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Games and AlcoholThe story behind Omegacon is an interesting one. The legend goes that a couple of folks from the Omegacon staff once traveled to a little lodge in the midst of Siren, Wisconsin for a wedding. Once they got there, they said, "We HAVE to have a convention here!" They then went back to Minneapolis, sat down with friends and a white board, and planned the first Omegacon.

Omegacon 2002 was the first Omegacon ever. The convention was modeled on a concept called the "relaxacon", in which someone holds a convention where there is little to no programming and no guests. Relaxacons are made for gathering people together for a weekend of fun, games, chatter, and whatever leaps to mind. Generally, they tend to be small, intimate, and tons of fun.

Omegacon 2002 was exactly that. I spent the weekend chatting, eating, drinking, swimming, napping, gaming, lounging, and socializing. It was a welcome break from the usual convention scene. And it took place in this rustic lodge, which really made the weekend come alive. There's really nothing like watching Saturday morning cartoons with a stuffed bear looming over your shoulder.

Now, a few notes about the tale. First of all, these are my personal experiences and opinions. I hope you enjoy hearing about them, but keep in mind that this is not intended to be an all-out full coverage of the convention. I did manage to completely miss several major events, such as the bonfire and the Mike Lee Memorial Sex Toy Discussion (!). However, I do hope you are entertained anyway. Secondly, you can click any photo on this page to see a larger image.

So now, without further ado, is Melissa's tale of Omegacon's inaugural year.

11082002: As a friend to most of the people on the Omegacon board, I was very excited for this convention to begin. I stood on the sidelines and watched as months of planning and effort were poured into a convention whose main draw was as a venue for not doing much of anything. Such is the way of relaxacons.

As it turned out, the week leading up to the convention was, for me, The Week From Hell. It started out with the Republicans overtaking Minnesota politics on Tuesday night. Then I had three teeth basically replaced on Wednesday morning. Thursday, I learned what an overdose of Vicodin will do to you, then learned that my work contract would end at the end of December. Friday, I dealt with a software migration at a major corporation.

By 5:00 PM on Friday, I was practically running away from work. I was really damn ready for the weekend to start. I had a box full of board games and Heroclix already in my car, ready to go. I was further armed with a suitcase, a bottle of 12-year-old Balvenie, my computer, and a hotel reservation. I was set.

I valiantly fought my way out of Minneapolis traffic and then headed north. I drove for the next two hours. I learned that Pink's new album is really not my thing. I also learned that Minnesota's Highway 70 is the straightest road ever; I previously thought they only made roads like that in Nebraska.

Finally, I learned that Siren, WI, is just to the left of Nowhere, because if it was in the Middle of Nowhere, that would at least be Somewhere.

I rolled into the tiny town at around 7:00 PM. Since it was November in the North, it was already pitch black outside. Thankfully, downtown Siren is only about six blocks wide, so even though the town was poorly lit, I had no problem finding The Lodge at Crooked Lake.

Lodge at Crooked LakeI got out of the car and surveyed this place. I'd heard for months about how cool this hotel was, and now I would finally see it for myself. The place looked like an immense, log-walled palace from the outside. A matching restaurant, named Adventures, lived across the parking lot. I grabbed my planner and ventured into the hotel lobby.

I was immediately greeted by stands of outboard motors, a large diorama of muskellunge, wooden chairs, and cheerful throw-rugs. A huge panel of glass separated the lobby from the indoor pool. The place could be said to be infested with the heads of dead deer. Hemmingway would be proud.

I had only a moment to look at the lobby area before I was hijacked by people. Suddenly, about a dozen friends were saying hi, greeting me, saying that the Opening Ceremony was about to start, "Isn't this a cool hotel?", etc. I had just got done with a long, dark drive, and a long, dark week, so I was a little startled by the sudden attention.

I had only a moment to say hi to Christopher and several others near the door to the main meeting room, which was just off the lobby. (I learned later that the room was named the Bear Den, after its many dead bears.) Just as I was about to find a chair, Pat Wick pulled me aside for a moment.

"People are jealous of your room," she said.

Months ago, I was allowed to pick which room I wanted from a list of the 60-odd rooms at the lodge. The lodge doesn't number its rooms; instead, they're all named. Each room has a woodsy title, like "Bullwinkle's Palace" or "Spruce Tree" or, ahem, "Beaver Dam". I looked at the list in bemusement, then saw the perfect room for me: "Muskrat Love". I had laid claim to it as quickly as I could.

Pat continued. "You can keep the Muskrat Love room for as long as you like, but there are folks here who will hog-tie you for it. Just warning you." She grinned.

Wow, I hadn't been in the convention hotel for thirty seconds, and people already wanted to hog-tie me. This, I thought to myself, was going to be one hell of a weekend.

The Bear Den was filled with convention attendees, ready for the relaxing weekend to officially begin. A quick survey relayed that I knew about forty of the fifty people who were in the room. Yup, one hell of a weekend indeed!

I was thrilled to see Linda and Anton, so I quickly waved hello and found a seat near the back of the room behind Anton. As we chatted and caught up for a few minutes, Guy and Wendy came in, just in time for the Opening Ceremony to begin.

