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The Dragon*Con Report

This is going to be pretty damn long. I want to get this all out of my head so that I can get back to actual work.

WARNING! There are some personal details in this. I'm opting not to put it behind a friends lock because I don't feel like writing this twice. If polyamory, same-sex contact, or mushy stuff offends you, go read somebody else's update. I missed most of what people consider the actual con anyway, and I'm okay with that.

The con really started Thursday afternoon for me: I went to pick up cunningminx from the airport, then we headed to the Hyatt to meet with eugie the Daily Dragon editor. Chatting with her and her staff was more about fun than work. We got home about the same time Anna did, and headed out for the Dreadful Dinner.

Here's why Dinner was Dreadful. Everybody knew ahead of time that we'd be having a serious talk on Thursday. Minx and Anna had some communication and trust issues to work out between them, and there'd been a lot of tension and even anger since the week before. I am very not going to get into the details of that right now; but we knew we'd have to have a conversation in person, and it might go well or might increase the conflict.

So we decided to go out to dinner, and picked a local Tex-Mex restaurant. Where Alex thought it'd be fun to spend the evening climbing over Anna and throwing silverware, and where a roaming omnifucking mariachi band made it impossible to even think clearly, much less talk clearly. We also learned that Minx has a passionate distaste for mariachi bands -- a natural consequence of growing up in Texas and being overexposed to them -- and...well, everyone was tense and no one talked.

We went for ice cream before heading home. There's a Bruster's near the house. And that serious high-stakes conversation? Turned out to be surprisingly easy, and happened over the course of about five minutes while standing up and dripping ice cream on the grass. It didn't resolve everything; we set a placeholder to talk again in a couple days; but it was conducted the right way, and when it came to Minx's trust issues that was more important than actually having the answers.

At home, there was cuddling and talking, and I stayed up late to finish some work that couldn't be put off and to get the first episode of this year's Daily Dragon podcast produced and posted.

First order of business on Friday was to pick up Claudia Christian from her hotel so that Minx could interview her. (Oh yes. My morning really sucked.) >8->

That was rather cool, brief as it was. Once Claudia realized that our mission was to get her from the Marriott to the Hyatt across the street, she was rather, "That's where we're going? Hell, I could have walked, I'm not fragile!" I agreed but said I was just following orders. I did at least get her to the front door of the Hyatt on the other side of the block, which was less chaotic. And that's the last I saw of her, or of Minx until she showed up later on to give me the audio and ask if she sounded like a gibbering idiot. (She didn't. The full interview is quite cool and rather sexy.)

Then we met with Anna, and I stood in the damn Ticketmaster line with her to get her badge as long as I could before I had to make it to my first panel. Anna was there two-and-a-half hours. Minx helped out by babysitting Alex; first showing him some of the costumes in the Hyatt, then keeping an eye on him during the panel. She was wonderful with him, and I'm glad they had fun.

(Alex and a working R2D2. He poked at R2, made friends with the droid, and when we walked away he waved and said "Bye-bye robot!")

Next up: I had promised to buy dinner for Mike Resnick and his wife Carol. We found each other in the Hyatt lobby with only minor difficulty, and went to Steak & Ale. rslatkin and vatavian also joined us, and we had a terrific conversation. I owe Mike a great deal for bringing so many authors to Escape Pod and talking us up in the pro community, and we talked a bit about how EP and Baen's Universe might be able to help each other. He's an incredibly nice guy with a huge amount of patience for me and other folks getting started in the industry, and I'm proud to be forging a friendship with him.

And then we got changed for Scott Sigler's Pimps n' Hos party. I left early for the party while Minx tried to hook up with some friends.

This was a terrific party. With some accessoring help, I think I was pimped out pretty well, although several people told me I was instead doing an exact impression of Elton John:

(Elton John going incognito as a science fiction podcaster.)

There was some distress for a while as the fire marshals had closed down all the Hyatt entrances, and it looked like Minx wouldn't be able to make it in. But somehow she did (it's possible her dress was not a detriment to this), and we spent the rest of the evening there. Sigler (whose pimp name was Soupbone) was bloody on all night, truly hilarious. I got reasonably toasted, which amused Minx quite a lot; I made out with guys, and she rubbed boobies with women, and there was lap dancing and kilt inspection and a whole lot of fun. There were a few twits and jerks there, but only one was a podcaster, and none of them were sufficient to spoil our mood.

(What this picture does not reveal is just how short her skirt was. It ends right there.)

Downside? That we stayed until 2 AM, which is far past Minx's functional health limits, and she really regretted it the next morning when her arthritis flared up and she couldn't move. And then I was up until 5:30 AM working on the podcast.

