Max (hawkida) wrote,

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So I wrote a con report. I posted it to one of my mailing lists and I've had an offer of publication in someone else's zine but I figured it would be a good way of filling you in on where I've been all weekend if I dropped it in here, too. Deep breath, now, it's long!

The impossibly nice Randy Byers throws in a characteristic
"Uhuh," as Nic pauses for thought. He's telling us about
Jimbo, which apparantly means he needs to tell us about
Frank, but in order to reach that point in the tale we need
to know about the guy who lives next door. "A tree fell on
his house, you know," Nic points out. Mark Plummer and I
share a bemused glance. This actually started as the tale
of how Nic and Bobbie fell out with Matt and Charlene but
we still haven't figured out who half of these people are
nor whether we are getting close to the point. It's surely
only a matter of minutes before Bobbie is going to suggest
Nic goes and sleeps now. We're in the smoking con suite and
it's impossibly late but it's okay because back in the UK
it's actually breakfast time and I'm breakfasting on rum.
Trust me, it made sense at the time.

Bobbie herself is over in the kitchen area, hovering,
refilling this snack dish or that, clearing empties into
the trash. She does this a lot, seemingly unable to relax
until someone demands it of her. Ted White waves a pipe in
the direction of Victor Gonzalez but their voices are
drowned out by the sound of other people's laughter. Lying
on the bed on my front, chin rested on a pillow, it's easy
to survey the scene and relax. Nic's conversation is
unabating to the right of me and Mark is either ignoring
everything or letting it all sink in. Randy nods now and
then and he's probably listening to the meandering tale in
order to avoid Eve Harvey's insistance that he should stand
for TAFF. Eve herself is now across the other side of the
room, perched on the arm of the chair John Harvey is seated
in. I'm comfortable, and the well sprung bed has nothing to
do with it. I'm among friends, I'm home. It might be a
country where even I start to think in foreign English
(Bobbie's still dealing with the trash but back in England she'd
be throwing away rubbish) but in real terms this is
somewhere else - the travelling circus of fandom that they
call conventions.

It's all about the 'boo, they say. But it's not. It's about
the rapport, the friendships and the laughs as well. It's
about a common understanding and a similar outlook on how
life is. When I went to Novacon I felt I was starting to
fit in and be accepted as a member of the community. Here
at Corflu I was sure of it. More so, (if we assume there
can be levels of "sure") at a point yet to happen. They
gave me the best new fanzine fan award. They peppered the
announcement with phrases like "landslide victory" and they
made me feel welcome. Uncomfortable under the gaze of way
too many pairs of eyes as well, sure, but I "felt the

But dropping back, a moment, there we were on Saturday
night. Or *was* it Sunday? The days blur. Drink and
conversation flowed through the surprisingly clear
atmosphere. The Radisson air conditioner did us proud, as
did the easy access to both con suites and the generally
amiable response of the staff despite our smoking in the
stairwells, wandering around barefoot and accidentally
dialling 911 three times. At my feet, my small bag is full
of fanzines, both received and ready for offering. Nestled
among them is the camera that will be used several times
throughout the weekend to aid in the web site updates via
the laptop across the other side of the room. Every so
often I glance over. The computer doesn't move, it, too, is
among friends and safe enough that my usual paranoia is
subdued and I leave it in the room when I'm not there
several times.

People ask me what brought me to the convention. I feel I'm
on the spot and reach for answers.

Truth be told, the answer lies partially in my inability to
respond quickly. I'm not good with strangers, not a
voracious talker even among friends. It's frighteningly
possible that a majority of my conversation takes place
through text - primarily online, but also in this new (to
me) world of fanzines. Here I'm among people who have read
me, who I have read. We know one another to some degree
already. It's so much easier to to handle "Ah, so *you're*
[name]" than to seat yourself among a group at any other
convention. Perhaps this is because I'm becoming more
familiar with names and faces, but I think the zines and
online forums have a lot to do with it. It's the tribal
thing. This is my tribe, with all its quirks, in jokes and
internal fights. And this is a homecoming, even if I've
never been here before. I can walk into any of the con
rooms and find someone to talk to. In fact, the gang from
New York who are hanging downstairs have made pointed
suggestions that if I don't smoke I ought to go visit with
them a while. And maybe later I will, but right now Bobbie
has finally relaxed and lay down on the bed and we're
watching Lenny hover in the corner where Yvonne and Jae are
sitting chatting over the voices of Sheila and Victor
arguing about the etiquette of mailing lists. It's a four
day long party without any of that irritating music to
drown out people's voices (so long as we keep Nic away from
the radio alarm clock in the corner).

In fact, the theme of the weekend wavers between the cheesy
slogan "Feel the love" and music. Ever notice how many
fanzine or article titles are musically inspired? Or how
song lyrics sneak in where least expected? Watch out for
them. "That would make a good fanzine title!" people shout
out when songs are mentioned, and in opposition "Sounds
like a good name for a rock band!" follows most everything
else in the lulls of conversation. The Fanzine Titles panel
turned into an extended conversation about music, whilst
Four Weddings and a Funeral turned into a bloodthirsty
discussion of how best to kill the enemies of fanzine
fandom, ably presented by Sheila Lightsey. The Lenny Bailes
show revealed more than one might want to know about our
erstwhile host (and we'll pass over the matrimony question
in this particular forum, thanks) and a Sorenson special
rounded off the evening with a (musical again) thoroughly
entertaining version of The Blues (Booze) Brothers. Kudos
in particular here goes out to Claire Brialey who reports
"Being in a Sorenson musical is probably even worse than
having one done about you, it's not an experience I want to
repeat," despite the many congratulations she received. Eve
Harvey has video evidence of the event - participants may
want to stay on her good side.

The banquet on Sunday was originally planned as a crab
feast and when last minute problems intervened this became
a great source of consternation online with some parties.
Why, asked Dave Locke, Should anyone be forced to pay for a
banquet of inadequate food when they could be out dining
with friends? From where I sat the actual event went down a
storm. The food was excellent and the supplies were vast.
The atmosphere was amiable and the event played host to the
awards ceremonies and Guest of Honor speech. It was Moshe
Feder crowned Guest of Honor on Friday evening, and in
honor of the host state we crowned him good. It was Bill
who co-ordinated the purchase of a large crab shaped hat
which was placed upon his head before he began to address
the audience. Ted White, Nic Farey, and Victor Gonzalez
also took to the podium at different stages at the end of
which the FAAn award winners were named, the past
presidents of FWA were announced as John and Eve, and the
bid for next year's event by the Madison crowd was
formalised. Y'know. The usual.

But it was outside of the formal events that the best time
was had. Lying and sitting around with friends, being
invited out to eat - even if I didn't take anyone up on the
offer in the end. Wandering from room to room, helping out,
being recognised, having a drink and a laugh with fans and
just fitting in.

When everything official was over I helped pack up, and we
somehow managed to fit everything into one car for the
return journey. One car, I might add, upon which I bashed
my head pretty bloody hard, resulting in a souvenir bruise.
But when it was done and we were sufficiently rested I went
on a day trip to America. We had dinner, we checked out the
mall. Then we flew back to the UK, facing the real life
problems of travel and incompetence and beaurocracy and all
those things that give us fodder for the fanzine articles.
There are finance issues to overcome yet, but all being
well I'll be taking another holiday to Corflu next year.
Tracy, Bill - you've got a lot to live up to. Can I
interest anyone in a web site?
Tags: conventions, fandom, travel

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