Cthulhu Coffee at Supercon 2002
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Ah, a new year, and a new plethora of conventions! The first of them is the divine Supercon 9, a superb relaxacon for road-weary convention addicts like me.

Supercon 9 took place in the zany little town of Rochester, MN, home to both the famed Mayo Clinic and to our minion Dan. Neither Dan nor I had attended this little convention before, but the word on the circuit was that the crowd was small and fun, and that the Consuite served champagne. I can get behind that. So, Dan and I conspired a visit.

Now, I realize that many readers of the Cthulhu Coffee convention reports are looking for the news on guests of honor or events of the convention. Usually, right about here I post a disclaimer that says that I usually miss a lot of the events, panels, and guests entirely, and just write about my personal observations of the convention, which includes much of my personal foibles and antics. Well, that's true here as well, but this time, there really weren't any events or guests to miss out on. This convention tale is completely made up of the foibles and antics of the attendees, since Supercon does not invite guests of honor, hold panels, host gaming, or any events that require planning.

Supercon is a party. It's a three-day party. This is where Minnesota and Iowa fandom come to unwind. Attendance this year hit 64 people, and all of them were determined to revel in Supercon's twin Consuites, which served everything from cheese puffs to smoked oysters to copious amounts of alcohol. And I can tell you, it was a blast.

So, without further ado, here is my (Melissa's) Supercon 2002 report, complete with alien high-diving.

01252002 It was 2:30 PM, and I was speeding away from work as fast as the Nyarlathotep Soul Processor (translation: my black Saturn SC1) could sub-legally speed. It was a gorgeous day in Minnesota, the likes of which are never seen in January. The sun was gleaming, the air was warm (well, above freezing), and the roads were dry and crying out to be traveled upon. I had packed my bags that morning so I could zoom away from work and race directly for the convention.

The drive from Minneapolis to Rochester is only about two hours, but once I realized that I had forgotten to switch out the same 12 CDs that I had in my car for the last eight months, that trip seemed to double in length. I can only listen to the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack so many times.

Fast forward to 5:00 PM. Despite the fact that I had grabbed maps off of both MapQuest and MapsOnUs, I got lost in Rochester. This was fairly depressing, since Rochester's downtown is only about five blocks wide.

5:05 PM. I ripped up the maps and threw them in the back seat. I began to use my patented Zen Driving Technique, which mostly involves driving in random directions. The first corner I turned, I found a billboard for the 5th Street Best Western, which is exactly where I was trying to go. It simply said to take a left on Center Street, five blocks ahead. Zen Driving had saved me once again!

I finally made it into a parking spot and into the hotel. The Best Western was a tiny little place, but what a spot for a convention! The first floor housed the lobby, a breakfast nook, a pool, a sauna, and a hot tub. The second floor held a common area, surrounded by cabanas. The third and fourth floor were also all cabanas; the upper three floors were arranged on balconies over the pool. I instantly began to wonder what sort of things I could toss into the pool from the fourth floor.

I checked in without incident, claiming a room on the third floor. As I walked my bag up to my room, I was able to look down into the commons area and see what was going on. Only about five people had assembled, but I recognized one of them as Charles Piehl, who was the auctioneer at ICON 2001 (and, incidentally, the founder of Supercon).

I got into my room, and immediately knew that if I ever needed a hotel room in Rochester again, this is where I would go. The room was quite large and included a little kitchenette with a fridge and a microwave. The beds were also quite comfy. In fact, I promptly fell asleep.

I woke up about a half hour later, refreshed from the drive and ready to face the convention. Few people were there yet, so I checked in at the registration desk (well-equipped with a Lite Brite) and went off to check out the Consuite. I had heard magnificent things about this Consuite. One year, legend has it, it doled out caviar. Another year, it sported more chocolate than anyone had ever seen in one place, before or since. It was also famed for serving champagne. Consuite is the one thing that Supercon really spends it money on, thus explaining the existence of such treats.