The Omegacon Opening Ceremony was really indicative of what happens when you have a bunch of movie and computer geeks on the convention committee. The proceedings began with Tim Wick pressing play on a DVD player. We were then treated to Adam Kooyer's Omegacon trailer, a 30-second "movie" trailer set to Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax". Then we got to guffaw at Tim's video project, a second commercial that consisted of the photos of several of Wisconsin's serial killers (I won't say more lest I ruin the surprise for those who haven't seen it yet). After that, we were treated to brief introductions of all the people who made the convention possible. It was something of a motley crew, really. There's really something to be said for a convention that has both a Mistress of Smut (Lex) and a Mistress of Porn (Lauren). There's also something to be said for a convention that has a consuite run by a couple named Mr. and Mrs. Roadkill.

This was going to be good.

The Ceremony ended with a very good call by Tim. During the last several months, a meme named Rejected has been making its rounds through the Minneapolis fan community. It apparently migrated with Tim, Pat, Windy, Lex, Lauren, Perrin and Chris from the San Diego Comic Con in August. From there, it was passed on to me, and I managed to show it to everyone I could force it upon. It then moved to ICON, where a few of Rejected's characters wound up infiltrating Denise Garner's Karoke party. People who had seen it were talking about it non-stop, and those who hadn't seen it were very confused. I had, in fact, made sure to bring my copy of the DVD with me, because I was dead certain that I would run into someone during the weekend who needed to see it.

So, Tim closed the Ceremony by showing the 9-minute animated film, Rejected.

The audience squealed with glee, shock, and confusion as appropriate. On the sidelines, Lex and Windy were miming the characters, including the happy dancing puffball guys.

After that was finished, the Opening Ceremony was deemed Over, and Windy took over for the next "programming" item: Point/Counterpoint.

You know those giant foam "pool noodles"? You know, those long, brightly-colored tubes of foam that are used as floating toys in swimming pools? Windy had two of them, one green and one purple. Now, this was comical in itself, because Windy, being of diminutive stature, was about half the height of these pool toys. Then she picked two unsuspecting victims from the audience, handed each a noodle, stepped aside, and ordered, "Kirk vs. Picard! Who's better? Argue!"

I can't remember who the slightly-embarrassed victims were, but they eventually got into the game.

I tuned out about then. I was getting a little anxious, because I was still in my coat, and I really just wanted to go check into my room and grab my stuff out of my car. However, I wanted to at least wait until the crowd dispersed so I could grab Chris for some help unloading my car.

I gamely watched the rest of the event. Just the mention of Batman 4 vs. Superman 4 just made me shudder. Windy closed the battle royale with the subject of Batman vs. Spiderman.

When it was done, I dashed out into the lobby to get all of the sign-in, check-in, schlep-in business out of the way. Lauren, who was the Registration Goddess as well as the Mistress of Porn, had me checked into the convention in a jiff. I put on my badge (#27! Good number!) and grabbed a program. I was thrilled to see that Chris, Omegacon's Minister of Propaganda, loaded the program with Rejected references. There's something heart-warming about a convention program that includes an illustration of stick figures dripping with hand-colored blood and entrails.

I then jumped over to the hotel desk for my room key. The grey-haired matron behind the desk soon handed me two key fobs. "Your first project of the convention is to find your room," she said. "It's named Muskrat Love, and you only get one hint. It's on the first floor."

I grinned. I loved this hotel already.

Muskrat LoveI scampered back into the Bear Den and nabbed Chris. We unloaded the car, got his stuff out of Tim and Pat's room, and threw everything and ourselves into the Muskrat Love room.

Our room was one of the more modest rooms in the lodge, which was just fine by me. We had one queen-sized bed, a sofa and two TVs at our disposal, as well as a large window facing out into the woods. My only complaint is that the door was difficult to close -- it had a nasty habit of sticking just before it would latch. Throughout the weekend, we eventually got into the habit of slamming the door every time we left or entered the room.

I spent about an hour in the room, unwinding from the week. Even though Consuite was right across the hall from our door, it was blissfully quiet in Muskrat Love. I needed that sort of interlude before heading back out into the social fray.

Around 9:00 PM, I felt normalized enough to join the convention. I grabbed my bottle of Balvenie, kicked off my shoes and socks, and walked across the hall to Consuite.

Consuite was one hell of a production. I've never seen a better hospitality suite. The room had a full kitchen, which allowed for a ton of space for booze, snacks, rice cookers, deep fryers, fruit, plates, cups, and other amenities. A sofa and many comfy chairs were gathered around a fireplace, a stereo, and a table full of even more snacks. The room was full of people lounging around in their pajamas and slippers.

The Roadkills were presiding over everything there. Roadkill and Mrs. Roadkill are very unforgettable people. He's a big, burly, tattooed man with a long, curly mustache, and she's tall, stocky, and curvy to match. They look more like they belong in a biker convention than a sci-fi convention. Yet they're both impeccably nice, and they were running that consuite like it was a Swiss clock. I don't think bowls were ever allowed to empty. They just mystically refilled themselves under the Roadkills' expert hands.

Roadkill's ShoesRoadkill was running around the room in a purple unitard and curly-toed shoes. Like I said, he's kind of impossible to miss.

I grabbed a bowl of rice and sat down near Chris and Tim. The three of us began a very long, very interesting conversation about Hitchcock's early films.

A while later, I bellied up to the arsenal of alcohol and mixed up something that I theorized would taste like a B-52. Instead, I got something that just tasted like furniture polish. I think my taste buds have been spoiled by years of really expensive alcohol. Either that, or I have really poor drink-mixing skills.

Whatever happened, I drank my vile concoction, figuring that I shouldn't waste the bountiful gifts of Consuite. It was after this that I began drawing on the walls.

