to the Books, and the Effect it Had on My Life". While in some ways this panel had some interesting information, mainly on the history of Tolkien fandom in the US in the 1960's and 70's, most of the panelist's stories started something like, "I first read The Lord of the Rings in 19XX, and I was hooked immediately." So far, so good, but no one went into why, or what about the books appealed to them. We had to make our dinner connection so ducked out before or if anyone got around to that topic--.

Sunday evening, we skipped the Hugo Awards. All honor to the nominees and winners, but we hadn't really read or seen many of the nominees, so didn't feel that interested. Instead, we went out to dinner at a restaurant called ZED 451, which was a sufficiently interesting experience I've given it its own review, following. Back at the hotel, we hung out until the London in 2014 party opened and partook of their hospitality for a time before retiring. (London got the 2014 bid unopposed. Intriguing possibilities there--.)

Monday morning, breakfast at the hotel again. We checked out of the hotel, no problems, and caught some Chuck Jones cartoons before attending the Ray Bradbury memorial panel, which was kind nice, but kind of formless.

The trip home was not as pleasant as the trip down. Amtrak at Union Station has a 'departure lounge' that was crowded and a bit too warm. Once on the train and rolling, we were hardly to Chicago's north suburbs before we became aware of gravel being thrown up against the floor of our car, a sign that something was dragging. The train stopped, and inspection showed that it was the electrical cable connecting our car and those behind us to the front of the train. The conductors did their best to reconnect it, but the incident had also shorted out the train's power control system, so electricity couldn't be restored. This meant that we had to proceed to Milwaukee with no air conditioning. We survived, but the heat was definitely getting to me by the time we arrived. The train staff did their best, but, as we overheard one say, "Mechanical (meaning "maintenance") had failed" them. We got into Milwaukee, again, about half an hour late, and cabbed home to unpack and recover.

Glitches aside, we had a good time, saw a lot of people we hadn't seen in a long time (and often their new children/grandchildren), and enjoyed some nostalgia of the 'remember when' sort prowling the Hyatt's familiar passages.
The second North American Discworld Convention was held at the Concourse Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, July 7,8,9,10 and 11. Henry Osier, with whom I've worked a number of major masquerades, was running the "Maskerade" for this convention, and asked me to act as the judges' clerk. I agreed, expecting that this would be an opportunity to at least see Sir Terry Pratchett. Other than that, I wasn't terribly interested in attending a five-day convention devoted solely to Discworld, fun as that is, so made arrangements to attend Saturday only.

I did purchase a couple of "distressed" memberships for myself and Georgie so that we could go the whole day and enjoy the programming, etc., in good conscience, and had a pleasant time. There was a fair amount of programming. We sat in on part of the "Wyrd Sisters" play, and attended the "Victorian Internet" panel at which I learned some interesting things about shutter telegraphs (the original of the Discworld "clacks") and the development of the electric telegraph system in Britain. At midday, we went out on the square in quest of the Farmer's Market, which was, however, very reduced due to the Art Fair on the Square, which we walked through briefly.

Back at the con,we checked out the small dealers space, and heard guest Esther Friesner read a very funny fantasy story (forthcoming in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine), about travelers encountering Norse legends in the wilds of Minnesota.

After that, we got seats for "Talking with Terry," in which Sir Terry and his personal assistant, Rob Wilkins, gave a very frank and affecting talk about what it is like to be one of Britain's most famous authors; the effects of Terry's Alzheimer's disease; the "horrors" of traveling to the USA and dealing with the TSA; and adventures in the rest of the world, including finding rugged bushrangers in remotest Australia who are "your biggest fan."

After checking that the masquerade green room was open and running, we ducked out to get a quick sandwich and then prepped for the masquerade. Judges were Sir Terry; his British agent, Colin Smythe; Esther Friesner; Bernard Pearson, who runs "The Discworld Emporium" and is reputedly the physical original for Archancellor Ridcully; and fan Pam Gower who became the image of Granny Weatherwax.

Discworld Emporium provided very handsome certificates for participants and awards, embellished with Ankh-Morpork stamps from their collection, as well as a pair of lovely trophies for Best in Show and Author's Choice awards. Georgie filled in the names and award titles in her calligraphic hand.

The masquerade rans smoothly with a lot of very nice entries. Considering that all but three of the entries listed themselves as "novices", some were flat-out astonishing. Best in Show was "The Dance of the Seven Deadly Weapons," in which the slim female presenter produced weapon after hidden weapon from her elegant dress, finishing up by causing a full size genuine crossbow to appear from under her skirts. There were some spectacular props: "Twoflower" had a beautiful "iconograph" prop, which not only opened up to show a full diorama of the artist imp inside, but incorporated a fully functional digital camera and color printer AND served as remote control for "The Luggage," which followed him about the stage. Another costume included a fully functional shutter telegraph mechanism. The "Author's Choice" award went to "Gladys the Golem," a very simple costume that was very well presented. Of course, there were a lot of novice errors--not speaking up enough, or too talky entries, but overall the masquerade was of a very high standard. Overall, it ran smoothly and fairly quickly, and we got lots of compliments from the judges about how well it ran. Apparently, Sir Terry mentioned the masquerade in his closing remarks as a high point of the convention.

Since we weren't staying overnight, Georgie and I packed up as quickly as we could and headed home. Henry still owes me a drink for this--I shall collect in good time!
We hit town early Friday afternoon, and started the Con out by dropping in on The Gathering and generally driftng around there, the 2nd floor hall, dealer's room and con suite when open, saying hi to people and gerally touching base. We got dinner at one of our regular Madison spots, Dottie Dumpling's Dowry (great burgers and steak sandwiches), then back to the hotel for more smoffing before the Opening Ceremonies.

For the first time in years we wer in the audience rather than on stage. I was tickled that the Opening Cermonies sketch took the form of a Masque, which closed with a clever filk of "Rainbow Connection" called "Rainbow Convention." Bravo!

We cruised parties lightly before calling it an ealy night before retiring, since we both had early panels.

