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MIDSOUTHCON 2003: MidSouthCon Index || Friday || SATURDAY || Sunday

MidSouthCon: A Multi-Part Story (With Pictures!)

Part II:  Saturday, March 29, 2003


Well, so the next morning. I dragged myself out of bed at 8am, showered and dressed, and went downstairs.


I figure I'll get some coffee in the con suite, see if there's anything breakfasty to munch on. Turns out they've got bagels and danish and OJ. Pretty cool. I snag a piece of danish, pour myself a cup of coffee, and head to Ballroom B for the cloning panel.

Which never happens. No one is there, no one ever turns up. The room itself was so aggressively air-conditioned you could have stored meat there--in other words, just a few degrees cooler than the night before, when we'd shivered through the meandering discussion of just what constitutes intelligence (a fascinating topic made dull and simpleminded, probably by the exhaustion of the participants). Dramliza showed up, and we both wondered what happened to the clones. Instead we went to the dealers room and I bought a book she'd been recommending--Lee and Miller's Liaden omnibus, from Meisha Merlin. We had a nice conversation with the owner of the company, he was quite interesting. I also made the mistake of heading over to the buttons and earrings again. I looked at them, but decided I wouldn't buy anything. There were some lovely long ones with what looked like amber beads. Yes, the lady told me, those were amber. She'd gone into a pawnshop looking for interesting things to make into jewelry, and the guy behind the counter had said, when they asked about some long strands of polished yellow-brown stones they saw in his case, "I don't know, the guy said they were some kind of tree sap."

The lady tried to explain to him about amber, and when she was done he said, "So what you're saying is, it's some kind of tree sap."

They got a good deal on the amber.

Anyway. Those ones were too long, and I wasn't buying anyway.

At this point we were really just marking time until Les Johnson's Interstellar Travel lecture and the book signing at 1pm. We decided to drop in on the Education in the Future panel. Jane Fancher was there, and a bunch
of other folks. CJ was supposed to be, but I don't recall that she got there. It started off meaning to discuss future educational methods and turned into a bunch of teachers complaining about administrative policies that didn't let them teach. It was interesting to hear that side of the issue, so we sat and listened but pretty much kept our mouths shut.

[Dramliza:  Saturday AM was a 3-hr seminar on education, and as haut said, they went off on the usual topics. CJ sat in for the 2nd hour and one of the other panelist, Beverly Hale, who knew her from Oklahoma City, said she'd met some of CJC’s Latin students. She told us they all said CJ, whom they referred to as “Ms. Cherryh, Ma’am,” had greatly influenced their lives. I believe it!]

Interstellar Travel was, as anticipated, completely excellent. He talked about propulsion technologies that are more or less within our grasp that can make the trip to Alpha Centauri in, say, a thousand
group costumes years. Compare that to Voyager, which will take seventy five thousand to get that far. They're talking about exotic propulsion methods that might even reduce the trip to a couple of hundred--doesn't help anyone who needs to be there next week, of course, but still amazing. I can't say enough good about Les Johnson, he was entertaining and educational, and just a great speaker all around. Anyone who gets a chance to go to a con where he's talking, make sure and attend his talks.

There was one distraction during his talk, though. We're sitting there looking at more nifty slides with cool animations (oooh! Watch the twenty meter square solar sail deploy! Aaaaah!) when the entire room swiveled their heads in unison towards the door. We'd all heard a distinctive sound, one we all knew, one that was unmistakeable, that we couldn't ignore. From the sound, it was absolutely, unarguably clear that Darth Vader was walking down the hall.

You saw those stormtrooper costumes above. The guys in them were really nice--they had a table in the hall with a sign, "Got a camera? We love to have our picture taken!" And they sure did.
signing They posed so nicely for me, and I didn't even ask them to, I just wanted a pic of the cool costumes. Well, the stormtroopers weren't the only ones. There was also Darth Vader. My pic isn't the greatest, so I hope Dramliza got a better one, or my friend, who had actual film in her camera so we'll have to wait for it to develop.

The same group (including Lord Vader) gave a panel on costuming and special effects. I didn't attend, I just peeked in and took a picture.


So. Then it was time for signings! We got in line. We got our books signed. What else is there to say? Please forgive Dramliza for looking so worshipful.

These pictures are smaller than the originals, which are huge. I have every intention of uploading them so folks can get full-sized, uncropped copies (especially Dramliza!) but I just haven't done the uploading yet.


signing Haut’s friend was first in line and I was smiling at the adoring, no it really was worshipful, look on her face as she stepped closer to Herself. Unfortunately, just as I was about to snap the perfect shot, two people stepped right in front of me. I asked them to please step aside so I could take a picture, but when they did, it was too late. So, I got a nice shot of haut's friend's back, and nice shots of CJ and haut. Hmmm, haut looks somewhat pleased as well. And what a lovely earring! 

When they were done I went over and got in line behind several dealers that were carrying about 50 books each. As I stood there waiting, and CJ signed and signed, the man next to Selina Rosen gave me a free book---you can see him in haut’s picture above---then Selina was asking me to buy one of hers. I told her I already owned two and that I intended to bring them for her to sign but hadn’t been able to find them as I was running out the door. She asked which two I had, I told her, and then she told me specifically which book I should buy and I did (scroll down here for CJC's Common Convention Courtesy). Anyway, I like them.

selina Selina was sticking out her tongue in the first picture I took (this was right after she read), but she said, “Oh no, now there will be another picture of me on the Internet with my tongue sticking out.” So, I took another and am tastefully posting the second shot---Selina in mid-laugh. She is also in the picture above next to CJ.

cjc Here is a picture I took just as someone had the nerve to step in front of the camera. We tried to be polite and not snap pictures throughout the panels as she was speaking, and this was the result of waiting until it was over and everyone was getting up. That's okay, every little bit counts.


After the signing, Dramliza decided it might be a good idea to actually spend some time with her daughter, so they went off shopping. My friend had recently wanted to try some gaming, so she went to the game room and became a warrior woman named Ilisidi. And me, I went to the dealers room. Because in the hallway, the ladies who were selling them saw me in the hallway. "Hey," the one said, "you were looking at those amber ones--but they were too long. I found some other ones, they're just your style, come look at them." So I did.
signing It was truly scary. They were, indeed, just my style. How could I help myself? I bought them. They had a cool asymmetrical thing going--one side had an earcuff with a chain, and the actual earring part was longer, with a pendant thingy on the end, and the other side was just a plain string of a few amber beads without the earcuff or the pendant. Coolness itself. I also got a pair of lapis ones. I knew that if I ever walked by there again, I'd probably be forced to buy the amethyst ones, and the ones that just hooked around your ear, and the ones I didn't go near that table again. In fact, I only went into the dealers room again very briefly on Sunday morning to buy Selina Rosen's book, and I got right out as soon as I could. Occassion of sin, and all that.


So anyhow, I'm now on my own, since my friend is still smiting bad guys and generally kicking butt in the gaming room and Dramliza and daughter are shopping. I went to Crime and Detective Fiction in SF. That was a very interesting discussion, they ended up talking about the difficulty of selling cross-genre work to larger publishing houses, how they're kind of locked in to certain categories and have trouble selling anything that doesn't fit, even if it's great. And how certain readers (not to mention bookstores) won't even consider reading something if it's marked "science fiction." There was one book they talked about (the owner of Meisha Merlin who we'd talked with that morning was on the panel and I think it was something he published) that they were careful not to put any category at all on the spine of the book, because otherwise it wouldn't have sold, even though there's an entire sub-category of mystery that's very science-fictional--it doesn't matter, the people who read those just don't read science fiction and that's that. And, to be fair, they also talked about how it went the other way--lots of folks read SF stories that are also mysteries but won't read mysteries, even if they're Sfnal.

PRIVACY ISSUES:  Now and in the Future

I went and grabbed more coffee, and came back to the same room for the Privacy Issues Now and in the Future panel, with CJ. It was fairly interesting, with panelists pointing out that there's no clear cut "privacy is always good" thing, and of course a few political issues came up from people who had agendas of their own, but they weren't able to completely hijack the discussion. Dramliza had gotten back by this point, and she told me I should stay for Selina Rosen's reading.



Saturday afternoon, Haut and I attended a panel practically in nose-to-nose proximity with Our Hero (bookmark for later). When it ended, we kept our seats for the next scheduled event: Selina’s reading from her new book Recycled, which is coming out in May. It's hilariously funny (and wonderfully vulgar) and I'd love to have an audiobook of her reading the whole thing! I’ve read the first book in the series and so was familiar with the characters and as CJC says on her website, the book makes you laugh out loud.