See, there were several large sheets of paper stuck to one of the walls. On a chair below the display, markers were offered. Several people had already taken the cue and took the initiative to doodle, write, and otherwise deface the sheets of paper. I decided I needed to doodle, write, and deface this paper, too.

Many minutes later, a cartoon of "Party Cthulhu" somehow crept out of my hands. In my state of furniture-polish-poisoning, I suddenly found the image of a drunken Cthulhu with a party hat and a martini glass very funny indeed. I don't know if anyone else appreciated what Phillips Vodka could do to a slightly disturbed web designer, but it was my mark on the world for the evening.

ConsuiteI then settled back into my chair and partook heavily of my bottle of Balvenie. I reassured myself that I'd had a long and terrible week, that my newly-drilled molars needed more anesthetic, and that I deserved to kick back and kill a few brain cells with impunity.

During this time I had a couple hours worth of very intriguing conversations with Wendy, Guy, Tim, Pat, Windy, Markiee, Mrs. Roadkill, and a very bald fellow named Ian. Minion Sharon even showed up after a while, after a long drive from Minneapolis. I remember chatting about college pranks with everyone, but the gods as my witnesses, I can't remember many details, nor can I remember much about any other conversations that ensued. I remember having fun. I also remember writing notes on conversations that I have no recollection of. (The next day, I found a scrawl in my notes that read, "Penis used as an interrogation device -- attributable to Ian." I have no idea what this means, nor do I want to know.)

I do remember looking at a half-full bottle of Balvenie and noting, "Hunh. That was full a couple hours ago."

Rob and Barb showed up quite late in the evening. The first thing that came up in conversation was, "Have you seen Rejected yet?!?"

When it turned out that they still had yet to see it, I grabbed my bottle and said, "Follow me! And everyone else who has not seen Rejected yet should also follow me!"

I led a small team of folks to the Muskrat Love room, where I unpacked my laptop, tossed in my Rejected DVD, and set the contraption up on the coffee table in front of the couch. Rob, Barb, Chris and others gathered around the screen. I hit play.

I had every intention of watching the short film for the umpteenth time. I had every intention of showing the film and going back out into the convention. In fact, I had a goal to make it outside to the bonfire that was scheduled in the program guide. However, I noted that I had suddenly become very aware of the rotation of the earth and, on a smaller scale, the hotel room. I made sure Chris had a handle on things, then made my way over to the bed, where I crashed rather unceremoniously.

I figured I was just a little woozy. I had clearly drunk far too much in a very short amount of time, so I thought that laying down for a few minutes might remedy things.

Well, um, no.

You see, drinking a half-bottle of single malt Scotch all by your lonesome can be construed as "decadent". Drinking that amount of Scotch in two hours moves the description from "decadent" to "damnable". In the eyes of the Scotch gods, taking only a couple hours to drink something that took 12 years to make is an unspeakable act of hubris. For good reasons, they decided to smite me.

So yea, verily, I was smote.

I crashed on the spinning bed around 11:30 PM or so. I barely noticed as spinning conversations and spinning people came and went on the other side of the room. At some point in the evening, Paul and Heather showed up to say hi; Chris guided them in to see me, and I somehow recognized them from their voices because I couldn't see them with all that spinning going on. I remember being very cheerful to see them, but being unable to say a whole lot that was coherent.

11092002: The next thing I remember, I woke up in the bathroom.

My first thought was, "That toilet paper roll is going to run out soon."

My second thought was, "Dammit, the room is spinning again."

My third thought was, "What the hell just happened, and how did I get here?"

I wasn't sick, thank the gods, so I apparently wandered in there (somehow) to use the bathroom in the usual way. I stumbled back to bed. There was nobody in the room except me, and the clock read midnight-something.

Next thing I know, it was 2:00 AM, and I was AWAKE. The room was still spinning, but dammit, I was AWAKE. I wish I could sleep alcohol off like a normal human. But no, the Scotch gods rightfully felt it necessary for me to suffer.

I waited in bed for a few minutes. I was drunk and sick. A few minutes after that, I was drunk, sick, and bored. I decided to brave the perilously rocking floor and go to Consuite. Not only was I drunk, sick, and bored, but I was also freezing and painfully hungry. I hadn't had dinner that evening.

I must have been in an awful state, because when Chris saw me, he immediately ushered me back to the room and made me lie back down. He brought me crackers and water and endured with me while I went through every nasty, alcohol-laden emotion in the book. I managed to eat two crackers. I eventually fell asleep.

I woke up again at 4:00 AM. The room was no longer spinning. My stomach still felt rotten. I swore to never drink in excess again.

I woke up again at 6:00 AM. I decided I hated my metabolism.

I woke up again at 8:00 AM, which is when Chris was supposed to wake up in order to get the Saturday morning cartoons playing in the Bear Den. I got him moving and cleaned up; he was out the door by 8:30 AM or so. I then took what was probably one of the best showers in my life. I love scalding-hot hotel showers. They cure so many ills.

Saturday Morning Cartoon audienceFinally, around 9:00 AM, I was feeling excellent. I decided that I really didn't hate my metabolism.

I put on some comfy casual clothes and ensured that my feet were bare. I grabbed my laptop. I wandered out to the Bear Den.

The room was packed full of fans, most of them wearing pajamas. Most of them were eating, too. That looked like a very good idea.

