Cthulhu Coffee had such a grand time at CONvergence 2001 that Ted and I (Melissa) decided that we should try out another Minnesota convention, Diversicon. We decided to just go inspect it, just so we could relax and enjoy a convention without having to tend to a room party the entire time. Neither of us had attended this convention before, but had heard a few good things through the grapevine, and so there we were... or there I was, as the case turned out to be.
But before I begin to explain, I would like to point out quickly that the official Diversicon site is here. I would also like to say, in brief, that Diversicon is a very fun and quite relaxing diversion, a far cry from the noise, craziness, and antics of CONvergence.
Now, without further ado, here is my tale of Diversicon 2001.
08032001 This particular tale begins on a Friday, one of those broiling hot and humid ones often found in Minnesota in the middle of the summer. Ted and I had decided a while ago to attend Diversicon, just to see what it was like.
The day went something like this:
1:00 PM: I arrive home from a half-day at the office. I begin laundry and minor preparations for the convention. I am planning to be at the convention around 3:00 PM. I wait for Ted to call.
2:30 PM: I discover that one load of laundry, the one with the clothes I plan to wear, never had a cleaning agent added. Start over.
3:00 PM: Ted calls; he is home from work, but needs to run errands.
3:05 PM: I begin waxing my legs out of boredom.
3:30 PM: My laundry is finally finished and only slightly suspicious-smelling. I get dressed and wait for Ted to call. I begin watching Indian Summer on cable, which is like The Big Chill at summer camp with Bill Paxton sporting long hair and Sam Raimi, of all people, as comic relief.
4:00 PM: Ted calls; he is finally home.
4:15 PM: I pick up Ted and we strike out across Minneapolis rush hour for Diversicon.
4:45 PM: We arrive at the Holiday Inn Express at Bandana Square, St. Paul, Minnesota.
4:55 PM: We finally find the entrance to the Holiday Inn Express at Bandana Square, St. Paul, Minnesota.
4:56 PM: We are finally standing at the registration table. There is one person at the table and no one else in sight. The hotel is very, very cool; it is built inside an old train depot, and the architect preserved everything he/she could about the original building. The train tracks still run through the lobby.
Very neat, but there still was no one else in sight. Ted spooked.
So before we plunked down $40 each for registration, we asked to see a program. Lots of panels, but nothing that engaged Ted. Then the last page of the program listed all of the preregistrations. Total: 108.
Keep in mind that the two of us are used to the likes of CONvergence, which boasted of 1,501 attendees during its first year. Ted balked.
I reasoned with Ted. "Let's think about it over dinner." Despite the small size, I was still willing to give Diversicon a chance. But I could tell that Ted was getting fonder of just spending the weekend at home.
So, we handed the program back without registering, and Ted mumbled something about dinner to the expectant volunteer at the table. As we walked out, we heard the volunteer greet somebody else... in Esperanto. Ted practically bolted out the door.
5:00 PM: We strike out across rush hour traffic in search of a restaurant. In transit, we decide on Figlio's in Uptown Minneapolis.
5:30 PM: We are sitting in very ugly side-street traffic in south Minneapolis.
5:45 PM: We have moved all of five blocks.
6:00 PM: We move two more blocks and are almost to our destination, only to find out that Hennipen has been blocked off for the Uptown Art Fair. With that crowd, there was no way we were getting into Figlio's that night. Plan B: Doolittle's Air Cafe.
6:15 PM: We are at Doolittle's, a mere three miles away from Ted's house, where we started. I had put 30 miles on my car. We eat stupendously greasy and therefore yummy red meat.
6:50 PM: I drop Ted off at his house.
7:15 PM: I am back in St. Paul at the hotel. There is no one at the registration table, and there wasn't throughout the night. Luckily, that didn't prove to be a problem. Nobody was looking at badges, anyway.
The convention seemed to be much healthier than it was earlier. Many people were milling about, and I felt good about my decision to come back and attend.
Almost immediately, I ran into my buddy Steve McKillen. Imagine Beetlejuice on crack cocaine. That's a fairly accurate description of Steve. He's full of strange voices and a cracked sense of humor. Quite fun, really.
Anyway, it turns out that he's the only person I know, so I glommed onto him for a while to see who he wound up talking to. Soon, I am chatting with an anime fan named Kevin and his daughter, Melody. Steve eventually wandered off and went home (apparently, he had been awake since 3:00 AM and had run out of fuel), so I hung around Kevin for a while until the Sex and Death panel started at 10:00 PM. How could I pass up Sex and Death?
The Sex and Death panel was lead by Catherine Lundoff and featured Pam Keesey and John Calvin Rezmerski. Unfortunately, the Year in Review panel in the adjacent room was very loud, and I found it very hard to listen to and follow the Sex and Death conversations. Plus, it was about this time that my body decided it was tired. I kind of floated throughout the whole thing.