ConsuiteI walked in hoping to get a glimpse of whatever delicacies would be served this weekend, but instead was treated to something better. For there, setting up the Consuite, was the Great and Wonderful Linda Peterson, good friend and head of Parties for CONvergence. We hadn't seen each other since CONvergence 2001, so we were thrilled to have our paths cross here. We did the usual catching up while I helped her set up the Consuite.

About an hour passed this way, and while we set up the room, various and sundry people showed up at the little convention. Since I had never attended this convention before, I expected to know only a couple people. I soon found this not to be the case. Apparently, I turned into Ted for a weekend, because I literally knew 90% of the people who were showing up. Dan, of course, turned up as expected, but so did fellow Cthulhu Coffee minion Kyle, making for a total minion saturation of 4.7% and thrilling me to no end. Many of the CONvergence heads showed up: Tim and Pat Wick, Windy Merrill, Ishmael Williams, and Christopher Jones (who I finally met later that weekend) all put in an appearance. Linda's hubby Anton turned up, as well as Jim and Rhonda, whom I know from my early con-hopping days at pre-implosion Minicon. Even someone I knew from high school turned up -- his real name is Chris, but I only knew him as Squeegee, even though everyone else now knows him as Monte.

Okay, I know the world is small, but Monte/Squeegee is now dating Windy Merrill, who I worked with at GE, along with Tim and Pat Wick, whom I also worked with at the MN Renaissance Festival along with Ishmael Williams.

Anyway, more people gathered in the commons area, and there was much mingling and chatting. Only about half of the convention population was wearing shoes.

7:00 rolled around, and it was time for Opening Ceremonies. Everyone sat in folding chairs in the commons area while the heads of the convention gathered at the front. Charles assumed the duty of running the ceremonies (or ceremony, as defined by Michael Sheard), introducing the department heads and generally entertaining everyone. He announced that Supercon would have one event this year, its very own art show. Ishmael had brought along a plethora of art materials, so anyone caring to contribute to the show should use them to express themselves. All Art Show art had to be created that weekend, and it would be auctioned on Saturday night.

Charles then announced that there would be one panel, and that they might as well do it now. He shooed away the convention heads and announced that the "Four Nifty People" panel would begin.

"Anyone who has been a Nifty Person in past years, please stand up." A good portion of the audience stood up. "Who were the Nifty People last year?" Only a few people were standing. He then asked each Nifty Person to pick a new Nifty Person that had never been a Nifty Person before.

Squeegee/Monte, Jim, Rhonda, and Tim were all selected as the Four Nifty People. Each of the new Nifty People were asked to join Charles at the front of the room. Charles then quizzed them on questions like, "What's your favorite book or movie?" and "Why did you join fandom?"

When that was finished, everyone dispersed, and Kyle invited me up to his room for some Scotch. Since drinking Scotch with Kyle is one of the finer joys in life, I gladly accepted, selecting a fine amber drink from the small armada of bottles he brought with him to Rochester. We chatted a bit and re-joined the convention.

I had just drained my glass when Ishmael came up to me and invited me to his room. I wasn't sure what for, so I just said, "Not right now."

"Do you know what I'm referring to?" he asked.

"Um, I think so..." Knowing Ish, I was fairly certain he was referring to joining him in drinking some other fine alcohol, but I wasn't quite certain.

"I have a bottle of cask-strength Clynelish."

"I am so there."

On our way through the lobby, Ish and I gathered Charles, Kyle, and a gent I only know as Markiee, and the five of us went to Ish's room for yet more Scotch.

ToenailsAs is tradition in our group, the rest of us situated ourselves while Kyle stood up with the bottle of Scotch and gave us the rundown of what it was: the area of Scotland it comes from, the methods used in its creation, and what flavors to look for. I don't remember any of this, but his explanation of this particular bottle of Clynelish included the definition of "cask-strength". A cask-strength Scotch is basically Scotch concentrate. It is straight from the cask, unfiltered, with no water added. In order to enjoy it, you pour a very small amount in a glass, add a few drops of spring water, and smell the concoction as the natural flavors and odors come out. Ish poured the Scotch into glasses for everyone, and we all passed around a bottle of water and drizzled a little water into the glasses. We then toasted and tasted -- and it was divine. Its a pity that cask-strength Clynelish isn't available in the United States. A friend brought it from overseas for Ish as a gift.