I discovered that adjacent to the Bear Den room was a room full of complimentary continental breakfast goodies. I love this hotel! Milk, coffee, tea, orange juice, cereal, waffles, bread, muffins, bagels, jam, peanut butter, oatmeal... Yes!

I then asked my stomach if it could eat anything. It replied with a sickly, "No..."

I was beastly thirsty, though, so I loaded up a few glasses full of milk, toted them into the Bear Den, and found a spot at one of the tables. I popped open my computer and began taking notes on the evening before.

The first thing that happened was that Monte came up to me and told me that I wasn't supposed to be working at this convention. I assured him that I wouldn't be working long.

I surveyed the surroundings. There was a huge bowl on my table, labeled "Fan Mix". It appeared to be filled with a mix of about ten children's cereals. Notable inclusions: Cocoa Puffs, Trix, Kix, and Lucky Charms.

Breakfast of ChampionsSomeone (I forget who it was) sat down next to me with a bowl full of Fan Mix and a Diet Mountain Dew. If that isn't the Breakfast of Champions, I don't know what is.

Tim was up in front of the crowd, taming a mass of video playback equipment with various DVDs and tapes. Chris helped for a few minutes, then sat down next to me.

The ensuing several hours were a blur of cartoony goodness. I listened to everyone else sing to several Schoolhouse Rock selections. I got to see just how bad ElectraWoman and DynaGirl really was. We watched episodes of Animaniacs, The Tick, Loony Toons, Pinky and the Brain, and Invader Zim. And, yes, we watched Rejected again. This time, the entire crowd danced and repeated non-sequiters.

Near the end of this grand display, my stomach had recovered enough to digest a couple of muffins and half a bowl of oatmeal. It wasn't much, but I did have about eight glasses of milk to wash it down.

Finally, after a last bout of Animaniacs around 11 AM, Tim closed the Saturday morning cartoons session, to the great dismay of the crowd. I think everyone in there could have watched cartoons the entire rest of the day.

I then went back to the Muskrat Love room to nap, because, dammit, relaxacons are made for gratuitous napping.

Windy!Around 1:30 PM, I was woken up by a hazmat team that wanted to clean my room. Okay, it was only room service, but I was very amused by their fluorescent orange vest-uniforms. I let them in, pulled on some comfy socks, and ventured out of the room.

I wandered into the Bear Den and found that it looked like a craft store that exploded. I was a little groggy, so I must have looked very confused by this development.

Pat walked up to me and explained that I had stumbled into the Peep Olympics. Windy had procured several dozen packages of holiday Peeps, along with glue, glitter, pipe cleaners, felt, and rhinestones, and had laid them all out on several tables in the Bear Den. Since the official time for the event was noon, most of the crafting frenzy was already over, so I was viewing the few people and scattered bits that remained.

Pat led me over to the bar, where about twenty works of Peep art were already on display. Impressive stuff! There were Peep dioramas of all sorts of geekly persuasions. Buffy Peeps. Star Trek Peeps. Cthulhu Peeps. And, yes, Rejected Peeps. (You can find photos of these displays at the end of this report.)

This was indeed a grand and impressive undertaking. I simply had to take advantage of this opportunity.

Peeps Arts and Crafts TimeI sat down at a table with Tom, Adam, Pat, Linda, and one other guy who I didn't know. I grabbed a pack of snowman Peeps. I thought long and hard about what I should do with them. For a while, I just dabbled and watched everyone else work.

Linda was busy laboring away at Final Fantasy garb for her marshmallowy candies. Adam was in the midst of making miniature Trek uniforms out of felt, for his objet d'arte, Peeps on the Edge of Forever. Tom was sort of in the same spot I was, just trying to think of something to do that hadn't been done yet.

Finally, I decided that there should be Invader Zim Peeps. I started sticking sugary snowmen together in order to form the two Almighty Tallest.

After a few minutes of working on this, Tom looked over at me. "Are you making the Almighty Tallest?"

"Yup!" I was glad that I wasn't just putting together incomprehensible masses of paint and sugar.

"I'm making Zim!"

"Ooo, so am I."

"I'll be doing human Zim, I think."

"Oh, cool. I'm doing the alien version..."

So it was cool. We both worked at our separate Zims for a long while.

LexI learned in the following hour that Peeps are a pain in the ass when used as crafts materials. The marshmallow centers just get sticky as they are handled. Markers don't work on them, because the sugar rubs off on the nibs. Watercolor paints work marginally better, but once applied, the coat of color never really dries and just becomes a sticky mess. Glue doesn't really stick to Peeps, so using rhinestones was a challenge to say the least. The only craft materials that seemed to work moderately well were the florist wire and the pipe cleaners.

Yet, finally, I had sticky, gooey, and perilously fragile marshmallow statuettes of The Almighty Tallest and Zim. They weren't good by any means, but I was glad they were done. I stuck them on a yellow sheet of paper, set them with the other finished pieces, and wandered on.

I then spent the rest of the afternoon doing relaxacon stuff: lots of doing not much at all other than socializing. I spent some time catching up with Erik McInroy, whom I hadn't seen in ages. I watched Erik and Markiee begin a game of cribbage, a game that I still can't figure out how to play. I geeked out with Monte about digital cameras and swank computers for a few minutes (it turned out that I wasn't the only person with a PowerBook G4 at the convention). I watched Anton play "Zombies!!!", a card/board game that includes 100 plastic zombies for your gaming pleasures. I hung out in Consuite with Chris, Lex, Amy McInroy, Tom, and others. I ate a lot of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. I learned that you should never allow bits of Flamin' Hot Cheetos to enter your sinuses.

Eventually, Chris and I ran into Rob, and the three of us decided that we needed to invade the hot tub. We invited Barb, but apparently she had hair-dying plans with Lauren.

Rob, Chris and I spent a long while in the hot tub, mostly going over some commercial projects that the three of us worked on before Halloween. We talked about doing more commercials for local haunted houses for the next year, about filming some short monster-themed skits, and about the several haunted houses that we all visited on Halloween. Chris and Rob are genuinely dangerous when they put their minds together, because I witnessed as they each came up with about a dozen skit ideas during the half hour that we were in there.

Hot Tub!After a while, I got a little overheated, and started trading between the hot tub and the swimming pool. The pool was freezing at first, but it became tolerable surprisingly quickly. I did laps for a little while. Gotta work off those Cheetos, you know...

After a while, we were all joined by Lex, Windy, Pat, Guy, and Wendy. We all spent much time horsing around in the hot tub and the pool. I learned that no matter how well I leverage myself, I can't dunk Chris. It's just not feasible with the laws of physics as they are.

Eventually, just before I decided to get out of the pool, Paul, Heather, and Sharon walked in. Since I was now much more sober, I had much better conversations with all three of them.

Paul and Heather soon wandered off to seek solace in Siren's local movie theater, so I got out of the pool and decided to try the sauna. Mmmmm, sauna!

The sauna was tiny, but quite adequate. Jenni Klumpp was already in there, as well as a girl I hadn't met yet. It turns out that she was Beth, one of those friends of friends that I'd always heard much about but had never met.

The three of us had a good time talking about eyeglasses, tattoos, and Minneapolis. Poor Jen had a terrible cold, so I think she planned on spending much of the convention in the sauna.

We were eventually joined by Pat, Windy, and Eric Knight, and all was Good. Chris stopped in briefly to tell me that he was going to disappear for a while to help with the Toy Story 2 Commenary-o-Rama in the Movie Room. Then people just sort of kept coming and going, much to the chagrin of Jen. It's not good to lose that much heat through the door.

Scary Clown Alien PeepI eventually tired of the heat, and decided to wander back to my room to wash off the chlorine. When I got to the room, I noted that the door handle seemed to have gained a decoration. Someone had made a "Scary Clown Alien Peep" door hanging, and had bestowed it upon the Muskrat Love room. Hunh. Interesting, but difficult to explain. (I found out later that this entity came courtesy of Windy, who had been threatening Chris with Peeps for many months.)

I left the decoration where I found it and proceeded with my plans. I showered, then spent some time taking notes on my G4, then decided it was time for another nap. Yes, more napping.

I pulled myself out of a groggy stupor around 5:00 PM. At 6:00 PM, there was a catered dinner in the banquet hall, and since I had paid $20 for partaking of that dinner, I was planning to make the most of it.

On the Thursday before the convention, Windy had mailed a few of her female friends and mentioned that it might be fun to dress formally for the dinner. It wasn't a planned thing, it was just sort of a "Hey, this might be fun if..." thing. It sounded like an interesting plan, so I made sure to pack along one of my bridesmaid's dresses for the occasion.

So, I pulled myself out of bed and pulled on a red silk Mandarin-cut dress, plus stockings and five-inch heels. Since I'm averse to make-up and primping, I managed to go from bed-clothes to full formal dress in under three minutes.

FormalI did a fly-by of Consuite and a few of the other program rooms before settling down in the lobby. People were beginning to cluster outside the banquet hall. I enjoyed watching everyone wander up. Some were in pajamas. Some were in casual clothes. Soon, I saw Kerry and Stephanie show up in their formal digs. Kerry gets the High Class Award for her fantastic opera gloves.

There was much waiting around while the catering team labored away in the hall. Pretty much the entire population of the convention wound up waiting outside those doors, a grand total of about 60 people out of the 70 warm bodies inhabiting the hotel that weekend.

Chris eventually joined me in the lobby after the movie was done. We didn't match very well; his blue CONvergence T-shirt clashed a little with the red silk and gold filigree dress.

Finally, we were let in, and Pat had to wrangle us all into a long line that wrapped around the interior of the huge room. One by one, we all marched up to the buffet, where we were treated to herbed chicken, several different pastas, pork, rolls, and other food-like substances. It all looked very good, but it wasn't necessarily what I'd order from a menu.

Buffet WaitingI was disappointed in the beverages, however. Apparently, to keep the cost of the dinner down, Omegacon had decided to nix both beverages and dessert from the usual buffet menu. That wasn't a huge problem, really, since Roadkill was fetching sodas from Consuite to slake our thirst, but milk was the only non-soda drink. It would have been nice to have water.

I took my plate of food and glass of milk to a table and sat down with Chris, Erik and Amy McInroy, and another woman named Melissa. I remembered that Pat was calling the convention the "Melissa and Ann and Mike convention" because 15% of the attendees were either named Melissa, Ann, or Mike.

We were about halfway done with our dinners when the rest of the formal crowd swept into the banquet hall. Windy appeared in full princess regalia, with a silver taffeta dress, pink hair, pink feather boa, and a tiara. Lauren was clad in purple, with her dark curls piled on top of her head. Barb was striking in her purple jacket, with her hair dyed to match (!). Monte looked smashing in a suit. But perhaps best of all was Lex in her "Bad Kitty" outfit: cat ears, collar, layers of studded belts, striped stockings, and a tight shirt that read "Bad Kitty" in rhinestones.

Everyone applauded as they graced us with their presence. It was quite the entrance.

Lex's LashesTragically, that was the most interesting thing about dinner. The food was alright, but it wasn't worth $20. I actually left a significant amount of it on my plate and just drank a lot of milk.

After hanging around the dinner hall until 7:00 PM, Chris and I decided that it was time to excuse ourselves and head back to the room. I changed out of my formal wear and into sweatpants and a worn Minicon T-shirt (how's that for contrast?). Chris decided to take a nap after I promised to wake him up at 8:00 PM.

For the next hour, I hung out in Consuite while Roadkill experimented with blender drinks. He went through lots of strawberries and plenty of rum. I had one; it was very tasty, but it needed something else as well, and none of us could place what it needed.

I woke Chris up at 8:00 PM. We hung around the room until around 9:00 PM, then went back to Consuite. We had plans to grab something to drink, then head out to the bonfire, since we had both missed the fire on Friday night.

When we got into Consuite, we soon learned that it was raining outside, and thus, the bonfire was not to be. Drat. I guess we'll just have to wait for next year.

We staked out spots on the sofa in Consuite and chatted for the next hour with Mike Lee, Tim, Heather, Markiee, Heidi, and many others. There was a lot of talk about the recent glut of movies based on Marvel comics, as well as about the upcoming James Bond film.

Finally, Eric Knight walked into Consuite and handed a strip of paper to me.

"Does this mean anything to you?" he asked.

It read, "You suggested red meat. I gave you Delta Joe."

I laughed and said yes. I was actually waiting for this strip of paper all weekend. It was Eric's birthday, and he was supposed to be following a line of clues to his gift. Each clue led him to a person, and each found person would give him the next clue. He had his girlfriend, Amanda, to thank for this nefarious plan.

I was the penultimate node on this route, so I figured I'd have a long wait. I was impressed that he found me so quickly -- I thought it was a rather obscure clue.

Pretty Princess PlaytimeI whipped out my pad of paper and wrote down the last clue for him: "I simply can't do a thing with those nails if you keep biting them!" He looked at it and immediately knew that he was supposed to be at the Pretty Pretty Playtime event that started at 10:00 PM.

A little while after 10:00 PM, I wandered over to the Bear Den for some Pretty Pretty Playtime myself. As I've said before, I'm mostly averse to make-up and most beauty products, and my hair is far too short to play with, so I wasn't expecting to get into too much trouble here. The boys, on the other hand...

By the time I walked into the Bear Den, the place was a riot of nail enamel, hair ties, glitter pens, and wire. It was pretty wild.

Beth was busy drawing patterns onto Ian's head with skin-safe glitter pens. Lex was doing Jen Manna's curls up into a braid that hearkened the stylings of Dr. Seuss. Mitch, a fellow I soon recognized from high school (!), was having his toenails painted silver. Markiee was very proud of his shiny, pink toenails. Eric Knight, who has very long tresses, was being subjected to some sort of braiding that looked like something that George Lucas might design.

Yet the coolest part of all this was probably Heidi's hair. Lauren first labored over her thigh-length tresses, wrapping ties around twin ponytails until they stood out from her head like puppy ears. Then Windy found the wire, and began wrapping, twisting, and otherwise shaping and forming her hair into a wild cross between Whoville and Pippi Longstocking fashions.

I found I couldn't quite resist the pull of this sort of fun, so I found a bottle of purplish-chrome nail lacquer, sat down, and began slathering my toenails with it.

While I labored over this, Eric managed to escape the impromptu hairdressers, and finally found his birthday gift from Amanda: a DVD player. There was much rejoicing!

Several minutes later, my toenails turned an odd salmon-chrome color. They were very shine, but not quite pink and not quite purple. I wasn't sure if I liked them, but I didn't care enough to grab for the polish remover. I wandered away from the prettiness.

I found Chris in the corner with Nate where they, the ultimate comic geeks, were trading comics and otherwise geeking out. Not wanting to jump into that fray, I wandered over to one of the other tables, where Sharon was playing Chez Geek with several others, including Dave Kingsley. Dave had somehow managed to get about five Nookie cards into his hand, and was seriously raking up slack points with them.

Heidi's HairIt was nearing 11:00 PM, so I stopped at my room briefly, then went up to the Movie Room for Tim's Trailer Park. Basically, Tim and Chris had conspired to gather a huge collection of movie trailers, just so they could play them all in a minor extravaganza of new and old films. After some minor technical problems that Mike Lee cleared up, a room full of movie geeks was treated to a smorgasbord of trailers.

First off, there were a couple of trailers that Tim picked just because they were bad trailers for good movies: Changing Lanes and Moulin Rouge! We chatted a little about bad marketing. Then we watched old trailers and noted how different they are from the trailers of today: Casablanca, To Have and To Have Not, Citizen Kane, Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Finally, Tim closed with all of the trailers that we just wanted to see: The Two Towers, Daredevil, Comedian, Adaptation.

After that was done, it was midnight. Sharon, Chris and I talked about what we all wanted to do. First of all, we could watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the Bear Den. Secondly, we could go to the "Mike Lee Memorial Sex Discussion" in Consuite. Third, we could just ditch it all and get out the Heroclix figures.