In the morning, took care of Minx. Then met up with Anna (her parents were in town to watch Alex), had brunch with Chris the Fixed Kitty and her fabulous beau (both dressed in very elegant Girl Genius attire), and cruised the dealer's room and the Marriott halls just looking at stuff and collecting interviews for the DD podcast. I talked to stormtroopers about what the Empire was doing to maintain order at Dragon*Con. I talked to Jedi about those intrusive stormtroopers. Best two interviews were the director of the blood drive, and then Minx talking to George Hrab as he was giving blood.

(Minx/Inara the hot interviewer. And some really smug guy next to her.)

Then we get up to the room to decompress, and I check on the audio... And there isn't any. I had had the wrong inputs chosen on my Zoom recorder the entire time, and was too stupid to do any checks or look at the recording levels. SHIT.

Once again Minx came to my rescue. Anna and I dressed and left early to meet a friend of ours and then head to the Parsecs, and Minx went down to get some more interviews. She did an amazing job given the short time we had -- these are the ones you hear in Saturday's podcast.

(Me and Anna before the ceremony. She looks amazing, and many people told her so.)

And then the Parsecs. Fun time. Some of the exact same technical glitches from last year, but that's fine. I didn't win, but of the podcasts I was familiar with, everyone who did win deserved to. Rick Stringer (the other nominee in my category) really does an amazing job with his production values and sound effects, and deserved the honor. If I'd lost to a podcast that sucked, maybe I'd be a little resentful... But in total honesty, I don't know any short fiction podcasts that suck.

But the real reason I went? I went to be seen with these two incredible women, and yeah, to show off how good we all look together and how much fun we're having. I'm not kidding; it's vanity, but so what? I was honest with them about it, and they thought it was cool. And man, does Anna look amazing in that black vinyl ballgown. We'd walked through the art show before the show, and all heads were turning to her. And with the three of us together, I felt on top of the world.

(The three of us. Yes, I am a lucky guy. I know it.)

After the ceremony and a bit of relaxation in the hotel room I walked Anna back to her car, then changed out of my suit (Minx kept the corset and wig) and we did a bit of party-hopping. We went first to vernard's party -- I know V from way back in my Georgia Tech days -- and it was hot and crowded enough that we'd only have popped our heads in, except that I ran into an ex of mine. We hadn't seen each other in years, and it was a unexpectedly strong pleasure to see him again. He and I spent ten minutes talking while Minx got a backrub from skellington, and then we bugged out because it was too hot and crowded.

We played elevator tag up to a higher room in the Marriott where some friends of Minx's, ldyalia and others, were just chilling out, and spent a good bit of time chilling with them. They're good people, and I felt surprisingly validated being welcomed into their conversation. Then it was off to another party where Minx was hoping for a scene, but they kicked off a card game instead. Not a bad time, but I was worried after the prior night, and we decided that hanging around to play cards was a poor use of Minx's remaining energy reserves. So we went back to the room. And I was up until 5 AM working on the podcast.

I'm not going to talk a lot about Sunday. Not that things didn't happen, but most of the important things that happened are things I'm not going to talk about in public. Sorry. Let's just say that in Minx's and my private time, there were really bad lows and some really good highs.

The listeners' brewpub gathering was good. We'd made reservations for 30 and about 40 people showed up, which is terrific considering how far we were from the con. While there was a lot of crossover, I'm pretty sure there were more Poly Weekly listeners and other polyfolk there who wanted to meet Minx than Escape Pod listeners. That made me happy. There wasn't sufficient time to really get to know everyone, but the conversations I had, I really enjoyed. And this fabulous woman, Diana (does anyone know her LJ name, if she has one?) bought Minx lunch.

(Do you know this woman? Minx and Diana at Gordon Biersch brewpub.)

(Minx and...yeah. Bet you recognize us from our shirts.)

(She spent a lot of the weekend doing this.)

In the evening we worked a shift at the newsletter office, and I got the podcast done before 5 AM for a change. After that we headed back to the Hilton; the idea was just to hang out for a while with a bunch of friends at the hotel bar, but things changed slightly. songjewel and her boyfriend (whom I haven't been told I can identify here) wanted to speak to Minx and me for some poly relationship advice. It started there, and we went into a lot of storytelling and truth-speaking and generally getting closer, and I believe we ended with the development of a really good mutual friendship. I think all of us have said that this was the highest point of Dragon*Con for us. A real conversation with real people. There's nothing better.

(Minx, Nuri, and Podcasting's Rich Sigfrit. We had a lot of fun with these folks.)

Laid back morning. Got up and dressed and packed in time for my 10 AM 'Future of Podcasting' panel, and Minx went off to meet James Marsters. The panel was a pain in the ass. There was a personage at the table (I really think he wants to be seen as a personage rather than a person) who was condescending, oratory, and at one point outright insulting. It took some real self-control at one point not to just say, "Wow. You are a dick." And of course it veered off-topic more than it was on-, and I don't think it informed anyone or even used anyone's hour very well.