11:00 PM: The Sex and Death panel ends. I remember something about serial killers, but that's about it.
11:05 PM: Hey, they're playing Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb in the Krushenko's party room! Way cool. I've never seen it all the way through.
12:38 PM: I have just sat through Dr. Strangelove for the first time. Peter Sellers died too early.
I emerged from Krushenko's to find that the convention had died down to only a few people here and there. I decided to call it a night and walked out of the hotel to my car.
Hmm. Full moon. No wonder people were driving so badly that day.
08042001 8:30 AM: I crawl out of bed and take a shower.
9:00 AM: Ted decides we should go out to breakfast.
9:15 AM: We are at Perkins, eating breakfast.
10:00 AM: I head home to change clothes from yesterday.
10:05 AM: I hit the road for the convention.
10:30 AM: As I am driving by the Hiawatha exit on I-94, I suddenly remember that I need to get measured for a bridesmaid's dress, an errand I missed the day before.
11:00 AM: I find the dress alteration place, and I reluctantly get measured. I try not to look at the numbers the woman is writing down.
11:30 AM: I finally arrive back at Diversicon and lo and behold, there is somebody at the registration desk. I plunk down my $40 and finally get a badge.
11:45 AM: Kevin walks by and hands me a floppy disc full of Ranma fan fiction. Neat!
Noon: The Biohorror Workshop begins. How could I miss out on something with the word Biohorror in it? Besides, Paul attended the Biohorror panel at CONvergence 2001 and was very excited about it. So there I was, in Krushenko's again, at the Biohorror Workshop.
The workshop was very, very interesting. Basically, we were all discussing the risks of biotechnology in film and literature, so our discussion ran the ranks from the likes of Frankenstein to Giant Bug Movies to Toxic Avenger to Outbreak to... Fascinating stuff. (If your interest is piqued, check out biohorror.com.) Even better, the panel guests were extremely intelligent and have obviously put a lot of thought into this subject. The moderator, Emily Pullins, was absolutely fascinating.
1:00 PM: The Biohorror Workshop gets kicked out of Krushenko's by a Star Trek panel. Emily comments to John Calvin Rezmerski that she would like to continue the conversation, and invites other people along, including me. Emily, John and I wind up at a table in the lobby, chatting about cautionary tales of biological terror, common themes, and other pleasant things. Then Emily embarked on the tale of a real-life example: Bt corn. Apparently, she works with an organization that is pressuring for tighter controls on genetically engineered foods, and she has been working on the problems of Starlink corn for some time. This was by far the most thorough, intelligent, and thought-provoking information about genetically modified organisms that I have ever had the pleasure to take in.
3:00 PM: Emily and I are still chatting, though John has left and Kevin and Melody have joined us. Then Emily realizes that it was time for her next panel: Catastrophic Kubrick, which she was also moderating.
Well, I couldn't pass that panel up, so there I was, listening to people discuss the role of technology in the films of Stanley Kubrick, and whether society drives technology, or technology drives society. Once again, visit biohorror.com for a more in-depth thesis on the discussion.
4:00 PM: I was still in Krushenko's, and the next panel was starting. Once again, Emily was moderating, though sharing responsibilities with Pam Keesey. The subject this time was Planet of the Apes, both the original series and the new Burton film. It turned into a bitch session about the new movie. Granted, it was an interesting, fun and intelligent bitch session, but it was still a bitch session.
5:05 PM: I found myself standing in the Hospitality Suite after the panel with Steve and a smattering of other interesting people (I think three of them were named Kevin... Why were there so many Kevins here?). Steve had just show up and was busily eating sandwiches and entertaining people with his various comedy routines and impersonations. Somehow, we all began talking about professional wrestling.
Suddenly, someone came up and said hi, and I turned around and... it was the Drooling Fanboy from CONvergence 2001. Why me?
It seems that Fanboy was running a panel in an hour and was wondering if I would be in attendance. I looked at my schedule, and sure enough, I had actually circled the panel he was running. I told him sure, I would be there. It did actually sound interesting, and I will say right now, that yes, I was planning on going.
5:30 PM: I was still in the Hospitality Suite chatting away. I filled up a water bottle with root beer and chugged it down.
5:45 PM: I had some more root beer.
5:55 PM: I'm not feeling so well.
6:00 PM: Just as Fanboy's panel was starting, I was in the public bathroom puking. I forgot that Barq's root beer has caffeine. I'm allergic to caffeine. So much for the panel.
7:00 PM: I was finally feeling well enough to walk around fairly well, and I began helping the SF Minnesota Auction set up. I saw the Fanboy leave the convention, but he didn't say good-bye before he left. Ah, well.
