First, lets get the negatives out of the way:
1. Wil Wheaton once again didn't show up. Once again he had good reason. I do appreciate him not bringing something potentially infectious and being Patient Zero for Con Crud. I had heard comments about anyone inviting him to be a Guest of Honor from now on being fiscally irresponsible. Perhaps there should be a standing invitation and an insurance policy that would pay for things if he should ever actually show up.
2. The con suite was either brilliant or sucked depending on timing and expectations, it seems. Using the big restaurant space was good overall but being a big restaurant space there was an effect. Food is fuel and consider people as oxygen. The result of the easily accessible, big con suite space was that the fire roared and things often were burned through quickly. The only issue I had, and I believe it has been addressed, was the blocking off of everything (except fluids) while there was some preparation going on. Had the munchies been outside the exclusion zone (and why didn't anyone - including me - suggest that at the time I can only wonder) significant pressure would have been relieved.
3. Brazilian beef. If you were there, you know. If you weren't, it was probably just as well. I do appreciate the effort and the intent of the "you can go, we will serve everyone" message but delay would only have been increased further as far as anyone could tell. I know some of this is being addressed but I suspect that next year will be light for pre-registration and if it appears to be working the load will likely jump enough to become a problem again.
4. The size of things on the first floor was the size of things on the first floor. And nothing could be done about that without changing hotels, which is almost certainly happening for next year. The size was often rather small. This actually didn't affect me much as I only barely made it to any of the panels and then usually only so Orvan could deliver something.
5. No more four-part deliveries! The gag might have been funny, but the price/performance ratio was lousy from my end of things. I would need to really be convinced of things to even consider a three-parter now. Details on that and other things ACME later. Probably much later as I have many photos to process and hopefully will have a few more.
Second, at least a couple good things:
1. Thank you jer_ for that room assignment! This room was on the third floor where much of the larger con space was. It was near a stairwell so that elevator use could be minimized for 1st-3rd floor travel. It was the room at the end of a hallway so it was fairly quiet without being in a designated quiet zone and it made it easy for a somewhat vision-impaired ox to find the room without much fumbling around.
2. I, and Orvan, had a great time overall. Even the stuff I did that seemed not to work out turned out to work in a different way rather than simply fail. It doesn't really surprise me any more, but Orvan has more fun than I do.
Arrived Thursday night and was a bit uncertain of the room assignment upon check-in but as things progressed realized it was pretty much ideal.
I met up with some of the Penguicon folks and acquired and made arrangements to acquire a few items for Orvan to deliver. Jay drove all day (I had worked all night, so I was napping during much of the trip). A few of us went out on a beer run and got.. not lost as we knew where we were, just that for a few minutes we weren't where we wanted to be. I picked up some Anchor Porter (I have revised my opinion of Anchor products upwards since LibertyCon) and a tiny little bottle of Johnny Walker black label that would give me a piece of a story later in the convention. I discovered that I don't care for Johnny Walker black, at least straight up, so didn't have much of that..
Being on a night schedule and having the excitement of a convention or the anticipation it, I was up for some time. Longer than I had expected, anyway. I had expected to shift to a day schedule, not have much to do on the Thursday before the con, and up sleeping on what could pass for a normal schedule for one night. That did not happen.
Breakfast was at the nearby Big Boy which had the advantage of proximity. I did not expect to have any lunch as such and loaded up a bit. Okkay, more than a bit. It worked out. I didn't feel like I missed lunch even if I probably did. I don't recall any more.
Now, I know Orvan is more recognized than I am and I would be surprised if it were otherwise, but Orvan had a wedding to attend, sort of, and I wasn't on the guest list. (This is not a complaint - I tend to avoid formal affairs for what might seem an odd reason for a guy who wears an ox costume: I dislike wearing the uncomfortable clothing that tends to go with them.) Evidently folks had suggested Orvan deliver something during the wedding and the couple had approved this idea and then forgotten about it. Others did not forget. Those same others also very carefully Did Not Remind certain people of this.
So Orvan stood around in the hall probably causing some bewilderment as folks made their way into the room where the wedding was to take place. At hopefully the right time there was a cue to go in and that was done. There was a detectable "What's going on?" reaction at least until someone (Jer?) said "I think we have a ring delivery." or similar. The bride and groom each signed for their delivery and each was given a large paper bag with a huge ring in it (items supplied by sheryl67) that evidently went over well. Orvan didn't stick around, having done his part of things. I have seen photos of the big rings, but nothing more so far. At least I have read in a couple places that things went over well. Later I caught up with Jer and gave him a can of some dubious energy drink I'd found. This was a result of hearing of his affinity for energy drink and dubious versions thereof on a recent SMOScast. I'm not sure if it was me or Orvan that brought some ring-pops and flower-shaped lollipops to the wedding/reception area. I also had other lollipops that I and Orvan gave away through the weekend. I got lucky and didn't have direct experience of why this was a bad choice of candy for a place where I'd be walking around in fur. So, note to self: don't do that.
We had brought some spicy pickles, some spiced chocolate, and a couple loaves of homemade bread (one loaf with black pepper, one with cayenne) and then found out that there would be no hot sauce or chocolate panel. It was suggested that items be donated to the con suite, so that's what happened. I have no idea if anyone even touched any of that, though I suspect if nothing else the chocolate was consumed quickly.
I think there was a quick Orvan outing to deliver a 'Con Survival Kit' to Ops and then a bunch of stuff to folks at the wedding reception. This knocked down the size of the parcel stack rather well since there were four or five items, with an additional items provided not that much earlier. I had been concerned about just how busy Orvan would need to be. And then maybe something of a candy run with Cow Tales before things really began. Sometime in the afternoon I caught up with the tigress who was the real attention-grabber for the Opening Ceremonies delivery. Unfortunately I had not known of the Dr. Horrible bit and thus Orvan showed up before rather than after it. I must be one of the few folks who doesn't much care for the Dr. Horrible stuff. I know it's supposed to be what it is, but it feels to me like it's too much so. Ah well. Once that was over, the unusual delivery happened, with the provocative tigress getting Matt Arnold's attention. Amazingly, I have yet to see any photos or even written accounts of this beyond a note that a delivery happened. This surprises me. Did nobody take photos of this?
I did manage to get something of a supper and Orvan had at least one more outing, making some deliveries and showing up at a few room parties, one of them twice: once for a proper delivery and once just as himself, such as he is. Later on I stopped in at a few. The night grew much, much longer than I had expected but as I was used to a night schedule it didn't bother me much.
There were three big memorable events and two were Orvan deliveries. One was actually four. Matt Arnold had come with a four piece puzzle for Jane McGonigal and figured it would be best if the pieces were each delivery separately. Probably not as close in time as they were, but it was spread out over a couple hours. To put it mildly, this was a pain. That Jane had panels in those hours and was therefore easily found helped greatly, but it was still something I hope to avoid in the future. The other was sort of that in reverse, where Orvan caught with four people at once. This, of course, made things rather easy and with as many deliveries as there were, that was a good thing.
And there was the live for the Brazilian Beef. My original plan was to get in early, eat, and then have Orvan do his "EAT CANDY, NOT CATTLE" shtick. It didn't work out that way. The line lasted a long, long time and announcements that all would be served eventually didn't allay concerns for most about when (Leaving to come later and move to the back of the line? How long would it take? As it was, I should have, but that's only obvious in retrospect. And reports from later diners were of getting "salted briquettes.") Also, I think I missed mightyix whisky tasting while in line or after as I wanted Orvan out for a bit before I attended any of the room parties -- I wound up eating late enough that I don't believe there were any panels going on.
On the other hand, the line was more than just a line as it might have been many places. Assorted costumers did show up and provide some semblance of entertainment, though it was weird to see Captain America and Fidel Castro not at odds. And I stood in line near the Pope. Okkay, near a Pope. When I got cold, my place was saved while I went to get my jacket. When I did that, I also grabbed the last of the Cow Tales and distributed them to the folks near and mainly behind me in the line. "I can't offer you the beef, but you can at least have the tail." When we got near , but not yet to, the serving area I heard a few stories or bits of stories that John "Mad Dog" Hall was telling. At one point he said something about wishing he had a whisky or some such. I remembered the little bottle of Johnny Walker black label that was in my jacket and held it out to him. Pleasantly surprised, he took it and drank some. I was tempted to him to keep it but I'm sure I could have gotten a word in. Jay wound up drinking what remained in the bottle, since I was not going to drink before an Orvan appearance and didn't much care for the stuff anyway.
Orvan did finally appear at a few room parties, not formally delivering things, but there were a couple informal deliveries. I hope the folks who got the ACME Ale like it, I didn't see whatever might have become of it. I am wondering if this bit is another I should drop. I don't expect to have any myself, but it'd be nice to see it or hear about it. Also, Orvan provided some amusement to the Roving (though I don't recall seeing it rove) Pirate Party when he showed up with a treasure chest filled with chocolate coins. I think Orvan was out longer than I had expected.
A couple interesting or odd things happened. One was a gal asked Orvan if he was a bull or a steer. To answer he mooed in low pitch and motioned or nodded 'yes' and then 'no' motions as after he mooed in a higher pitch thus making it clear he was all there. A couple guys saw Orvan and at least one had to get a photo with him as, "This is as close as we're gonna get to the Chicago Bulls." Orvan missed his elevator for that picture, and didn't mind.
Later, I went to the room parties and looked around some. There were a few that were loud or dark and loud, and they didn't do much for me. The quieter ones seemed much to me. People could actually talk to each other and this was interesting. I met up with the fellow who had the green badger and heard some of this construction technique. I'm not sure if he was disappointed or just stunned when I found a bit of "lightweight" construction to be heavy or at least heavier than what I was used to. There was a fellow who lamented the general American idea of British comedy being limited to Monty Python and Benny Hill. I asked him what he thought of Last of the Summer Wine was told that while he didn't fancy Nora Batty, he understood the idea.
The night became quite late, or early, again. A few folks were heading to the pool or such and asked me if I cared to join them. I did, though not for long as evidently we got there after things had supposedly closed but we hadn't been told until we'd been in the water for a few minutes. That was disappointing. I'm not sure now if I gave up after that or went out again. Either is possible.
A couple notes of the night and of the next day: I wore Orvan's cowbell (which he wears at times when not delivering - and there were a LOT of "more cowbell" comments) as hint of dual identity. A few folks made the connection, and many had "more cowbell" comments. I told a few people that I was "borrowing this from a friend I'm never seen with." and also, "There's only one of me and I'm both of them." These lines provided either amusement or confusion.
I slept rather late, which given how late I got in was hardly a surprise. I managed to get breakfast in the con suite, a bit to my surprise. Orvan had one last delivery in the morning and all the deliveries were finally taken care of. There was no big item or surprise, at least not from ACME, at closing ceremonies this year.
There was an 'Apocalypse Cow' t-shirt for sale in the dealer's room and I had pondered it before. Now I bought it. Orvan had been wearing the "The terrible secret behind whipped cream" shirt the day before and I thought he should have something else to wear when not in delivery uniform. It seemed to work well enough. The dealer who sold the shirt was of course amused or at least appreciative. Also, Orvan was giving away the last of the candy, which consisted of lollipops and chocolate coins. I am always surprised when people ask if the candy is free, but this time I was more surprised that Orvan wound up with a button (from the Smithee folks) and a couple small posters.
This year I attended closing ceremonies as myself and it was almost strange to do so. We hadn't planned on much of anything after, but wound up invited to a gathering at Sal's new place for the evening and we accepted. Had we known of this earlier, we might have held on to the bread, pickles, and chocolate and brought them to this gathering where we know the spicy stuff would have had some appreciation. We ate well and perhaps too well. There were a few folks doing board breaking by hand and Jay tried it and eventually succeeded. I tried it a couple times and decided to preserve my hand. Someone broke the board I had tried, but it took them a couple attempts and I was told it was harder than average so I don't feel too bad about not breaking it myself. I'd have tried on another, but I only saw one whole board left and didn't like the look of it very much. Maybe another time.
I fell asleep as folks did some tabletop gaming. I woke up and watched some of it. My opinion of such gaming is pretty much unchanged: it's a time sink and not much more. We stayed until things ended or got close enough so as to give a couple folks a ride back. I went to bed earlier than the last several days and I'm sure I fell asleep quickly, not even doing the usual Sunday night at con pre-packing.
The trip home. Much like Thursday, I slept on and off through this and was glad to have Monday night off. I almost recovered. If I hadn't had to cover for someone Tuesday night I probably would have at least had this written up much sooner.
Someday I'll actually attend a panel or two at Penguicon. I did that a few years ago, and meant to this year. Ah well. There's always next year, right?
Details of the ACME deliveries will happen eventually, but it will be a while. I'm still waiting for some photos and have a bunch to edit. Also, I have RCFM to get ready for, and I haven't really started on that yet.