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It is November 27, 2004 as I write this. Yeah, I'm a bit behind on my convention reports.

Melissa Kaercher, Christopher Jones, and Stitch at Omegacon 2003.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.
However, I at least had the foresight to do a quicker, less-detailed write up of the convention the Monday afterward, so I'm going to tap heavily into that. I'm sorry that this tale isn't going to be the epic-length beast that most of my reports have been, but this will just have to do.

When I went to Omegacon 2003, I was in the throes of the worst year of my life. I had been unemployed for most of the year. The web contract I had taken had just screwed me over for a lot of money. Only two weeks before the convention, I had flattened my left thumb against the back of my hand, requiring uninsured hospital adventures. I had also just bought my first house, which proved to be one hell of a handful. By the time that Omegacon 2003 rolled around, I was broke, unhappy, injured, and seriously hopped up on Vicodin. It wasn't pretty.

Thus, I honestly slept through most of the convention.

Aside from my personal travails, though, Omegacon 2003 was a lot of fun. Basically, the convention is a relax-a-con, which means that there isn't any programming or structure. You just spend a weekend in a hotel with friends.

As a relax-a-con, Omegacon is the best I've ever attended. The Consuite is phenomenal, with a full bar and real, honest to god food. The hotel (The Lodge at Crooked Lake in Siren, WI) has a sauna, a large hot tub, a pool, and oodles of large spaces for gaming... and it's cheap. The yearly attendance is around 70 people, which is a good crowd without being too big. It's lovely, and highly recommended.

And now... the saga of Omegacon 2003.

Welcome to the Lodge at Crooked Lake, where you can find moose, bear, and every vintage outboard motor you could ever dream of.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.
11072003: After a long, difficult day of wrestling a departmental budget, I finally zipped home to pack and pick up one of my two traveling companions, Sharon. As I flung things into my suitcase, Sharon engrossed herself with fixing her brand-new G3 PowerBook, which had taken to freezing up at every reboot. By the time I was finished packing and was ready to go, she was on her cell phone with Apple and was going through all sorts of fun resets and computer acrobatics.

As we were in a hurry, Sharon brought the laptop into the car and continued her conversation with Apple as I drove off into the night towards Christopher's place.

As the car revved up, the Apple tech asked, "... um, is that your computer making that noise?"

"No, that's the car," Sharon assured him.

"Oh." Frightened pause. "You're not driving, are you?!?"

"No, but my roommate is!" my companion chirped cheerfully.

As we zoomed away, I came to the realization that it may not have been smart to drive on an empty tank of gas for two days. One mile from home, and roughly six blocks from my intended gas station, the car began to sputter.

At that same moment, Sharon and Apple finally began to hit the heart of the computer problem.

Moments later, the car began to lose power. In a last-ditch effort to get off the road before I lost momentum, I hit the hazards and tried to turn into the next street. It didn't work. Now I was sitting sideways in oncoming traffic. And rolling backwards.

"AIEEEEE!" I said. Okay, maybe I didn't scream in terror, but that's about how I felt as I leapt out of the car and desperately tried to push the coupe out of the road.

Sharon dashed out of the car to help as she called out apologies to the poor, freaked-out computer tech on her cell phone. Apparently, he hung up rather swiftly afterwards.

After a few good pushes, the car was safely on a side street, within two blocks of my intended gas station. I was both pleased that we were so close to salvation, and pissed that my car didn't have the gumption to drive two extra blocks.

Around 15 minutes later, we were back on the road and heading for Christopher's place. He was all set and ready to go, so we were soon on the highway, heading north through the blackness of Minnesota at 7 PM in winter.

The ensuing hour and a half were spent listening to a Soylent Theater CD and eating highly addictive butter pretzels.

We made it to the convention with no further troubles. I then spent the next few hours dangling my feet in the hot tub, eating many things in the marvelous Consuite, and chatting with random folks. However, my week caught up to me in no time, and I soon realized that what I really genuinely wanted to do was sleep. I was in bed before midnight.

Monte Bowlsby and Sharon Snyder relaxing in the main room of the lodge. You can see the Arts and Crafts table in the background.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.
11082003: I slept until 9:30 AM. Bliss!

After I finally pulled myself from bed, I managed to obtain a shower, an omelette (courtesy of the kind Tim Wick), fruity cereal (courtesy of the hotel), and a good hour of cartoons (including a South Park episode and the They Might Be Giants Tiny Toons segments). Alas, no one thought to bring their bootlegged Invader Zim DVDs. Oh well.

Around 11:30ish, I started hanging out in Consuite, where Ethel was making COOKIES! Unfortunately, I couldn't sample any of them, but they were delightful to smell. The hotel smelled like baked chocolate all day.

Around 2-ish, I decided that all I really wanted to do was sleep. So I did.