7:30 PM: The auction begins, with Steve as the MC/auctioneer. It was two hours of signed books, old board games, memorabilia, and random esoterica. Only one thing really bought my eye: a Tomy toy that runs on air pressure. Stephen Pagel pumped it up and let it leap around one of the tables, and I decided that I had to have it. I managed to get it for $15. I figured I could definitely have $15 worth of fun with it, especially with cats in the house. Apparently, it came from the estate of somebody mildly famous, but I didn't recognize the name so I don't know who it was.
9:35 PM: Steve and I wind up at a showing of 2001: A Space Odyssey in Krushenko's. Fortunately, the crowd there was in a boisterous mood and it turned into our own version of Mystery Science Theater 2001. Samplings:
"Linoleum... in... space!"
"I'm sorry, Dave. Bite me."
"I can just imagine the call to Help Desk on this one. 'Hey, I just removed all these clear plastic plates from the HAL 9000, then I tried to put them back, but a couple of them broke, and I don't think they were in the right order. Now the computer doesn't work, and there's a monolith floating outside the window. Did I do something wrong?'"
Midnight: I was planning to go to the Muppets in Space panel, but it seems that I was diverted into a conversation in the lobby. Steve and I were talking to a woman named Michelle, who was responsible for the presence of Tadao Tomomatsu at CONvergence 2001 (I shook her hand and thanked her for that). Michelle, Steve and I were rambling on about many things that I really can't remember much about... It was late, and it was idle, fun chitchat. I remember Steve doing his Crocodile-Hunter-as-Exorcist routine, as well as some talk about wedding disasters. Whatever we were talking about, it ensured that I missed the Muppets in Space panel entirely.
1:00 AM: Steve runs out of fuel, and I walk him to his van. I then return to the convention to hang out in the Krushenko's Annex. I saw Bob Subiaga in the room, so I decided it might be a good place to hang out (I had run into Bob several times so far during the convention; interesting guy, but I didn't get to talk to him directly very much). Michelle joined the group a little later. Pretty much, the entire remainder of the convention was in this room, a group of about ten people. Idle chitchat and generous amounts of munchies ensued.
1:30 AM: A new person enters the Krushenko's Annex, and I will describe this person the best I can... I'm a bit shaky on the politics and terminology of this sort of situation. I will refer to this person as "her", not only because I didn't catch her name, but also because she was dressed in womanly garb. However, if memory serves, her name was Carl at one point, and she was obviously not always a woman. I am not sure if she was just in drag or if it went further than that, but that doesn't matter.
Technicalities aside, she was fascinating. She had worked for several years on Star Trek: The Next Generation as a stand in for Brent Spiner (evidently when she was still being called Carl). She was filled with wild anecdotes about being associated with Star Trek and working with Brent Spiner and Whoopi Goldberg. My favorite tale was when she had auditioned for a part in The Birdcage while she was still working with Star Trek. She had wound up meeting Robin Williams, then wound up sneaking him onto the Star Trek set. She said she had Polaroids of Robin Williams in the captain's chair, which I meant to ask about later, but I never ran into her again.
2:00 AM: I'd had enough munchies, and people were starting to fall asleep in the Krushenko's Annex room, so I decided it was time to slog my way home.
08052001 10:00 AM: I am back in Krushenko's, ready for the showing of The Adventures of Robin Hood. Errol Flynn! Claude Rains! Basil Rathbone! Yay! I think there were only three people in the room at most watching the film, but it was still fun.
Noon: I was going to go to the Books That Should Be Made Into Movies panel, but instead I wound up sitting in the lobby talking with various people again.
1:00 PM: I wound up in the Movie Swashbucklers panel, and I wound up making a minor social faux pas. I accidentally sat in the middle of everyone on the panel. The room was set up in a circular fashion, so I can always defend myself by saying that there wasn't really any designated space for all the panelists and they just happened to sit around me, but I still felt pretty small. But I gutted it out, and it was quite an interesting panel, though much of it was spent defining what constituted a swashbuckler film.
2:00 PM: I'm back out in the lobby talking again, this time with Michelle, her significant other Bryan, and a woman named Wolf. More idle chatting. This is a seriously laid-back convention.
Michelle's daughter Shea (spelling is a wild guess) wandered by, and I realized that I knew her from Renaissance Festival. Small world!
3:00 PM: I realized that I was hungry and worn out and that I needed a nap. I decided I had had enough of the convention; most of the attendees had already wandered off to their respective lives, so I decided to head for home.
And, well, that's it. It wasn't a wild, noisy adventure, but it was quite pleasant, and I will definitely attend next year. I highly recommend Diversicon for anyone who is looking for a very pleasant time with good people, and for anyone who is interested in an exceptional array of thoughtful panels.