I wasn't keen on the movie; I've just seen it too many times. Sharon wanted to go to the Sex Discussion. I really didn't want to go there, but I felt a little obligated to go, just to find out what was going to happen. There was just something about that panel that really made me uneasy. It could have been a number of things. First of all, Mike Lee is notorious for being morally embarrassed about such discussions, but he was required to be there since it was named after him for just that reason. Secondly, I didn't really feel the need to hear a sex discussion from this group of people. Third, I didn't really feel the need to share my history with them, either. Fourth, a major part of the discussion was supposedly going to be about *ahem* toys, and I'm just generally not into that.

Mood RoomWell, as it was, Sharon, Chris, and I agreed that we would go check out the Sex Discussion, then play Heroclix afterwards. We made our way to Consuite.

Once there, we found about thirty people packed into the "Mood Room" portion of Consuite, which was the bedroom. People were on the bed, on the floor, in chairs, wherever they could fit. Sharon and I sat on the floor by the door and listened in.

As a discussion on the history of vibrators began, Pat came in with the most outrageous hairstyle yet: a series of braids looped around her head like a satellite dish. She posed for a photo, then deemed the Mood Room a fire hazard. She offered her room, the vast Bullwinkle's Palace, as a new venue for the Sex Discussion.

As everyone picked up and moved, I just decided that I didn't want to go with. I told Sharon that I would meet up with her later in the lobby, after the panel was done. Chris and I then found a sofa in the lobby, sat in it, and chatted a bit while watching the people in the Bear Den jump around to the "Time Warp".

Around 1:00 AM, Chris and I decide to start a Heroclix game without Sharon. We figured that she could either join in the middle of the game whenever she got there. I grabbed my box of figures from the room, and then we embarked on a search for a suitable playing space.

We finally found a table in one of the meeting rooms that was large enough to accommodate the map. We then reviewed the rules, selected characters, and began playing. It was slow-going for about an hour, because we had to keep checking the rule book for clarifications.

Soon, we had two minor armies facing off. Chris had Swamp Thing, The Flash, and a few others, while I selected Batman, Gorilla Grod, Robin, and Man-Bat. I quickly learned that next time, I want Swamp Thing on my team.

Sharon came in a long while later, noting that the Sex Discussion was still going on. Since neither Chris nor I had lost a character yet, we decided to just start Sharon off in the middle of the game. She picked up Huntress, The Flash, Booster Gold, and a few others and advanced upon us. We did our best to teach her the game as she played, since this was her first attempt at it.

It was a very long game, partly due to the abundance of characters on the board, and partly due to us being so tired that we weren't learning the rules very fast. It was around 3:00 AM when Chris gave up his remaining characters, which Sharon and I greedily divvied up between our sides. I moved Swamp Thing to my side, which I was very pleased about.

By 3:30 AM, Robin had killed The Flash, Huntress had polished off Batman, and Swamp Thing had killed everything on the board. Somehow, I won by a large margin, which was odd because the game certainly wasn't going my way until Chris quit.

Eric during the Pretty Princess PlaytimeSatisfied that we now knew the Heroclix rules well enough to play again some other day, we cleaned up the game pieces and put them away. We stopped by my room to drop off the game, then went to Consuite. My stomach was rumbling, so I rooted around in the rice cookers for a snack.

Tim was in the room, looking a little dazed. When I sat down, he began bemoaning the fact that the Sex Discussion was still going on in his room, so he couldn't go to bed. Everyone else in consuite told him to go kick them out. We even offered to help.

He didn't move until 3:45 AM, when Roadkill declared that he wanted to go to sleep, so he kicked us all out of Consuite. Tim went upstairs to do battle for his turf. Sharon trundled off to the parking lot, where her car awaited her; she was staying in her mom's cabin that weekend, because she couldn't afford to spend money on a hotel room. I walked all the way across the hall to my room.

I loved the Muskrat Love room.

Head Painting08102002: I woke up at 9:00 AM, but only because the alarm rang. Chris had to be awake to start the Power Puff Girls Movie in the Movie Room at 10:00 AM, and we had to be packed up and moved out before then.

Chris went upstairs to start the Movie. After everything was running smoothly, we packed our stuff and hauled it out of the room. We made sure to take the Scary Clown Alien Peep with us.

After relinquishing control of the Muskrat Love room to the hotel, Chris went up to finish watching the movie, while I decided to eat instead. I grabbed an English muffin from the continental breakfast room and lumbered into the Bear Den. There, I found Windy, Jen Manna, Linda, Anton and others. We all sat around, eating breakfast snacks and telling tales. Windy went on a long and very funny treatise about how she can plunge through crowds because she is short and cute. Jen Manna got into telling tales about the giant tortoise out at the Renaissance Festival (I really didn't need to know how the tortoise felt about certain large rocks on the grounds, nor did I want to know what it did with them, but damn, it was funny...).

After this impromptu breakfasty-snack-n-social, Anton and Linda and I walked out of the Bear Den to do other things. On the way out, the three of us hatched a plan to have lunch at noon. We had heard wonderful things about Adventures, the restaurant across the parking lot, so we thought it might be good to try it out.

After devising this plan, I went upstairs to the Movie Room to watch the remainder of the Power Puff Girls' buttkicking. The film wasn't as good as many of the television episodes, but oh, well. The good news is that even though the movie had an early start time, the room was packed. I had to sit on the floor, which was fine by me.