(This doesn't fit in the narration anywhere, but it's my favorite costume from the con -- and the only one I took a picture of. You might recognize her from the Doctor Who 'Madame Pompadour' episode. Yes, that's clockwork in her chest -- and she ticked ominously. Brilliant.)

Ran out afterwards to do an interview with the very cool and very British Paul S. Jenkins, and then cheated at the elevator game (I took the service elevators) to get out of the hotel in time to get Minx to the airport. We kissed goodbye. We think it was a good weekend.

Went home. Napped, went to the dog park, took Anna out to dinner -- yesterday was our eighth wedding anniversary. Had a wonderful evening with Anna.

And now it's Tuesday, and... Well, I guess Dragon*Con is over as soon as I hit the post button.

Great time, everyone. I didn't do everything I wanted, but that's a universal law of conventions. Almost all of the time, I was doing the right thing for that exact time. And that's all you can ask for. Thanks to everyone I met, sorry to everyone I didn't, and I look forward to the next time I see you.

Whew. Whatever your weekend brought you, I hope it was just as much fun.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 4th, 2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
eeeeeeee you met Claudia Christian omg.

(I know you said other things too, but my brain got stuck on that one.)
Sep. 4th, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
I know you said many other things, but I do have to say you look almost as good in a feather boa as I do. :)
Sep. 5th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)
everyone's entitled to an opinion...
Steve's cute...but...sorry, I just got distracted with the combination of imagining you with your feather boa and the gorgeous Anna and Minx pictures and my brain overloaded...
Sep. 4th, 2007 10:46 pm (UTC)
I am sad that coming to the escape pod meet up thing did not work out for me. I would have liked to met ya but sadly in con chaos it did not work out, maybe next time. I did see you leaving the Parsecs and thinking at the time, that is a lucky man as you wandered around with your two lovely lady companions.
Sep. 4th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC)
Wow, you make a pretty bad-ass pimp.
Sep. 4th, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
I saw you twice at the con and you seemed really busy in another conversation so I didn't say hi this year. Glad to hear that you had some good times!

(And let's just imagine I said hi. We've said hi before, so just replay that in your head.)
Sep. 5th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
Steve Da Pimp
You, Steve Eley, are the pimpest of all the pimps.

Sep. 5th, 2007 12:02 am (UTC)
You mentioned in an Escape Pod intro a while ago about how the best place to be at a con is in the bar because that's where you meet all the swell people. It sounds like the swellness factor goes way up when you have your family at the con with you.

DragonCon sounds great! I'll consider making the trek out there next year.

Happy anniversary to you and Anna.
Sep. 5th, 2007 01:39 am (UTC)
You looked like you certainly Had Fun. :)

Hope you have a day or two to recover from your "vacation".

Sep. 5th, 2007 01:53 am (UTC)
Yeah, your wife is hot in black. You're a lucky boy.
Sep. 5th, 2007 01:54 am (UTC)
Wow, I have no clue what it is you went to but it sure sounded like super fun times. And you have some pretty ladies too!

Nice boa.
Sep. 5th, 2007 03:44 am (UTC)
I think I am now going to have a hard time every time I listen to a Squonk story and not impulsivly say "You know Mrs. Twiddlechirp is damned hot!" Your wife looks nothing like I imagined, but all in a good way. I had this image of a pretty southern looking woman, not a black leather wearing drool worthy hottie, please tell her that she is amazing.

You look really happy in your pictures too, which I think is the best part, I think happiness is key.

and Alex and R2D2, how freaking cool.

I am jealous of you all. I have never been to a con, none, ever. Which is kinda sad considering how big a geek I am.
Sep. 5th, 2007 05:13 am (UTC)
Good times
Hey Steve,

Good to meet you at the con and to read your (amazingly coherent) account of your time there.
If I could write mine down like that, I would.

Sep. 5th, 2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
I KNEW I spied you guys in our party (Vernard's). I hadn't seen Minx since Conflation, but she makes an impression. :) Glad you could join us!
Sep. 5th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)
I've made the same mistake with a (probably different model) Zoom. It's a shame, they're generally so fool-proof, but nothing's me-proof I guess.

Cool reading about the con. Between your report and Resnick's, looks like I gotta make the six hour trek next year.

Sep. 5th, 2007 04:55 pm (UTC)
Crocodile Rocker

You were SO Elton John.

Nov. 14th, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
Wheee! Lots of fun!

I just friended you because I've been listening to Escape Pod for about 5 months now, and I love it, and I heard you mention this entry... Strange thing is, I've been LJ friends with Cunningminx for a while, and initially I thought it was cute you had a poly mate with the same name. Then I connected the dots. It's a really small world.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know I'm reading you.

Have fun!

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )