Cthulhu Coffee at Omegacon 2004
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There are two conventions on my yearly calendar that fall under the relax-a-con model: Omegacon and Supercon. Basically, both are conventions that specialize in building weekends in which you do basically nothing but relax. Thus, no panels, little to no set programming... just time and a hotel. Usually, you sit around, chat, drink, eat, play games, sleep, and generally be merry.

A game of Apples to Apples in Omegacon Central. Seen here: Mary, Guy Bock, Amada Maquez, Dave Kingsley, and Erica.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.

A particularly loud game of Pit.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.
The problem with these conventions is that they don't really make for good convention reports. In fact, if you don't write things down during the weekend, it's likely the whole thing will blur together in your head before the following week is out.

So, guess what I neglected to do during Omegacon 2004.

I did have fun, as did most, if not all, of my cohorts. Omegacon usually generates a crowd of about 75 people each year, and houses them in a homey lodge in Northern Wisconsin. One weekend of each year, my friends and I spend hours on end sitting in the hot tub, contemplating all the outboard motors that decorate the lobby of the hotel. People play Dance Dance Revolution until you can barely stand to hear the game shout, "It's a new record!" anymore. Tim Wick runs movies upstairs, just in case the board games and bottles of alcohol don't occupy enough of your slacker time. Each year, there is an arts and crafts table, which invites you to mutilate various foods (this year, marshmallows were the target of choice).

It's a great time, but the utter lack of structure means that, in my head, the whole weekend is just one big mash of idle conversations, card games, and naps.

So, instead, I'm going to break with my usual Cthulhu Coffee Report tradition. Rather than attempting a chronological tale, I will attempt instead to relate the weekend in snippets of memory. It's very Catch-22 of me, I know, but it's better for you this way. Really, it is.

In fact, I shall take a hint from my bygone grade-school days...

What I Learned At Omegacon 2004

I still suck at Karoke, but I can lead a room in a rousing rendition of "Day-O." Sometime on Saturday night, Amada decided to run a Karoke machine in her hotel room. Naturally, about ten people gravitated to this spot, including Ethel, her roommate, Alice Marks, and Kelvin Hatle. I was sad that Amada's Karoke collection didn't contain much that I knew, but I did manage to eke out "Day-O." The best rendition of the night, though, was Kelvin doing a fabulous job of singing "Burning Ring of Fire." He's a bass -- who knew?

Amada and Sarah Richard watching TV in the lobby.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.
Russian soda smells like circus peanuts and contains aspartame. Corollary: aspartame sounds the same in Russian. Omegacon's consuite is something to behold. The Lodge was initially built with a caretaker's apartment, which was never put to use. Thus, instead of the caretaker living there, the Lodge just rents out the room. Thus, Consuite resides in an apartment with a full kitchen. This enables the cooking of real food that would confound most consuites. Mr. and Mrs. Roadkill, the consuite gods, have been known to serve up dim sum, omelettes, tacos, hot sandwiches... far beyond the usual bowls of stale Cheetoes usually found in such environments.

Well, this year, they also came stocked with a full bar, courtesy of a fellow named Frost. While they have had alcohol in the past, this was an honest to god bar. As in big wooden thing with bottles on it. And a sink.

To help stock the bar, Alicia came to the convention with a large bottle filled with Russian soda pop. There was a puzzling image of Pinnochio on the bottle, so the few folks at the convention who could read Cyrillic took a crack at reading the bottle. Most of my Russian faculties have left me, but I could at least sound out "aspartame", which meant that I couldn't drink it.

It smelled just like circus peanut candy, which disturbed us all. I hear that it mixed well with vodka, though.

Hanging out in Consuite. Seen here: Monte Bowlsby, Ethel Richardson, Windy Bowlsby, Scott Keever, and other folks whose real names I don't know.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.
My slippers were most likely to eat sanity. On Saturday morning, after the two-hour flood of cartoon shows, Windy Bowlsby decided that there should be a slipper fashion show, as a good portion of the folks at the convention were sporting rather interesting slippers. I entered my pair, which were, of course, Cthulhu slippers. No less than three separate people, including Christopher, were sporting Homer Simpson slippers. Roadkill was wearing moose slippers with a matching antler hat. But the best presentation was made by Eric Knight and Ethel, who danced and sang the "Teddy Bear Song" in their matching slippers.

I can live almost entirely off rice for three straight days. Again, I'd like to stress just how fabulous the Omegacon consuite is. During my whole time at Omegacon, I never had to leave the hotel for food. Aside from the other tasty foods that the consuite was serving up, they constantly had a rice cooker going, so you could always dish up some rice. Which is what I did. A lot.

Guy Bock tending to the gouda.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.
Norwegian goat cheese is really damn tasty. So is good bleu cheese. And gouda is a gift from the gods. Friday night, the convention held a wine and cheese reception, which was attended by pretty much everyone there. I contributed a bottle of Rex Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster pinot noir, while others contributed either cheeses or one of their own favorite bottles. It was a smashing success.

Guy contributed by bringing some of the best cheeses I have ever tasted in my life. I sat with him and Wendy for about an hour and just talked cheese with them. He had brought some Norwegian goat cheese that tasted almost like peanut butter. There was also some really kick-ass bleu cheese, which I relished, as I've never known the stuff to taste good. But the best was the gouda. Guy had brought 6 month old gouda, 1 year old gouda, and 2 year old gouda. The differences were astonishing. It was the tastiest snack-meal I have had in a long time.

The Flash can beat up Robin, and Hawkman can actually beat the snot out of Swamp Thing. It seems that the only time I play Heroclix is at Omegacon, and this law held true in 2004. Linda Peterson insisted at the beginning of the weekend that I teach her how to play, so this is what we did with much of Saturday evening.

We were eventually joined by George Richard and a fellow named Tony, so the four of us had a fine little DC/Marvel/Indy comic character brawl. George had a team that included both Hawkman and The Flash, so he waxed all of us. Even my Swamp Thing eventually fell to Hawkman. Bummer.

House of cheese. I believe this was the work of Rob Withoff.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.

You come from sad whale family deep in ocean. Omegacon's publications usually pick a theme for the year. Omegacon 2002 was themed around Rejected, a short film by Don Hertzfeld. Omegacon 2003 had an Invader Zim bent. This year, a short film named Here Comes Dr. Tran was unleashed upon the masses. We watched it at both the Opening and Closing Ceremony. Like Rejected, it is immensely quotable, and provided many catch phrases for the weekend.

Live comics art creation is a spectator sport. Christopher and I were both on tight comics deadlines that weekend, so on Saturday we both set up shop at a table in the lobby and attempted to get some work done. He was working on breakdowns for the new Batman Strikes! comic book, and I was plowing through coloring Dr. Blink #1. We probably should have known that we wouldn't get much done, because people instantly began hovering around us. I didn't know comics coloring could be so exciting to other people. Ah, well. We did get an admirable amount of homework done, all things considered.

I am a sheep barron. Yes, Frost, Ethel, and Roadkill taught me how to play Settlers of Cattan on Sunday. I feel strangely addicted.

Roadkill, master of Consuite.

Photo by Melissa Kaercher, 2003.
Marshmallows can make "o" faces. The arts and crafts table, once again, was a rousing success, this time with marshmallows as our secret ingredient. I managed to hash together a tribute to Them! using pipe cleaners and hot glue, while others recreated DDR games, Star Wars scenes, and, in one memorable instance, gay porn.

The hot tub can fit more than eight people. I counted fourteen before I decided to hop into the pool.

Alice gives great backrubs. I must take advantage of this next time I run into her.

She-Ra really does suck as much as I remembered. Omegacon tradition deems that the hours between 9 AM and noon on Saturday morning be filled with cartoons. This year, Christopher was responsible for spinning discs, and so we were treated to episodes of Invader Zim, Challenge of the Superfriends, Spider-Man, She-Ra, and Land of the Lost, among other things.

This was made even better by the fact that the Lodge provides a pretty kick-butt continental breakfast. We all got to watch cartoons and eat fruity cereal on Saturday morning. Really, that's the way every Saturday morning should be.

The Guns and Roses song "Live and Let Die" is a cover. No, I didn't know that at the beginning of the weekend.

Mike Lee, hero geek that he is, burned a CD of Bond themes for Christopher and me on Sunday. We drove home with Kelvin, listening to Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, and... Wings? I was blown away. Now that I know that Paul McCartney fathered "Live and Let Die", the universe makes a little more sense to me.

And so, that's about it for Omegacon. I wholeheartedly look forward to returning next year.

I'd like to thank Alice for the mini-backrubs, Amada for the Karaoke, Kelvin for the company while driving, Christopher for much of my care and feeding, and the con staff for all things fabulous.

More People
All photos below taken by Melissa Kaercher, 2003. Artist noted where known.
Ethel in the Big Bear Room.

Extreme close-up of Christopher Jones.

Monte Bowlsby, Captian, and Krystal.

Windy Bowlsby at Opening Ceremony.

Guy and Wendy Bock at the wine and cheese reception.

More games in the Big Bear Room.

Christopher Jones, Tom Hogan, and Mike Lee.

Sharon Snyder, Nate Stohlman, Perrin Klumpp, Dave Kingsley, Tony, and Markiee.

The Big Bear Room in full swing.

Part of the audience at the Saturday Morning Cartoons.

The Big Bear Room on Sunday, during Closing Ceremony.

The Big Bear Room at Closing Ceremony. Note Tim Wick on the floor, attempting to control the DVD player with the DDR pad.

Marshmallow Art!
All photos below taken by Melissa Kaercher, 2003. Artist noted where known.
Planet Yummy

Tomb of the Dead God Mantarok

I'm not sure what this is, but it's cool.

The Spirit of Omegacon

Marshmallow Dance Dance Revolution!

An Incredibles tribute in puffed sugar.

Marshmallow sushi, and Mr. Bill!

Marshmallow porn, courtesy of Rob Withoff.

A tribute to Them! by Melissa Kaercher

The Star Wars Death Star trench chase.

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