Feet!After the movie, Chris, Tim and I sat around the conference table in the Movie Room and gabbed. We all decided that the Sunday movie should start at noon, not 10:00 AM, next year.

After a few minutes of chatting, we were joined by Guy, Wendy, Sharon, Paul, and Heather. We all sat around, chatting about movies, telling tales about the yearly MISFITS trivia contest, and positing theories about different comics.

At noon, I proclaimed that I had lunch plans and invited Chris along. About half of the group in the Movie Room followed me to the lobby and appended themselves to the original lunch group. Sharon would have joined us, too, but she had to begin her drive back to Minneapolis. We bid her farewell and embarked on a trek across the parking lot.

By the time Chris, Linda, Anton and I walked into the restaurant, our group of four turned into something that needed to be crammed around two tables. After the waitress brought our drinks, our group had grown by enough people to require yet another table. Before the long, we needed a fourth table. Friends just kept coming in and joining us. In all, our group of four turned into 16 in under 20 minutes. Linda, Anton, me, Chris, Dave Kingsley, Mike Lee, Wendy, Guy, Beth, Ian, Perrin, Jenni, Paul, and Heather were all parties in swamping this poor waitress.

This lunch was my favorite part of the weekend. I got to finally catch up a bit with Linda and Anton. There was an interesting discussion about naming conventions. There was some very geeky Dr. Who talk (which, of course, centered around Mike Lee, whose knowledge of the show is uncanny). The servers were thankfully good-natured about our huge group, and the food was quite tasty.

After a good two-hour lunch, I wound up tallying the cash for the whole table. We left a generous tip.

We all walked back to the hotel around 2:00 PM. People were packing up and leaving town, so there were several goodbyes being passed around. The more intrepid of us hung around for another hour, until the Closing Ceremony.

Closing CeremonyClosing Ceremony was pretty sparsely attended. Everyone was tired from being up late on Saturday, so the closing comments were pretty short and sweet. The most interesting bit was the impromptu Peeps Awards. Chris noted that we could hand out awards like in the Olympics: a bronze, a silver, and two golds. Everyone thought that this was a great idea, so Pat took on the job of picking out five of the best Peeps. Somewhere, our math was off, and she instead wound up giving out two bronzes, a silver, and two golds. I forget which piece won what, but she picked out the Wizard of Oz Peeps, Peeps on the Edge of Forever, the Space Shuttle Peeps, the house-and-landscaping Peeps, and one of the Rejected Peeps for top honors.

The Ceremony closed with a mention that Lauren was ready to take sign-ups for Omegacon 2003. I was sad that I didn't have any cash on me -- I would have signed up.

People disappeared very quickly after that. Goodbyes were said, and bags were hauled out. Somehow, Chris and I were roped into helping pack up Consuite before we left the hotel, which was fine because the Roadkills had everything already packed up and organized before people started hauling. Consuite was great, even right down to the clean-up!

After that, Chris and I took off for Minneapolis. I was horribly groggy for the entire two-hour drive.

So, all in all, it was a great weekend. It wasn't tremendously eventful, but hey, it was a relaxacon. I can highly recommend attending Omegacon 2003.

I'd like to thank:

...Paul and Heather, for attending and having fun with us. Also, Paul for his lovely photos (below).

...Chris, for nursing me through my smiting by the Elder Scotch Gods, and for keeping me awake on the drive home, among other things.

...The Omegacon concom for creating a new and fun event for all of us to enjoy.

Additional Photos of the Peeps Olympics Results

Click on the thumbnails below to see the full image. All photos below were taken by Melissa Kaercher, 2002. Artists for the Peeps crafts are noted where known. If you have information about any unidentified Peeps art below, please e-mail us and let us know so we can give proper credit.

Tom working on his Invader Zim Peep

Wow! Who would have thought you could make a manticore out of marshmallowy treats?

Buffy the Peep Slayer

Peep cenobites!

Gumby and Mr. Bill Peeps

Linda Petersen's Final Fantasy Peeps

Adam Kooyer's "Peeps on the Edge of Forever"

A Spongebob Squarepants diorama

Melissa Kaercher's Invader Zim, Almighty Tallest Purple, and Almighty Tallest Red

Top: The Spongebob Squarepants Peeps

Bottom: Melissa's Invader Zim Peeps

Star Trek Peeps. On the left, two peeps using a transporter. On the right, a Kirk Peep wooing a green slave Peep...

A Rejected Peep: "My spoon is too big!"

The Alien Abduction Peeps (left) and the other Rejected Peep: "For the love of God and all that is holy...!" (right)

The "Cthulhu of Love" Peep.

Pat hands out awards for the best Peeps art at the Closing Ceremony. Awards went to "Peeps on the Edge of Forever", the Rejected Peep, the Peeps House, the Space Shuttle astronaut Peeps, and the Over the Rainbow Peeps.

Additional Photos of Omegacon

Click on the thumbnails below to see the full image. All photos below were taken by Paul Fisher, 2002.

The exterior of the Lodge at Crooked Lake.

Paul and Heather in their room.

The lodge's "backyard."

Fan Chow.

Monte braves gory death.

Melissa and Chris in the pool.

Reflections in the hotel.

Images of the Bear Den.

Paul and Heather check out Consuite.

Sharon and Mike in Consuite.

Chris does battle with a sandwich.

More images of Consuite.

Pat at the Peeps table.

Paul and Heather.

Adam Kooyer slaving over Peeps on the Edge of Forever.

An unflattering (yet appropriate) image of Melissa.

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