We all lazed about for a while, appreciating this fine gift. I felt very honored to be included in this small group. We chatted idly about various things, primarily about Charles's work as a minister who performs rather liberal weddings, and about fandom. We noted that every last person at this convention was heavily involved in fandom in some way, to which I quipped, "This convention is made up of cask-strength fandom."

We got a giggle out of that, and idly continued on in conversation.

We all rejoined the convention about a half-hour later, pleased with life and having a good time. I wandered about, saying hello to friends and munching on snacks in Consuite, which is where I ran into Jim again. We chatted a while; I hadn't seen him since CONvergence, so we had a little catching up to do. During our conversation, he brought up Loren Bottner, and I, out of habit, cried out, "Uncle Loren!"

Some back story: Loren Bottner's sister married my uncle. About five years ago, I volunteered as a Ranger for Minicon, and I ran into him for the first time there. I had to sit for a couple minutes, saying, "Bottner... I know that name... Hey, I'm related to you!" This spooked him a little, but it wasn't until he discovered that I was dating his old friend Ted that he really got creeped out. Yes, Loren, you might someday find yourself related to Ted.

So I said to Jim, "No, really, Loren is my uncle. Once removed, but he's my uncle."

Jim stared at me. "Really? REALLY?" He began to look devious. Very devious. Picking on Loren is great sport, and Jim looked like he hit information pay dirt.

Pity Loren wasn't there. We would have had fun...

Kyle and LindaI later found myself hovering in the commons area near one of the couches. Linda, Kyle, and a gent named Brian were all chatting, and someone mentioned the city of Gibraltar, to which I commented, "That is the nosiest place on the planet."

Kyle heartily agreed. I was astonished to find that someone else on this planet has also visited Gibraltar, but I wasn't so surprised that that person was Kyle. We began trading Gibraltar stories, which I won't really get into here (if you want to hear either of our Gibraltar stories, corner us at a convention and hand us alcohol... we will entertain you for hours). In short, Gibraltar is the noisiest place on the planet because I swear it is home to the largest population of seagulls on the planet, and they scream at the Barbary apes, who scream back and scare the gulls, causing them to scream... gah. Kyle added that the airstrip and the foghorn are also notable noisemakers, neither of which I had the displeasure of experiencing during my visit.

Now, I never knew that anyone could top my Gibraltar story, which involved gastroenteritis, at least two species of cockroaches, and kidney pie. It is my favorite adventure tale to tell, because not many people have visited this odd city. But Kyle topped it. His Gibraltar tale involved the foghorn, barracks, tents, yet more cockroaches, and an ape that stole his wallet. To see the two of us telling Gibraltar tales to one another must have been a sight to behold.

A little later, Kyle and Linda both drifted away, and Brian and I wound up making each other's acquaintance. We probably chatted for an hour or two; he was an interesting chap, labeled with the moniker "Medtronic of Borg" on his convention badge because of his recent pacemaker acquisition. He was a nurse that previously made a living as an opening act for Marcel Marceau. If that doesn't make a person interesting, I don't know what does.

While chatting with Brian, I also made the acquaintance of John, a rather mischievous gentleman who seemed to have an odd fascination with several inflatable alien toys that someone had left laying around. There were five of the things, each one a couple feet high, manufactured out of green plastic. He was busy making bondage clothes for one of them out of duct tape.

A bit later in the evening (it was probably past midnight at this point), I found myself in Kyle's room again, both of us rather well off in alcohol impairment. As we enjoyed yet another glass of fine Scotch, we began trading tales again. This time, I mentioned the Thai whiskey that I had the displeasure of ingesting at Loscon, and, dammit, he topped my Thai whiskey story, too. His Thai whiskey story includes a brawl between marines and sailors in Thailand, as well as a run-in with a cobra. Dammit... though it does go to show you that Thai whiskey is truly an evil, vile thing, not meant to be ingested by humans.

Mental note to self... have Kyle do a weekly storytelling session for Cthulhu Coffee...

We later rejoined the body of the convention, and I found myself in Consuite talking with Tim Wick. Some backstory here: I have for several years thought that I was somehow basically offensive to Tim. He and I both worked at GE Capital Fleet Services for several years, we both work at the MN Renaissance Festival, and we both kept running into each other at CONvergence (he being on the convention committee and all). Despite our paths crossing so much, he always seemed a bit creeped out when I ventured to strike up conversation.

So, there I was in Consuite with Tim and Dan, and the three of us managed to get into a great conversation about movies. Tim loves movies with a passion, and he is planning to open a movie theater cafe, much like the Alamo Cinema Grill in Texas. We talked about that, we discussed Fellowship of the Ring, got into talking about director Peter Jackson... We yakked for quite a while. It was a little odd to finally strike up a conversation with Tim after all these years, so I finally observed that he usually just looked at me funny when I tried to talk with him before. As I suspected, he was creeped out that I turned up everywhere out of coincidence, even at his workplace. Mystery solved.

A bit later, John came into Consuite and asked me and a few other to join in a "geek intervention". His friend, a rather attractive young lady, was having problems admitting she was a geek. She was quite fluent in Linux and could quote Monty Python, but still would not admit to being a geek. Thus, we all gathered around her and offered wisdom like, "Be true to your inner geek," and, "A geek is not a nerd!" and the ever popular, "JOIN US!"

After that diversion, I wound up chatting some more with Brian. A fellow named KJ joined the conversation, and together we wound up prying lots of really gross and bizarre medical stories out of Brian. My favorite tale was the person with the pool ball trapped in his mouth, though there is a tale about a cucumber that I won't be able to shake for some time.

Sometime after that, John came up to me, holding a green inflatable alien, and we began discussing the possibilities of alien programming for the convention. I'm not sure who came up with the idea of alien high-diving, but it was certainly a winner, and we decided that we would have competitive alien high-diving at midnight on Saturday, along with a finale of alien bondage high-diving (we would tape the aliens together in a clump).

Hanging AlienWe walked out into the common area during this discussion, and it was soon decided that we should use at least one alien for interior decoration. We looked at each other, grinned like hyenas, and dashed off to grab a spool of kite twine from his room.

Within minutes, we had one alien strung between the balconies of third floor, hovering over the registration table.

[Now, this is where I must have had enough alcohol, because my notes here say, "Hung out w/John, Charles, Pat and others -- talk politics" and "New project unveiling @ Demicon." I remember none of this, despite the fact that talking politics with Charles must have been an interesting conversation indeed, and that the new project would have been just the sort of juicy gossip to spill here -- whatever it was.]

[Oh, wait... now I remember...]

After festooning the hotel with the alien, John and I walked past one of the cabana rooms which was still hopping with activity. Pat and Charles were heading up a conversation about convention politics, with several other people listening intently (Monte was there, so was Markiee, I think). John and I sat in for a few minutes, but our attention span was interrupted when we both realized that it was 3:15 AM, and no one had locked up Consuite.

We both excused ourselves and went back downstairs to the two Consuite rooms. Nobody was there, so we did a cursory cleanup, took out the garbage, put the perishables away, and finally shut off the lights and closed the doors.

I figured that was a good close to the evening. I dragged myself back up to my third floor room, scrawled my notes about the day [I still can't remember what that "Demicon project" note was about], and fell promptly asleep.

01262002 My screwy sleep cycle promptly woke me up at 8:00 AM. I promptly fell back asleep. I love being on vacation.

10:00 AM was a much better time to wake up. I could hear some activity going on outside, so I ambled to the bathroom and treated myself to a really long, hot shower. Did I mention I love being on vacation? I think I should also mention I love showers in hotels... the hot water never runs out.

Finally feeling like I could face the day, I shunned my shoes and walked barefoot down to Consuite. Linda was there, making waffles.

She was making waffles with a Hello Kitty waffle iron.

Little Hello Kitty-shaped waffles.

For breakfast.

I love the idea of Consuite serving waffles, but something about eating wafflized head of Hello Kitty first thing in the morning is vaguely disturbing to me.

Tim and his cheese puffsI helped myself to a hearty (and no doubt healthy) breakfast of kosher dill pickles, Hello Kitty waffles, and cheese puffs. I was soon joined by Tim, Windy, Dan, Jim, Squeegee (er, Monte), and Brian, who all cycled into the room at one time or another, and we all had a good time chattering with whoever was in the room at the time. I sprawled out on my stomach on one of the beds and proceeded to idly unravel the bedspread while chatting. Kyle even appeared in his Cthulhu Coffee shirt.

A few hours went by in this fashion, and then I somehow wound up being pulled into a discussion group, led by Charles and the convention committee, about what Supercon should be in the future. Basically, it was where everyone could make suggestions for next year's Supercon 10. A lot of suggestions centered around food, such as whether a catered dinner for Saturday night would be a good idea, or doing a potluck thing, who has allergies to what, and so on. Then Linda brought up that the hotel's coffee was terrible, and I commented, "Are you saying that the Cthulhu Coffee room party should put in an appearance here next year?"

Everyone beamed. "Are you volunteering?" Charles grinned.

"Aw, crap, did I say that out loud?"

So, it's official. The Cthulhu Coffee room party will operate at Supercon 10 next year as well as CONvergence.

After some more debating over hotel space, advertising, and such, the meeting dissolved, and I soon found myself in the commons space. Several people were making use of the copious amounts of games and toys provided by the convention; at least three jigsaw puzzles were in progress. At a loss for something to do, and dreading the idea of doing a jigsaw puzzle at a convention, I went in search of those art supplies. Dammit, I was going to have an entry in the art show, even though I had no idea what to do.

I found several markers and some paper in the meeting room we just exited, and absconded with them to the commons area. I grabbed one of the board game boxes for a drawing surface and I plunked my butt on the floor.

So I stared at the paper for a while, hoping for an idea to strike.

Dan had the same idea. He sat at one of the tables with a pencil and some paper and began cartooning. Unlike me, he actually does have an art degree, and is quite good.

So I stared at the paper some more.

Finally, I remembered my "cask-strength fandom" comment from the night before, and I thought it would be cute to make a cartoon of it and give it to Ishmael for his generosity with the Clynelish. I grabbed the Crayola markers and scribbled down a cartoon bottle, labeled it "Cask-Strength Fandom", and wrote "Supercon" down the side of the paper. It wasn't great, but I only invested a couple minutes in it. I took my creation into the programming room, which was where we were supposed to tape our art to the walls.

I hung my cartoon next to a couple other drawings. I then grabbed another piece of paper and walked back out into the commons area. I had my creative juices flowing now, and I didn't want to quit my scribbling yet.

Dan's drawing was going quite well. He was going over his light pencil marks with a heavier line.

I plunked my butt down on the floor and wondered what else to draw.

Then I looked up, and I saw an alien.

Perfect! I grabbed about six different shades of green markers and began drawing a green inflatable alien.

Some artists excel in paints, others in sculpture. My true medium is ink, and more specifically markers. I spent eight years taking art classes at the U of M, and despite playing with every conceivable medium, I love ink. During the most recent class I had, I drew the models only in different shades of gray marker. I love the medium -- it is utterly unforgiving. You have to make marks with confidence.

So, there I was, scribbling with green markers. After about ten minutes, I finally had a little green alien.

Then I looked at the paper. Now what? He didn't have a background, and he looked a little lonely just alone on that white paper. I picked up the paper and thought for a while.

Then I thought about cutting him out.

A paper doll.

Paper dolls need clothes!

