We flew out with relatively little hassle on a very full plane and arrived at our hotel, the Grand Regency. Christine Quinones was already there, and she gave us a quick summary about what was where in town. We followed her to the convention center, as Fed Ex left a message to say that they couldn't find Josh's work address in Manhattan.
I called and tried to straighten this out. The woman I spoke to seemed to think I'd given her crucial missing information and said that my package would be delivered tomorrow. It wasn't. Have I mentioned that I am not happy with Fed Ex? This is the second time it's had trouble delivering my package to he correct address.
Registration, fortunately, proved much smoother, and I learned that Neil Gaiman is coming out with 2 new novels, Graveyard Folk, and something that begins with "A" and is a lot longer, about 800 pages or so. Someone had an advanced reading copy.
We met up with Avram Grumer and Jo Walton. She and Farah Mendelsohn were not impressed by how the convention was handling disabled issues. Specifically, Farah needed a wheelchair, and was given the phone number of some place to call. She was relieved to learn that the rest of us also thought that this was unacceptable.
I think she peeled off, and the rest of us moved to the dealers' room, if slowly, with digressions and conversations. Jo led me to Elise Matthesen's table, where I successfully passed the glass beads that had been languishing on my shelf to Elise, who will actually use them and trade them to other people who will use them. Elise grinned and said, "Treasure!"
By now, it was about 3 pm, and Josh and I spend the next 3 hours in the dealers' room. Then, we wandered out, hooking up with Avram for dinner. We went through the rain to Chopsticks and Sushi, a lovely Chinese-Japanese restaurant between the convention center and our hotel. We'd planned to do half a duck, lamb, and shrimp. Alas, they were out of lamb, so we had a couple of sushi rolls in place. It was all quite good.
Then, we went to the hotel room to drop off purchases and pick up umbrellas. Josh decided to forgo the musical instruments, given the rain. We went to the Sheraton, where the gaming, the parties, and the filking were. After light party crawling, Josh and I went filking, and we confirmed that we could stash his instruments at the Sheraton, so long as we coordinated with Kathleen.
Kathleen gave us two filk ribbons: "I Filked a Mile High" and "Calm Down, It's Only R and R Flat". I remember someone sang "Dawson's Christian", and Josh and I danced to "Paper Moon", which Harold Stein played from the CD. I think Josh and I did "Denmark 1943".
The next day, we checked out the nearby delis, doing an egg and lox sandwich and a pastrami sandwich and a brownie from one. The brownie was fine. The egg and lox was mediocre. The pastrami was acceptable. We also picked up mountain bark, which is chocolate with mixed nuts, and a frozen chocolate banana. It's not so good just frozen. Lesson: Wait an hour or two.
Perusing the program book, I saw that Lois McMaster Bujold was working on a new Vorkosigan novel. However, we had a more pressing event to attend: the art show.
11:30 AM: Art Show Docent Tour with Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Ctein
I have problems doing the art show at conventions. Partly, this is because there is so much else to do. Partly, as with museums, I tend to get bored quickly, as I'm not all that sure what I'm looking at, or why it's important. Museum trips work better when I'm with someone knowledgeable.
This is true of the art show as well. John Hertz, I think, is the person who set up the first Docent Tours, with exactly this problem in mind. Josh and I took such a tour at LACon in Anaheim, back in 2009. We went on the tour that Teresa and Ctein did, and we found that this was an excellent way to hit the highlights of the art show.
So, we made sure to go on one of their tours this time, and we talked Paul Estin into coming along. Avram, Chris, and several other folks were present as well. John Hertz joined us for part of the tour, and urged people to go on more than one tour at the convention, as everyone leading a tour will emphasize different things. Teresa and Ctein noted that every tour they did, even at the same art show, was different.
According to my notes, some of the highlights of the art show were:
Raku Ray Guns, I think by West Magoon. These were really cool. I think I remember learning that raku uses a sort of explosive technique, and that's what makes the end product so shiny.
Vincent Villafranca's works in brass. The detail work on these sculptures was amazing, as well it should have been. As someone noted, if there's no need to look at a sculpture from all angles, it might as well be a painting or other flat form.
A tapestry from a digital photo of acrylic painting.
There was some discussion of translating between media.
A lovely diorama, with recognizeable filk books on the miniature bed. Someone told me that one of them was a Westerfilk collection.
Mobiles that moved.
Something called Caves of Catamara, though I have no idea what that was now.
Angela Newman's work, somewhat Lolitaesque, with big eyes. Our guides commented on artists who identified work as "digital", saying: "Digital is not a media. It is a technique." To give information on media proper, one needs to explain what the work is and how to take care of it.
Anne Beck's pictures of mice, spoofing various well known works of art. These worked well. In contrast, another artist working with hamsters did not do as well.
Mark Roland's etchings. Color etchings are rare, due to the complexity involved, but worth buying from him. His prices were quite good.
John Picacio's work. This was the high point of the tour for me. Some of his work did not look its best, because it was made to be reproduced as cover art. The colors were chosen with this in mind, so that when reproduced, the colors one actually saw on the cover were better than what one saw at the art show. But, there was one amazing three-dimensional tryptych that worked. I am not very good at appreciating art in general, but I could tell that this one wasn't simply good; it was amazing. I asked what made it so good. Ctein immediately explained, in detail, some of what made it wonderful. There was just enough green in one corner to pick up the green in the diagnoally opposite corner. The purple did similar things. There were faces where the artist wanted to draw the eye. The entire work kept moving the viewer's attention around, guiding it from point to point. There was one place where one might expect a face, but it was not necessary to draw the eye, and no face appeared. Or at least, that's what I remember of the comment. The picture is intended to appear in thirds on the three books of a trilogy. I think that this was Greg Bear's trilogy and that the first book is City at the End of Time, but I could be misremembering.
John Harris's work. He evokes details and makes you think they are there when they aren't.
Stephen Vincent Johnson's parody of Thomas Kincaid's work.
The meaning of "giclee", which really should not be used to describe the media of any work.
William O'Conner's work. My notes just say: "Mixed. Limited palette is good."
Stephanie Danielle's work. Good landscapes, but there was a cheesecake rant.
Someone's unintentionally creepy art, with people who had "There's nobody home here" expressions. The two pictures with kids were particularly creepy.
After the tour, we scattered in different directions. I went to the dealer's room to do some shopping, and then went to a couple of panels.
4:00 PM: Tragic Flaw to Achilles Heel - Every Hero's Weakness. Farah Medelsohn (m), Pat Cadigan, Teresa Crater. There was at least one other person, male. I fell asleep during this one, though I did ask about making heroes so flawed that they were no longer heroes. Sometimes this is fine, of course. At other times, well, I don't want to read about schmucks. I loved the movie Double Indemnity, where the protagonist is deeply flawed and not really a hero -- but highly competent and interesting. The counterpart to this character in Body Heat is a schmuck. I don't care about him or anyone else in the movie. To the degree it works for me at all, it works because the femme fatale struck me as being, symbolically, a siren, La Belle Dame Sans Merci. But, she's not the protagonist. The movie The Last Seduction has a similar character who is the protagonist, and that movie did work for me because, while she was definitely no hero, she was fascinating to watch.
This was one of the panels where the acoustics in the room were terrible. Also, some of the panelists got so involved in the conversation that they'd turn to look at their fellow panelists, and forget to talk into the microphone. This was a problem recurring at irregular intervals throughout the convention.