Selina is one of those people you like the instant you see her, and the only thing funnier than her book turned out to be Selina herself. Later that evening, we were in the “con suite” (place of beer, food, and conversation) with a few new friends and Selina came in with her friend Lynn, grabbed a beer and joined us. She treated us to some True Stories of past conventions and showed us the very best method of crushing empty beer cans against your head---we practically suffocated we were laughing so hard. (Ask  haut about the beer. :D ) When it was apparent we might not survive any more humor, and knowing where our hearts lay, she got up and said, “I’m going to go find Carolyn and you’re welcome to come along . . .”

Besides meeting Ms. Cherryh (and, of course, meeting haut!), the best thing about the convention was that Selina was there and included us in her weekend. My cheeks are still tired from laughing.

[Hautdesert: It was, as Dramliza said over in Perplexed (a forum from the message board--CKTC), laugh-out-loud funny, laced with profanity, and quite vulgar. I loved it. Afterwards, someone in the room asked, "So, this is a YA novel?" Someone else asked if it was true what he'd heard, that Disney had optioned the movie rights.]


Time to get ready for dinner! Which was a buffet. The first actual meal of the day! The food was good, we sat at a table with Glen Cook, who was a good dinner companion. I've never read any of his books, but I think I ought to give him a shot. We could have fought to sit by CJ, but figured there was no reason to be greedy, since we were going to the kaffeklatch, and the rest of these poor souls probably weren't. There were speeches afterwards, which we couldn't hear well because there was no microphone. The only person we could hear was Michael Sheard. The schedule had three different panels scheduled at 8, but since two of them were listed as being in the same room, and the third was in a different one but the person doing it was also listed as doing one of the others at the same time, we figured it wasn't worth leaving dinner early to sort through the confusion, even though a panel on writing realistic combat scenes sounded like heaven.

imperial guard So supper was over. We decided to go have a beer in the con suite. We sat down and started talking to some gamers, got started talking about R A Salvatore and a list of other authors in that vein. Another guy, a dealer, came over and we discovered that my friend had bought her dice from him in the dealers room that morning. He said that he keeps  something like ten different kinds of purple dice in stock, since ninety percent of women gamers buy purple dice. His taste in literature was a tad more sophisticated than the folks we'd been talking to, and he wrote down a list of books for his to-read list, including our recommendation of The Gate of Ivrel. We'd have evangelized some more, but then Selina Rosen came in with her friend Lynn, and they sat down with us.
Selina Rosen is the f***ing funniest person I have ever f***ing met. Every other f***ing word was f***. She told the f***ing funniest stories I've ever heard. We laughed until we hurt. I regretted that I hadn't brought more underwear than I had--it was that funny. But eventually they had somewhere else to go, and we went back upstairs to change clothes--my friend and I had actually put on skirts for dinner, and wanted back into jeans, and it was my intention to attend the masquerade--the costume contest.


Now, as you've seen, there were some pretty impressive costumes at the con. Some of the best, it turned out, weren't entered, but they were still cool. There were some drells (that was how the Salvatore conversation had started) and a few Klingons, and some number of unidentifiable creatures. I didn't get photos of most of them. But we figured there'd be photo opportunities at the contest, and that there were.

[CKTC Edit: I'm using links for many of the costume pictures instead of putting them directly on this page 'cause there's a TON of them.  Heh!  Links will open a new browser window. ]  

The MC, Cullen Johnson, called out each entrant's number and the name of whatever character they were dressed as. There were several that were...a reach. I'm still trying to figure out which work of F/SF/H The Brother-In-Law from Hell came from.

There was someone who put wings on a lizard and called it a dragonfly.

Someone dressed in a neon wig and said he was the drag queen from outer space (to which Cullen remarked, "Divine has nothing to worry about.")

None of the stormtroopers entered, but there was this very impressive Imperial Guard.  Made it himself, so we heard.

There was also a werewolf. This one came out kind of blurry. 

That one, we heard later in the con suite, won Best of Show. The next day in a panel, I was explaining to someone (Dramliza, I think, who I don't think came to the  masquerade--it's scary how fuzzy my memory of Saturday night is....) about meeting the owner of that one in the con suite and getting to see close up the very realistic tongue and teeth in the costume head, and how the woman who wore it had made it herself. This really creepy guy, who we'd noticed at several other panels, turned around and asked me if I'd ever been to a furry convention, because costumes there were often really amazingly elaborate. I smiled my waitress smile and said no, I hadn't, and wasn't that amazing?

Don't know what a furry convention is? Well, as far as I can tell, furries are people who are really into anthropomorphic animals, sometimes dress as them, and I get the feeling there can occasionally be a...well, a sexual component to it. However, I didn't turn that up on my googling to find a good link for you, except that one webring requires that the page linked to in the ring doesn't itself have any sexually explicit material. Make of that what you will. I only know they exist because when doing a newsgroup search for Cherryh (as one sometimes does) invariably there's a list of books posted to a furry newsgroup that includes the Chanur books.

Anyway. There were....I forget the names, from Nightmare Before Christmas.

There was a giant spider.

A father and son did a brief sketch in which a Jedi father discovered his son had secretly enrolled at Hogwarts instead of training to be a jedi.

There was...another Star Wars character, whose name I don't remember [Edit: Boussh the Bounty Hunter --CKTC], but you'll all recognize her.

I have no idea what this woman was thinking, and no memory of what she called herself.

jango fett5 I never did get Jango Fett with his helmet on. Another home-made costume.

This was probably the most impressive costume, the last one, Cullen said, number 21, The Invisible Man.

I neglected to mention--you recall the three year old jedi from day one--she was there, too, but I didn't snap the pic, since it was the same as above only with a blue plastic light saber. She was cute as a bug, and a very sweet little girl. While she was coming off the stage, one of the storm troopers in the back yelled, "She's on the wrong side, but she's my daughter and I still love her!"

Oh, and there was a late entrant, Cinderella.


So that was that, and it was time to head back to the con suite and have a few more beers. My friend and I walked up to the buffet table and got some, turned around to find...Selina Rosen, Lynn, and the other guy from earlier, sitting at exactly the same table as before. Laughter ensued. "You changed your f***ing clothes!" observed Selina. Dramliza showed up eventually, and we were treated to another round of hilarious, profanity-studded stories. At one convention, she'd mooned the game room. I don't think I'll repeat the one about the mens room and the friend of hers in leather pants, or the one about fencing in the hotel hallway at three am. She did moon the table next to us, and then threw paper airplanes at another one. Just as we were no longer sure we'd survive the laughing, she suggested we go find Carolyn. Hey, she twisted our arm! But as she stood up, she swung her arms around and knocked the cieling. "F***ing low ceilings!" she said. "Or else it's my f***ing long monkey arms." Now, by itself it wasn't all that funny. But you really have to understand the cumulative effect of spending that much time with Selina Rosen. And in my defense, I had just taken the last swig of my beer preparatory to throwing the bottle away, and I heard the last line just as I was beginning to swallow.

[Dramliza:  Btw, haut, you and I did have another beer---your friend had a sprite. :D And part of the humor, i.e., "my long monkey arms," was in the delivery! :lol ]

"Haut, you f***ing spewed, didn't you!" Selina observed. The plate of nachos in front of me was ruined--no big loss, it was headed for the trash anyway. But I can personally attest to the fact that carbonated liquid doesn't feel good when it goes through your nose.

We never did run into CJ, and ended up....well, I'm not entirely sure about the order of events after this. I know we spent some more time in the con suite, and have a vague memory of the entire table, including some confused but good-natured young men who'd never read Cherryh in their lives, yelling "Baji-Naji!!!!!" That cleared the room pretty quick. Dramliza and I went up to post to the [message] board.  We briefly entertained the notion of posting Selina-style, but decided the joke would fall flat for those who hadn't had the experience in person. Instead we gave you the post in Perplexed, which we thought was pretty damn hilarious. We were doing it on the hotel's web tv access, which really sucked muddy rocks. It took about five minutes for the thing to register any key stroke, so Dramliza typed it like h...................e.................l.................l............o..... and then the caps key got stuck, but backspacing was such a pain, we decided to leave all the weird typos in (that double f was an artifact of the keyboard, not the beer, but the beer made it really, really amusing.)

[CKTC Edit:  See excerpt of said posts here.]

I think we tried to stay awake after that and have another beer, but it was three am and we'd had it, and we had to be up in time for our nine am audience!!!! So we went to bed.

NEXT:  Sunday's Events....