Saturday, Georgie launched into her 8:30 panel, "Underneath It All," with Elizabeth Bear, Carla M. Lee, and Jasmine Ann Smith. This panel was a pretty thourough exploration of "underground" as a theme in fiction and the various ways it is used. A full house and a good lively audience for that early hour contributed to a free-ranging and very informative discussion.

My first panel was "Officer Unfriendly" at 10:00AM. I moderated, with Richard Bowes, Sara Brodzinski, Lettie Prell, and Ekaterina G. Sedia. we ahd a very strong discussion on the problems of policing in the real world and how those are reflected in fiction. We pretty much agreed that, other than Lije Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw from Isaac Asimov's "The Naked Sun" and "The Caves of Steel," and "Gil the Arm," from the story series by Larry Niven, there aren't a lot of "hero cops" in SF. Instead, the police force tends to be made up of rebel cops fighting the system, cops hoplessly mired in the system (ala Phillip K. Dick), and "1984" Thought Police, dystopias being a lot mor common than utopias. (And, contrary to popular belief, most Utopias rely on rigid enforcement of laws and social norms.)

Over the lunch break, we dined on Con Suite hot dogs, a sugar and chocolate fix from the Tiptree Bake Sale, and then did some serious huckster room diving. We picked up orders from DreamHaven and Rider's Dolls, and I filled in the hole in my "Girl Genius" folio collection at 20th Century Books.

After lunch, Georgie went to "Three Comrades Go On a Quest," and I devaited up to the sixth floor for "SM in Feminist Science Fiction," which also played to a very full house. Works discussed were broken down into "well written", "phiosophically interesting," and "hot." Interestingly, there was not much discussion of actual feminist or not, although most of the works mentioned might have been considered at least "not-too-sexist" by virtue of being represented at all. I was kind of surprised that the more "hard-core" readers were quite dismissive of Jacquline Carey's "Kushiel" books, and that there were some people in the audience that welcomed a reissue of Lichtenberg's "Sime/Gen" books. (Very interesting, since it was the late Susan Wood's massive dissing of those stories that was a massive controversy at WisCon 2 and helped put future WisCons on the overtly feminist track.)
The very fun peortion of this panel was "who's writing SM but doesn't know they are," with the late David Feintuch ("Midshipman's Hope," et al)being prominently mentioned. (I wondered to myself if self-flagellation counted--Feintuch's main character spends much of the series mentally beating himself up--.)

Next, we both went to the "Ten-Foot Shelf of Perdition" panel, which was to warn us off of bad books. The panelists had far less than ten feet worth of books prepared, but the audience filled in by enthusiastically tramping on various literary excesses and stupid author tricks, not all in SF & F.

Following that, we went to "Sarcasm and Superheroes," which updated us on the current state of female superheroes and feminist cricism thereof, chiefly by younger women witers and editors. Very interesting, but not actually very sarcastic, with particular concern at the extent to which heoines and the significant others of heros have been the victims of rape and/or murder lately. Some very good discussion of good comics to introduce to new readers, either adult or child.

For dinner, we kept up our Saturday tradition of dining at L'Etoile accompanied by Maureen Kincaid-Speller and Paul Kincaid. Both dinner and company were excellent as always.

After dinner, Paul was on the panel "Making War on 'War'", and had some excellent things to say, along with Jean Mornard, Chris Nakashima-Brown, Wendy Allison Walker, Laurel Winter, and a very engaged audience. (I had proposed this panel, but hadn't shown myself as available for this time slot--). I was very pleased by the work done in this panel trying to find alternatives to the "war" metaphor that pemeates so much of our discourse. I still tend to like my own proposal of seeking "solutions" rather than "victories," but there were some very good other proposals as well: i particularly liked Nakashima-Brown's enthusiastic proposal to "hack terrorism," which I think could have good application. We had an interesting discussion with Dr. M.J. Hardman after the panel, and found she has done some work in her classes along the same lines, and we will be proposing a follow-on panel for next year.

Again, we had early panels Sunday AM. I maintain that having the "New Atheism" panel on at 8:30AM on Sunday was some scheduler's idea of a jest, but there has been some historical precedent for religion panels to end up on Sunday morning in the past--. Heidi Lampetti did a good job of moderating a panel composed of me, Jorjet Harper, Laurie J. Marks, and Doselle Young. We all identified as 'atheists' with varying degrees of toleration for "spiritual" pursuits. We also had a very interesting and interested audience which entered with us into a "spirited" discussion of what atheism is, how the "new atheists", who take the position that religion and belive in God are activley harmful, differ from past positions, and why they are coming out on this topic now. My opinion is that their rhetorical bomb-throwing arises from frustation that the reactionary religious seem to have all the "bully pulpits" and that liberal churches are not being heard. Quick, can you name a prominent liberal clergyman? Other than the late William Sloane Coffin, I can't. I bet we can all name three or four well-know religious Rightists--.

During the mid-day break, we looked in on the belly-dance demo, which seemed well-attended and had some very good leaders. Kudos to Tracy Benton for getting it on the program, although I know the scheduling and other issues caused her a lot of heartburn.

After lunch, I was on the "Male Allies" panel, organized and moderated by Ian Hagemann, Aaron Lichtov, Benjamin Micah Rosenbaum, and Jef A. Smith. This panel was intended to bring out some realistic approaches to how men can help in the feminist cause without telling women what they should be should be doing, or taking a paternalistic approach to "lifting" women "up." Although this problem has no simple solution, I thought much good was brought out on the idea that this was an ongoing work that none of us was going to see the end of: as Aaron quoted, "It is not for you to complete the work, but neither may you abandon it altogether." this was my last panel of the convention as a participant, and I thought it very good. I was pleased that I got very good feedback from both men and women regarding my contributions to all three panels I was on, so had a particularly good WisCon in that regard.

After the panel, I met up with Georgie, Tracy Benton and Bill Bodden, and we went out to do the last shopping for the Fancy Dress Party. Our shopping trip ended about four fifteen, and we took a break to relax and read a bit before starting the party prep about 5:45. We rearranged the room, decorated with garden "wallpaper" from a Disney Princess party kit to represent the Elysian Fields, and worked until just before party time prepping food, setting up the drink fountain, and getting into costume. (I tend to mind the drinks, so I dressed as Bacchus, in a crown of vine leaves, cotton tunic, and "toga" of a purple sari fabric.) Georgie dressed as Emer the Riddler, wise wife of Chuhulainn; Tracy as Undine, a water spirit; and Bill as The Green Knight. After the expected slow start due to GoH speeches, the party really took off and was one of the most energetic parties on the floor. We had a lot of good costumes show up, including our friends Judy and Bob Seidl, Judy as Susan B. Anthony in a deep violet Victorian dress and a sash reading "Votes For Women", and Bob as Paul Bunyan. Elise Matthisen had a really splendid sea-goddess outfit of green satin, accessorized with a shell-beaded hat acquired at the art show and shoes decorated in the oceanic motif that had been done overnight. We had a mischevious Eris, a cleverly done Xena, and a spectacular grouping of the "Birds of Prey" team from DC Comics, lead by Liz Henry as Oracle, and including Black Canary, Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, Power Girl, and Big Barda.

We had some fun food ideas, the central offering being the "Make Yourself A Hero" sandwich line. There were golden apples, chocolate (food of the gods!), Bugles (miniature cornucopias)and others. Georgie offered guests the Hazelnuts of Wisdom. A box ominous marked "Do Not Open!" sat on one of the tables. Thos who did so found inside a "can of (gummi) worms." The fountain ran with wine (sangria) and the ever-popular asti spumante and sparkling fruit juice made up the beverage offerings.

We stayed open until 1 AM, when things began to wind down and we began to fade. Other parties and the constant hall chatter went on until well after we were done breaking down at 2AM--.

Monday morning, we had energy to hit one panel, the "Boy Books? Girl Books?" panel on books for children and young people. Moderator Sharyn November rathr tended to dominate this panel, but she's an entertaining speaker and knew a lot of good dirt about the publishing biz, so we didn't mind.

We strolled through the "sign out" and I acquired four good Andre Norton collections in hard cover from the Tiptree dollar sale for a buck each.

All in all, a very good con. We are all ready registered and planning for next year.
Monday, we scrounged brakfast from the Green Room, justified by my presence on the morning panel, "Is The US a Dictatorship Yet?" My conclusion, yes, since we have one-party government and moderate members of the Republican party are not willing to challenge the party leadership to reign in the executive, who is meanwhile keeping everything possible out of the courts under the chilling rubric of "state secrecy". Other "radicals" on the panel, Eleanor Arnason, Avedon Carol, Gregory Frost, and Mary Doria Russell, differed in degree, although we all agreed that the situation is still salvageable, and recommended various resources for information and action, including Avedon Carol's Blog at http://sideshow.me.uk/ which has lots of links to other useful stuff.

Georgie, meanwhile, was on the "Judging the Tiptree" panel with co-judges Liz Henry and Matt Ruff, recounting the intellectual adventures of arriving at this year's winner, the very deserving "Air: Or Have, Not Have," by Geoff Ryman.

Since we prudently packed the car and checked out before breakfast, it was realtively easy for us to then disengage and duck out, which is our wont. The Signout and Dead Cow Party attract, but the prospect of getting home at a reasonable hour is even more attractive, so we drove home with no problem--having a much better time of than the poor souls who were stuck in Chicago or couldn't even get there by a huge storm cell that closed down O'Hare airport. Even that has not spoiled the tast of what, from all I am seeing, seemed to have been a wonderful con for all concerned.

Congratulations to the WisCon Thirty Committee. A masterfully run con, a beautiful memory book worthy of a WorldCon, and many many more good memories. Here's to thirty more!
Sunday we broke our fast on bakery purchased Saturday morning, an launched into a round of early panel viewing, starting at 8:30AM with "Shapeshifters: Moral Ambiguity and Sexual Threat." The panel, who ranged from X-Men fans to a transgendered person cut a wide swathe through the topic and had a good time doing it. "Homes of Our Own" at ten AM explored a broad number of approaches to the theme of home in fantasy and science fiction (and mystery and romance--) but reached no conclusion on whether men or women discernably wrote about home differently. Both were very enjoyable.

We sallied out to Kabul restaurant for our main meal of the day at lunch time. Kabul is another one of our ritual stops in town and the chicken shish kabob and kofta karayi were as good as ever.

Georgie was on "Narnia: Faith and Feminism" at 1PM, along with David Lenander, Penny Hill, Sylvia Anne Kelso, and Cynthia Ward. This was a very good panel on Lewis and his writings with a number of different viewpoints. Georgie's remarks to the effect that Narnia is a Christian's story, but not a Christian allegory, were recieved by the audience with literal applause. Her idea that Lucy shares with Alice and Dorothy the position of "opener of the way" to the fantasy land was also well received.

Immediately after the panel, it was meet Bill and Tracy and fight our way through the entangling conversations for the trip to Woodman's and final party supplies. Since we arrived back inthe middel of the last afternoon panel, elevators we mercifully clear, and we took the opportunity to stage all our stuff down to the sixth floor.

We got into Room 607 quite promptly at 5PM and began setup, which consisted of loading cheese, meat, and drinks into the room refrigerators, and icing down the rest of the drinkables in the bathtub. Then we hung decorations, including Venice travel posters, feather masks, and gold foil spirals depending from the ceiling. Cutting up our trademark fresh pineapple and surrounding it with melon chunks did not take long, so we actually had time to take a break and get into costume in a leisurely fashion before laying out the remainder of a descent antipasto: olives, artichoke hearts, picked mushrooms, salami, prosciutto, and cheeses. We also had an assortment of delicious Italian cookies from Sciortino’s bakery here in Milwaukee. The piece de resistance of décor was a rented “champagne” fountain, which inspired a lot of comment. I was surprised at how many people had never seen one. We filled that with Asti Spumante and managed to keep it sparkling along through the night, even if the thing did leak, slowly. Keeping with the “sparkling” theme, we had Kirschten Regale sparkling cider and pear juice for soft drinks, and Andre cold duck for those who preferred red wine. (Yes, cold duck. Hey, it was with our theme. And it actually isn’t bad. It was a blast from the past for a lot of people--.)

Georgie looked gorgeous in her beaded dress of deep sea-green with matching Venetian mask and traditional hat, and a flowing diaphanous wrap spangled with sea-themed decorations. Tracy Benton was even more spectacular in her hand-dyed silk period gown of cloudy violet shades representing nebulous outer space. Bill Bodden was regal and imposing in black and gold as the Doge, and I was in black and white parti-color as Harlecchino, both of which costumes were also sewn by Tracy.

We opened the doors at 8PM, figuring that since the con was sold out and the dessert reception only had 400 tickets, there might be a lot of people at loose ends until GoH speeches. We were wrong about that, but we did provide a haven for a few drifters, and we considered it a good omen that out first guest came in an attractive Renaissance costume.

Things livened up gradually with many guests showing up attractively masked and garbed. The decorated vizard masks I had made proved popular as a party favor, and our food and drink selections stood us in good stead until the party wound down about 1:30AM. I would have to say, a good time was had by all.
Saturday dawned with fair weather, and we took the opportunity to go around the wonderful Farmers' Market, admiring the flowers and the food. We gathered breakfast, sampling from a number of booths we usually pass by after having croissants, and were pleased to find it was all good.

The first panel we attended that day was "Writing vs. Politics," with Gregory Frost, Eleanor Arnason, K Tempest Bradford, Douglas Lain, and Steven Schwartz. This was a very searching discussion touching on the tensions between pursuing one's art, and working to preserve a political environment that may be required for that art to flourish. This is not an easy decision, particularly when one has limited time, money, and emotional and physical resources as well. As ever, audience participation was vigorous and I picked up a number of references and connections for political writing.

At lunch break, we swept through the Dealers' room and art show, picking up a new Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, a paperback of "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell," among others, and I got an action figure fix from Rider's Dolls.

Then, we went to "Borderlands of Science." Had I known that the main thrust of the panel was going to be skepticism, I might have skipped it. Make no mistake, it was an excellent discussion, again, very scientifically rigorous, but I really had wanted to hear what we KNEW about SETI, dark matter, and consciousness theory, among other things touted in the panel description.

Then, we took a break from programming to visit the Tiptree bake sale and chat a bit before the four PM panel slot, in which we both had panels. Mine was remembering WisCon 1, with Amanda Bankier moderating me, Jeanne Gomoll, Richard Russell, and Phil Kaveny. There were a few attendees of that Con in the audience, and other who came on board at number Two or therafter, and we had a good if occasionally bittersweet time reminiscing about how it all began. I suggested this panel, so I was pleased at how it turned out. Georgie was on "Future Earth," along with Brendan Baber, Richard Chwedyk, Liz Gorinsky,and Amy Thompson, and had a good time there, as well.

Then we changed for dinner and went out to L'Etoile with our British friends, Maureen Kincaid-Speller, and Paul Kincaid. This has become a regular event for us, and it's delightful to chat with them over a lovely dinner. As ususal, Debbie Notkin, Ellen Kushner, and Delia Sherman were at another table at the same time.

We went back to the hotel to digest a bit before Georgie's panel on "The Librarian Hero," which was both well attended and well received. Georgie, Heather Whipple, Jay Lake, Laura Quilter, and Deborah Stone both recounted true tales of librarian heroism and recommended good fictional stories as well.

We caught some of the Tiptree auction action, including the "pink bra" episode. I've seen some rather inaccurate summations of what happened, so here's the scoop. Mary Doria Russell's peripatetic pink brassiere having been donated back to the auction, Ellen Klages haled both Mary and the most recent known owner, Karen Joy Fowler, up on stage and demanded they decide what to do with it. They initally complied by wrapping it around Ellen's mouth, which failed to silence her (Ellen: "I've got a microphone in my bra.") Then, their eye fell upon Geoff Ryman who had been taking his ease in the audience careless of impending danger. However, when they lunged for him, he leaped up and ran for it, making several circuits of the stage, the ballroom and corridor before going to ground underneath the stage risers and feigning to telephone for help. Contrary to many reports, Ellen did not take part in the chase, but stood bemusedly on stage while the pursuit went on. Mary Doria Russell ran in the front of the hunting pack, being assisted by several enthusiastic fans who pressed the fugitive Ryman closely despite his notable advantage in leg length. Eventually bids were accepted to put Ryman into, and then release him from the brassiere, which he modeled upside down and backward around his hips with the cups cradling his buttocks. (Having seen Ellen previously auction off a Maidenform bra add from the 60's, I was surprised we didn't hear something about "lift and separate" here, but it was getting late.) My action figure was one of the last things to be auctioned, and fetched approximately $250.00, which pleased me.

A brief pass at parties, and then to bed. This year we came too late for Haiku earring, although we did get to read the poems others had written.
I forgot to mention the first panel we went to, which was "Two Different Species?" discussing sex differences and the research associated with them, such as it is. This was a really fine discussion, with Benjamin Micah Rosenbaum, Aaron Lichtov, and Linda McAllister bringing both a great deal of intellectual rigor and real-life experience to the topic.
Having done some scouting Thursday night, we had determined that Cafe Soleil (L'Etoil's downstairs breakfast outlet) was open Friday morning, so we repaired over there for breakfast. It was a very pleasant change to stroll right in instead of standing in line for half an hour as is usual on Saturday morning, and actually be able to sit at a table inside and enjoy the divine filled croissants and tea.

The first panel we got to was the afternoon's "Differential Diffusion of Created Languages," which compared and contrasted the L'aadan and Thlingan'hol (Klingon) invented languages. On the panel were Susette Hayden Elgin, crater of L'aadan, and John M. Ford, author of "The Final Reflection" which is a Star Trek Universe novel from the Klingon point of view which has a short vocabularly of its own version of a Klingon language, Klingonasse. I admired Suzette's scientific dedication, as she more-or-less cheerfully admitted that the L'aadan experiment had "failed"--or, more properly, yielded a negative result, indicating that women in general did not perceive a need for L'aadan. Several of us in the audience pointed out that the apparently wider acceptance of Klingon was associated with a "coolness" factor due to being part of the Star Trek Univers and figuring in several major motion pictures, and that if there had been a big-budget movie of "Native Tongue" with several glamorous stars as the Linguist women, things might have been different.

During The Gathering, I dropped off my contribution to the Tiptree auction, a 12" Space Babe action figure, customized from a Cy-Girls "Aurora" spacewoman, and including a display stand and case. Then, we rehearsed the Opening Ceremonies skit (written this year by Tracy Benton and Bill Bodden, with musical interlude by Jim Nichols), then took our first pass at the Dealer's Room.

Saturday dinner was at the Mediterranean Cafe, a little hole-in-the-wall on State Street which nevertheless has great Greek/Mideastern style food, fast and cheap.

Then, back to garb up for the Opening Ceremonies and tech rehearsal. Bill and Tracy played themselves as WisCon Opening Ceremonies script writers scrounging for inspiration at the last minute, Ruth Nichols as the Muse of Science Fiction and Fantasy, myself as the Muse of Classical Drama, Jim Nichols as the Muse of Humor, and Georgie as the Muse of Practicality. We got sound set pretty well, then stood around as the audience filed in and the "regular" part of the Opening Ceremonies failed to launch on schedule. This was partly due to a) waiting way too late to get started setting up the computer to be used for the slide show, and b) standardizing on Macintosh equipment for the con, since no one really understood how the Mac equivalent of the "Powerpoint" (TM) software worked. (I found this somewhat of a point other ways as well when using the public computers. The non-standard browser was clunky to use, did not seem to have control functions in common with either Netscape OR Internet Explorer, and was not compatible with at least one of the sites I wished to view). However, once commenced, the actual opening remarks were remarkably short, largely because Scott and Jeanne forbore trying to introduce all the notables in the room. When we got on, the playlet went very well, and seemed to be well received by the audience.

After, I had the "Gender in Gaming" panel, which I enjoyed. I rather dominated early remarks with my "old fart" tales of the early days of Role Playing Games, but the panel took off into a very lively discussion of sex and gender in different gaming genres and styles, including LARP (Live Action Role Playing) and MMPORG (Massively Multi-Player Online Games). Friends Victor Raymond and Bill Humphries were also on the panel and added a lot to it.

We hit a couple of the parties, including TOR (again until it got too loud) and went to bed at a not unreasonable hour by Con standards.
I wopuld have posted some of this closer to real time, but our room was on the tenth floor of the Concourse, which is just at the limit of range for the hotel wireless and couldn't hook up.

We blew into town via car from Milwaukee with no difficulties, checked in about 2PM, and got into our room right away, unloading our baggage, two sets of costumes (for Opening Ceremonies and for the Fancy Dress Party), 30 or so bottles of various drinkables for said party, other party supplies, and 240 individually hand-decorated masks to give away as party favors. After unpacking and being frustrated by the computer, we went out to get dinner at Dottie Dumpling's Dowry, our favorite Madison burger spot, which was as good as ever.

We ambled back to the hotel and spent some time just chatting with the new arrivals before going over to A Room of One's Own for the reception and readings by Jane Yolen and Kate Wilhelm. Yolen read some very inspirational pieces and Wilhelm favored us with a harrowing but non-SF short story.

Back at the hotel, we dropped in to the OddCon party. I had hoped to score a bit of free beer (New Glarus brewery "Spotted Cow"), but a part was missing from the dispenser, and we went to bed when the dance music got intrusively loud.
Saturday afternoon, Georgie and I drove down to northern Chicago to visit DucKon, a small convention in its thirteenth year. DucKon doesn’t bill itself as a ‘relaxacon,’ but its niche seems to be as a haven for recreational subfandoms that have been squeezed out of larger Chicago-area cons. Specifically, there are almost full tracks of activities related to Klingons, “furries”, and techy fandom of the “build a blinkie” or zapgun style. We had been asked to help out Henry Osier with the scheduled Masquerade, a task which ended up being superfluous: there was only one genuine masquerade entrant (Milwaukee costumer Nancy Mildebrandt) and one last-minute refugee from furry fandom. There had already been a fursuit parade earlier in the day, and the Klingons in evidence weren’t considering their outfits as “costumes.” (One of the fan distinctions I learned early on was that between “costume” and “garb”, which is something you wear in persona, as with SCA.) While it was fun to see our Chicago-area friends (and we acquired a few more books from Larry Smith’s extensive inventory) we had a hard time finding panels that interested us. The best was “Building a Better Ray Gun,” chaired by Isher Weapons designer Tulio Proni, which discussed the real world limitations of beam weapons given present physics and engineering: hint, don’t throw out your firearms any time in the near future. “After Tolkien” was a well-done little panel on what to get kids to read after Tolkien (or after Harry Potter), but which didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know. “Skeptics vs. Psychics” was Round 13 in an ongoing series at this convention, and interesting for expounding on the current research on psi phenomena and how brain research such as MRI may link in. We had a pleasant dinner with Henry at the hotel coffee shop, slogged through the very brief masquerade and introduced the performers who would fill the time (largely the indefatigable Great Lukeski), and then drove home. It was a lovely day for driving, and we had good traffic both ways, so it was a pleasant outing even if the original purpose kind of petered out. The visit makes me think that I wouldn’t sign up for a full DucKon in the future, but a day trip just to shop the hucksters and see friends might be worth it.
I had one panel, on “Life after Fandom,” on Monday morning. The topic was SF and Fantasy oriented reading groups, how to organize and run them. We had a variety of experiences related by me, Minnesotans David Lenander and Eric Heidemann, and Janice Eisen, with interesting input on a Chicago-based political SF group from the audience. After checking out of the hotel, we made a last pass through the “Sign Out,” a new ending event, and the Dealer’s Room. As usual, we leaked out before the “Dead Dog Party” and drove home, where we collapsed in satisfied exhaustion.
Sunday was a big day for us: Georgie had her panel on “Trickster Goddesses,” with Guest of Honor Eleanor Arnason, and fellow Milwaukeean Sue Blom in the Chair. The panel went well, Georgie pulled out some impressive references, and the audience contributed obscure bits of knowledge in the traditional WisCon fashion. In the early afternoon, we went out party shopping with co-conspirators Tracy and Bill to get perishables for our party. Once back to the hotel, we gave ourselves a brief break to rest up, but had to go to the discussion on the WisCon retreat to find out what had transpired there. We’d had less ambitious plans for dinner, but ended up at our usual Sunday place, Kabul, anyway, and fortified ourselves for the coming tasks. We encountered Tracy and Bill on the way back to the hotel in search of ice cream, and joined them for a scoop. Then on to the party set up, which went very quickly and well, since we had a smaller room, and did not have to fool around with lighting or drapes as much. We got into costume, and I must say we all looked fabulous, especially Tracy in her hand-made Barbary Pirate outfit. I took charge of making punch and tending bar, which kept me busy throughout the night, but I met almost everyone who came in, and had a good vantage point. We had Pirate Music (“Pirates of Penzance,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and “Toucan Pirates”) but at one point I discovered the music I was hearing wasn’t ours—one fan, whose name I never got, produced a “squeezebox” and gave us live music, which evolved into a session of singing sea and folk songs, lead by Ellen Kushner. They were still going strong by 1:00AM when we ran out of rum (three quarts!) and Tracy declared the party closed. A good time was had by all, and we seemed to be the talk of the con the following day.

Due to the party setup, Georgie had to miss the Tiptree Award ceremony, for which she had been commissioned to produce a gift of artwork for the winner (Matt Ruff, “Set This House in Order”). We did hear afterward that Ruff was very pleased with the multiple portrait depicting his characters, and that the Tiptree Committee members were very happy as well, which was a great relief and pleasure for Georgie.
We awoke and were displeased to find the weather pouring rain, which stinted us our tour of the Farmer’s Market, although I did coat up and venture over to L’Etoile to procure the necessary croissants (chocolate and marzipan, yum--). We attended Eleanor Arnason’s reading of her Hwarath short stories, which was excellent. Of course we also toured the dealer’s room where we visited friends, bought books from DreamHaven, and I acquired a few toys for my collection. Dinner was back to L’Etoile (fortunately, the rain had let up) with Paul Kincaid and Maureen Kincaid-Speller (peake and brisingamen, respectively). It’s great fun to dine with them, as they are wonderful conversationalists and are also charmingly appreciative of L’Etoile’s exquisite cuisine. After dinner, I was back on the panel circuit for “Arg, Pirates!” which was a purely fun panel and gave me a chance to plug the pirate-themed Fancy Dress Party for the following evening.
Having packed our car with our considerable impedimenta, we drove over to Madison late morning, and got to the Concourse by 11:30AM with no difficulty. Both traffic and weather were good, none of which could be said for those arriving later in the weekend. We were able to check in, unload, and move into our room with fair ease as well, although no baggage carts were to be had.

We then took the necessary stuff to the ballroom for The Gathering setup, where we staffed the “Custom Button” table. My job is to take tickets, cut rounds of colored paper and pass them to Georgie, who letters the purchaser’s slogan. Then, I compress the button parts together using the press to make the finished item. Having practiced at home this year, I did a fair job and didn’t screw anything up unsalvageably. We were kept fairly busy, producing almost four dozen buttons. In addition, Georgie lettered a sign for pat Murphy, and was rewarded with a handsome balloon hat for her pains. This event gives us an opportunity to meet new people and discuss their enthusiasms while the buttons are made. Some of the wittier sayings made it into the con newsletter.

After clearing up the table, we ran over to Myles Teddywedger’s to get Cornish pasties for supper, and to them back to our room to eat and get changed for Opening Ceremonies. The sketch was “Conablanca,” with the final script adaptation by Tracy Benton (replyhazy) after suggestions by myself, Georgie, Bill Bodden (billzilla), and Jim Nichols. As usual, we did it radio-style, with script in hand and minimal blocking, but the audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy the play, and we got compliments on it all weekend long. The cast was: myself as “Rick” (my Bogart impression—more like a “faintly reminiscent”—went over OK), Georgie as “Ilsa,” Tracy as “Louise Renault,” Victor Raymond as “Victor Laszlo,” Bill as “Mr. Strasser,” Jim Nichols (who played and sang his own version of “As Cons Go By”) and Ruth Nichols as “The Narrator”. Tracy intends to put the full script up on the Net shortly. Then off to parties and panels, with me on an 11:45PM panel on “Male Bonding in ‘The Lord of the Rings’” where we had a vigorous and enjoyable debate on whether or not reading any homoerotic subtext into the work is legitimate. (I was firmly in the ‘Nay’ camp, and was able to bolster my position with reference to Leslie Fiedler and other critics.)
Sunday was a big day for us. Ah, I forgot to mention that Georgie has been asked by the Tiptree committee to provide the official gift artwork to next year's winners! Thrill!

The "Interstitial Arts" panel was very interesting and exciting. Both of us hope to get involved with the movement very soon. (Georgie has already had a chance to look at their website,a nd found it very interesting with lots of good resources.)

At the noon break, we went party supply shopping with Tracy and Bill, and got the last minute stuff we would need.

We had one more panel to do just before the dinner break, "And I Found Me Alone on the Cold Hill's Side," about sleep and dreaming in fantasy and SF. Steve Schwarz was a great contributor, and the small but enthusiastic audience told us they thought it was a very good discussion.

Then, into party setup. We had been initally dismayed by the size of the room, which was the same one the TOR party uses--rather large and garishly lit for the more intimate party we had had in mind--but brainwork allowed us to both cut down on the lighting and break up the space with use of drapes and strategically placed furniture. We interspersed changing into party clothes with snatching bits of the GoH speeches--Carol Emshwiller funny and affecting, and China Mieville funny and ascerbic.

Georgie looked fantastic in her brilliant orange Indian ensemble (from "Ganesha's Treasures") and Tracy and Bill glittered as the Queen and King of the Nile. I went for more restrained elegance, as I expected to tend bar, and wore my frock coat, velvet vest, poet's shirt, tuxedo trousers, and my best jewelry. We attracted a lot of fabulously dressed people, and a good time was had by all, and we closed up about 1:00am when things seemed wound down.

We headed home fairly early on Monday as we usually do. All in all, it was a very good WisCon for us, and we look forward to next year as ever.
On Saturday morning, we made our obligatory pilgrimage to the Farmer's Market, which starts with croissants from L'Etoile. We encountered Milwaukeeans Shelia Haberland and Pat Bowne while we shuffled around the Square and bought lilacs for the party.

Back at the con, we hit the panel on "Older Female Questers," but found it to be disappointingly shapeless, as well as hard to hear in the large room (doubly so since Suzette Hayden Elgin was on the panel, but couldn't haul it into shape all by herself) so we ducked out to the Dealer's room and acquired a boatload of books from DreamHaven. The program item, "Ursula LeGuin and Carol Emshwiller Talk to Each Other," was funny and facinating as the two compared their very different backgrounds and writing styles.

Georgie and I were both on a panel in the early afternoon on "The City Underground" which took a good tour through Urban Fantasy, SF and Horror. As always, I noted other people's titles for future reading--.

For dinner, we took Britfans Maureen Kincaid-Speller and Paul Kincaid to L'Etoile, a place we regularly hit when in town, and they had both expressed interest in. For the uninitiated, L'Etoile is Madison's finest restaurant. Odessa Piper, the proprietor, is a disciple of Alice Waters, and a James Beard Award winner. Her emphasis on local fresh produce means that a spring menu includes such delights as new asparagus, morels, fern fiddleheads, and ramps, plus delicious meats and fish. Observing the awe and wonder on Maureen and Paul's faces as they dug in was worth the price of the dinner alone. (The Chocolate Vesuvius is a definite plus, though!)

After dinner, the Tiptree auction was next. Although we missed the early shenanigans, we were there for some awesome bidding as what must have been a record-setting auction. (Judging by bids, Ursula Le Guin could support the award with her embroidery single-handed.)Then back to the parties. Of course one had to stop in at the TOR party, and we also dropped in on Turbo-APA, Kansas City in '06, and Haiku Earring, where I traded thirteen syllables for a pair in red called "The Laughing Challenge."
Georgie and I headed off to WisCon early Friday morning, partly because we were making a stop in at The Chocolate caper in Oregon, Wisconsin, to pick up cake and chocolates for the party we were helping to host on Sunday night. If you are in the Madison area and haven't tried Chocolate Caper chocolate, you must if you care for chocolates at all--they are the best! Besides, Claude and Ellen who run the place are the coolest people imaginable.

We got to the Concourse and checked in about 11:30am, which gave us plenty of time to get moved in before setup for the Gathering. We were pleased to have a room on the fourth floor, which was quite handy to all the function spaces. We had agreed to staff the "Custom Button" table and were happy to find out that our co-staffer was very skilled with the button maker. We got off to a slow start as initially people were attracted to the more glamourous activities such as Tarot readings by Suzy McKee Charnas and balloon squids from Pat Murphy, but we fairly quickly attracted a line of our own and had a decent assembly line set up for cutting paper and assembling buttons, while Georgie consulted with customers about desired designs and slogans. The Gathering seemed to be a really popular event so far as we could see. I bought several buttons myself, and also a packet of REALLY powerful Sri Lankan Curry Powder from Marianne Mohanraj.

After chasing off the last button customer at 5:30, we ran out to our usual Friday night dinner spot, the Radical Rye, for quick sandwiches before the opening ceremonies. We hooked up with "Uncle Don" Helley, who was helping us with the opening Skit while there. Then back to the Hotel to change, get set up, and rehearse the skit.

"Real Stories of the Information Highway Patrol," was written by myself, Lee Schneider, and Georgie a few years ago for a small con that had very little overlap with WisCon, and it updated quite well. (I need to upload the script to the Milwaukeesfs.com website--) Kudos to Madisonians Jim Hudson (the Slowpoke), Bill Bodden (the Kid), Tracy Benton (the Surfer), Don Helley (the Hacker) and George Bass (the Spammer). The audience seemed to enjoyed it and laughed at most of the jokes, so I judge the performance a success. We got several good comments on it after, and Georgie was also complimented on her very sharp announcer suit.

My first panel was later that night, on "The Genius Child." Elise Matthesen did a good job moderating, and the discussion was quite lively and informative. After that, we only had energy enough to hit a couple of parties briefly (OddCon, premiering the fourth in the series of T-shirt and logo designs by Georgie)and went to bed about 1:00am.
On Saturday the 26th of April, Georgie and I went back over to Madison to drop in on Corflu 20, known as Corflu Badger, since the tradition appears to be to adopt monikers for the various cons in the series rather than the more usual numbers.

We got a sufficently early start to stop in at the first outdoor Dane County Farmer's Market of the year, which was also a scheduled event for Corflu. We raided the market for cheese, frozen meats, and some of L'Etoile's divine croissants. We didn't recognize any of the Corflu members there--they may have been temporarily held off by the same flood of race-runners that made our escape from the square a dodgy enterprise.

Corflu is a small con, dedicated specifically to fanzine fandom. Georgie and I were present becuase of Georgie's artwork for the con and for "Wabe" and "Chunga", two current fanzines, and our writing and LOCing for them.

Corflus tend to be programming light. This one's agenda had six items total including Opening Ceremonies and GoH Speeches. Times between events were taken up by "Algonquin Hours" (basically free time) and generous meal breaks. We got in in time to enjoy most of the "Team Fan-Ed" panel, which dealt with tag-team zine publishing as currently done by the aforementioned Wabe, Chunga, Banana Wings, and Plotka.

The interval turned into a lengthy chat session in the con suite, so we did not get to the "Cult of Live Jounal" panel. "Live Fanthology '97" was an interesting discussion of the process of fanthologizing as well as a brief retrospective on the 1997 fanzine field.

Rather than getting to the "Truth or Memoir?" panel, we hatched plots with Madison fan Tracy Benton for the Fancy Dress Party we are throwing at the upcoming WisCon. By the time we were done with that, we decided it was time for dinner, and ducked out with such alacrity that we missed the opportunity to dine with Scott Custis and Jeanne Gomoll, who couldn't overtake us.

We had a lovely dinner at the nearby LuLu's Mideastern restaurant, and returned to the con to get an unexpectedly warm welcome, since people had come to the conclusion that our sudden disappearance had meant that we were abandoning the con.