I woke up at 5 PM. When I eventually stumbled to life, I discovered that the Arts and Crafts table was in full swing. This year, Windy decided to supply the convention with generic Twinkies, along with glitter, pipe cleaners, glue, and construction paper. I spent the next hour and a half playing with Twinkie art. I eventually became inspired and made a headhunter canoe out of a Twinkie. I was nearly finished with my little diorama when dinner hit at 6:30 PM.

Dinner was tastier and less expensive than last year, but the delivery methods left something to be desired. I was done with my gyro well before Christopher even got his dinner. However, it was great chatting with the folks at the table about Matrix Revolutions, especially since I've never had the pleasure of meeting Amada or Romeo before. Amada had appeared at dinner in formal wear. It was delightful to watch her eat fried chicken while wearing a tiara and an evening gown.

After dinner, I continued to be mildly antisocial by continuing my time with the Twinkie art. After finishing my headhunter canoe, I made a second scene, this one involving zombies crawling out of fresh Twinkie graves. It wasn't as good as the first creation, but I felt quite satisfied afterwards.

I then went back to bed and slept for another hour. I just couldn't get enough sleep.

After that, I got up. I dangled my feet in the hot tub again. I found the Pretty Pretty Playtime event, which involves a lot of women and men playing with eyeshadow, nail polish, and hair toys. I became a bit more social as Alis Gray kindly painted my fingernails for me (I couldn't hold anything in my left hand, including a nail polish brush). My nails were now the color of beetle wings. Alis is the best!

Soon afterwards, midnight hit, so I had the pleasure of witnessing Eric Knight's surprise "You're a Bad Geek" birthday party. Some of the best moments of the evening were witnessed as Perrin Klumpp started telling stories about explosives.

Finally, around 2 AM, I found Christopher finishing up the movie room's viewing of Tremors. After locking up the room, we went to bed. And, despite all my naps, I still slept like a rock.

Playing Spree! with Windy and Monte Bowlsby.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.

DDR in the main room.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.
11092003: I woke up as late as possible on Sunday. 11-ish, I think. Unfortunately, most of the morning before waking was spent dealing with strange house owner nightmares. One of them involved inheriting a giant mansion in which several people were murdered, and I couldn't figure out what to do with the place, and every room just filled me with fear.

Go figure.

The morning was much more pleasant than that. Consuite was set up to do omelettes, so I made myself a wicked pile of rice, scrambled eggs, and salsa. Mmmmm!

Amanda Gordon then pulled me into a game of Spree!, in which I had a delightful time shooting and stealing from my friends.

I then got sucked into many games of Apples to Apples, during which I learned that card games are not made for people with one useful hand. However, this did not stop me from having fun, or from winning a game. This continued until Closing Ceremonies at 4-ish.

Closing was brief but sweet. Winning Twinkie art was announced (no surprise, Barb Pemberton's Psycho scene was the favorite, followed by Rob Withoff's Dracula and Jenni Klumpp's alien autopsy). More chatting and DDR commenced.

Eventually, the trek home began. We listened to the rest of the Soylent Theater CD in the car, stopped for dinner at McDonald's, took Sharon to visit my newly purchased house (where we discovered there was no toilet anymore), took Sharon home, then continued onward to the Wick home for the Dead Dog party.

I showed up to the Dead Dog armed with the long-awaited bootlegged Invader Zim DVDs, but alas, the DVDs would not agree with the DVD player. So no Zim was had after all. The crowd, however, was delightful: Lauren Lenzen, Roadkill, Kerri, Ishmael Williams, Jules, Lex Larson, and Mike Lee were all there along with Tim and Pat Wick. Thus, the conversation carried very late into the evening.

I got home way too late, as is normal, I suppose.

And thus, it was a very low-key weekend. I'd like to thank Christopher so much for helping me through that weekend (and that whole year, for that matter), and Sharon for helping me haul the car out of the street. Thanks also to the faboo people who run Omegacon: Lauren, the Wicks, Ishmael, Windy, Monte, and Mr. and Mrs. Roadkill. You guys put on a kick-butt weekend of slack!

Twinkie Art!
All photos below taken by Melissa Kaercher, 2003. Artist noted where known.
The Twinkie of Power, by Guy Bock.

The Creme Bearer gets stabbed by the Fillinghul...

Snails and slugs, by Monte Bowlsby.

Scene from Terminator 2.

Headhunter scene, by Melissa Kaercher.

Pipecleaner zombies and Twinkie graves, by Melissa Kaercher.

Fun with pipe cleaners!

Sacrificial Smurfs, by Linda Peterson (I believe).

Starbug!

Some creative door signs.

Alien autopsy, by Jenni Klumpp.

Alien love bed? By Amada Maquez.

Psycho scene re-enactment, by Barb Pemberton. The tiles are hand drawn in pencil.

Lovely Dracula mortuary scene by Rob Withoff.

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