We found a comfortable place to sit off the InnTowner's lobby and read though some of the zines we'd acquired, and gradually collected a core of past and present Madison fans to schmooze with, including Spike Parsons, Julie Zachman, and Kim and Kat Nash.

The big after dinner event was Andy Hooper's radio play-cum-quiz game, "Why You Got This Zine Is Late," which was a tour-de-force of lovingly satirizing the history of fanzines into the 1990's. Georgie sucessfully guessed ten out of eleven faned transitions and won the chocolate computer prize that Andy put up.

I scored copies of "The Enchanted Duplicator" and the British fanthologies from the TAFF table, and current issues of Chunga, Plotka, and "Random Jottings #2", all of which I need to digest and LOC as appropriate.

We were glad to see all of the above, plus Bill Bodden, Hope Kiefer, Jae Leslie Adams, Jim Hudson and Diane Martin. We had a good time and would rate Corflu Badger a success.
One of the attendees has posted an excellent series of photos from all phases of Costume Con at:

http://www.snapfish.com/login

to access the photos - in the email box enter this address:
ecgphoto@yahoo.com

the password is: starwars

Thanks to Mary Alice for all these pix. They look great!
Over Easter Weekend, Georgie Schnobrich and I went down to the Doubletree Hotel at Skokie, Illinois for Costume Con 21. A number of current and former Milwaukee area fans were involved in both bidding and running this unique convention, including Co-Chair Henry Osier, Historical Masquerade Chairman Nancy Mildebrandt, SF and Fantasy Masquerade Chairman Andy Trembly, and Dealer's Room head Kyym Kimpel, and Greg "Animal" Nowak in the Con Suite. I was flattered to have been asked to be Master of Ceremonies for both the major masquerades, and Georgie both acted as my assistant and as the Master of Calligraphy for award certificates.

We got down to the hotel about noon Friday, which left us plenty of time to get settled in, get a pretty good dinner at the "Daily Grill" in the hotel, and change for the evening social, which had a Roaring 20's/Mobster theme. Georgie and I had coordinating pin-stripe suits with white bouttonnieres. There were a lot of other mobsters from other periods represented, including 40's Zoot suiters, 50's refugees from "Guys and Dolls," and 70's "Disco Boys" plus the ubiquitous Star Wars heavies, medieval rogues, and a really spectacular "Blade" outfit. The ConComm laid on a really excellent swing Big Band accompanied by some very talented singers. It was a very good time and went well into the night.

Saturday morning we had time to check out the dealers and catch a couple of panels. The dealer's room was quite small due to limited space. One room was taken up entirely by "Alteryears", who are virtually a general store in themselves, and the other had a corsettier, a dealer in trims, a dealer in beads, La Paloma hats, Poison Pen books, a pattern dealer, and one with a mixture of books, yarns, and other notions.

Technical rehearsals for the Science-Fiction and Fantasy Masquerade "technically" began at noon, but we had a two-hour delay due to problems with the stage setup as provided by the hotel. Once rolling, however, we picked up speed, were actually on time for a few minutes, but lost ground and ended only an hour late--which, given the size of the masquerade, wasn't bad.

We dashed across the street to Panera for a tasty sandwich for dinner, then back to dress for the evening. I wore my "PsiCorps" black Nehru suit, with a silver button bearing the motto "Look Sharp, Feel Sharp, Be Sharp," in place of the badge. (As I said, "The Concom is Mother, the Concom is Father.") Georgie had a very dapper black brocade pantsuit with gold embroidered Chinese motifs.

The SF&F Masquerade had 34 entries, which ranged from the cute to the really spectacular. Winner of Best of Show and several other awards was "The Court of the Crimson King," based on the song of the same title, with a cast of twelve and unquestionably the most magnificent costumes and props. "Night Hunt" was a close runner up, with an etherialy beautiful and poigniant presentation. "Dragon Hunter" consisted of an amazingly engineered Black Dragon with glowing eyes and steaming breath that stood fully twelve feet tall. There were many other beautiful and intricate entries: "The Dragon's Jewel," "Debonair", "The Digital Revolution," "Emperor Cartagia," "Lady of the Nebulae," "The Dream Time," and "Dr. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," were all particularly noteworthy. The judges had a difficult time reaching decisions and the time taken almost ran Moebius Theater (the interval entertainment) out of material.

Tech rehearsals for the Historical Masquerade started next morning at 9:30 to noon, with a wind up session four to five, which actually ended at five-thirty. We still had time to get a good dinner at Ruby of Siam and get changed. This time, I wore my frock coat, ruffled shirt, brocaded vest, top hat and cane. Georgie looked beautiful in her authentic Austrian "tracht", or ethnic costume.

The Historical Masquerade was smaller, with 21 entries, but still the best seen in some years. Top Honors were shared by "The Final Touch," a meticulous reconstruction of a 19th century Danish woman's outfit, and "Dioresque" a "grand golden gown" in homage to Christian Dior. There were many other very beautiful and intricate pieces. "An Evening Out," and "Summer of 1894 in Black and White," were lovely Victorian gowns. "Tempus Fugit" was the most dramatic. And great construction and good humour vied in "Nero Wolf," "Supercalifracilisticexpialidocious," "What if Elizabeth I Went Goth?" "King Henry Tudor-Tankamen," and "Cardoon, A Peasant and her Horse." Words fail to describe all these. If I can find any pictures posted, I'll put up a URL.

The interval entertainment was the first-ever full-scale "Iron Costumer." Kevin Roche put together an incredible spectacle as "Iron Costumer Fantastic" defended her title by taking on two teams of challengers to assemble a costume and accessories featuring the secret ingredients, AOL CD-ROMs and Vinyl Siding.

We also took in the Future Fashion show, with notable entries "Fractal Robe," "Layered Outfit," "Opening Night at the Midnight Ascots," and "The Dragon Queen." The Doll Masquerade and Costume exhibit were well worth looking at, and the sole Video entry, "What's Opera, Doc?" was a pure hoot.

By Monday, we were too tired to do anything but drag ourselves home with heads full of beautiful memories.

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