So, I ran down to the front desk and asked the clerk if I could borrow her scissors. I cut the little alien from the paper, then dashed back upstairs for more paper. I traced out a blue taffeta dress, a Sailor Moon jumpsuit, an "alien autopsy" set of green scrubs, a fez and a cowboy hat for the doll, complete with fold-over tabs. I then dashed back to the front desk and cut the clothes out as well. Eureka!

Excited about my alien cut-out doll, I raced back to the programming room to hang it on the wall. Once I got there, I saw that there was something new on the wall, just beneath my cask-strength fandom cartoon. It was a sign that read:

"NOT FOR SALE! Next year's cover art! Would the artist please see Becca or Ish."

I was in shock. By that time, Dan had come in, and was hanging up his drawing. He got all excited and congratulated me. After the surprise wore off, I was pretty thrilled, too.

Lazy AfternoonSo, I hung up my alien and his wardrobe and wandered back out into the convention. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon, and not much was going on. Several people were swimming, a lot of people were out at lunch. I decided to go back to my room and take a nap.

I love vacation. Did I mention that?

Around 3:30 PM, I rejoined the land of the living. I entered Consuite and talked literally for hours with Dan, Tim, and comic artist Chris Jones, who I finally had the pleasure of meeting after all these years.

Chris does all of the Connie artwork for CONvergence, and was the penciller for the Re-Animator comic. Since he's head of publications for CONvergnece, you'd think I would have met him by now... especially since we got along famously once our paths finally did cross.

So, Chris, Tim, Dan and I debated movies for hours. I mean, HOURS. I laid on my stomach on that bed for FOUR HOURS talking movies. Tim was entrenched on the couch with a barrel of cheese puffs and hoovered his way through a significant portion of the barrel in the time we spent talking about Harry Knowles, Peter Jackson, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the upcoming Spiderman movie, and anything related.

Eventually, Brian and his wife, The Weather Goddess, joined the conversation, which was fine until someone (it may have been me), asked Tim what he thought of A.I. Tim and I gushed over the merits of the movie for a few moments before Brian and The Weather Goddess voiced their disbelief that we could love an awful movie like that. Drop-down, tear-down, heated debate and personal attacks ensued. Not the most pleasant convention experience, but it was, if anything, a very interesting debate. Tim, I think, is the only person I've met who actually understood the purpose of the bizarre 20 minute coda at the end of the film; even I missed it. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie again, so I can see it in a new perspective. Tim noted that all of Kubrick's films end in a third act that purposely disrupts the audience and incites debate. In that perspective, I suddenly saw A.I.'s bizarre finish as an appropriate Kubrick ending, instead of a syrupy Spielberg add-on. I'll have to have another look.

Art ShowFinally, 8:00 PM rolled around, and it was time for the Art Auction. The room was packed with people. The show had accumulated about 15 pieces. One woman had made several origami dragons for the show, along with a large origami Enterprise (!). Someone else had picked up one of those velour-coloring kits and entered two of those into the show. One person had traced their hand, turned it into a turkey a la grade school art class, and labeled it, "Mie Enniyr Chylde". A couple landscapes and portraits rounded out the selection.

Charles, once again, was auctioneer. He was joined by Ishmael and a woman clad in a tight leather dress (she was this evening's Vanna White).

"Welcome to Supercon's first art auction," Charles began. "Proceeds will go to the Supercon Blizzard Fund."

The Blizzard Fund covers convention expenses in case of horrendous January weather, the sort of which tends to occur in Minnesota in wintertime. It was a fine cause to raise money for. I had asked Charles earlier about how much money he expected to get out of this event. He replied, "About ten bucks."

Charles continued. "One note about the selections this evening. This item here," he pointed at my cask-strength fandom cartoon, "IS for sale. It will be the final item in the auction. As it will be next year's program cover, the buyer will need to leave their address so we can scan the artwork first and then send it to you."

Uh-oh. I was hoping I could at least re-ink the art before it would be published.

The first item off the wall was that of a giant eye, rendered in fluorescent watercolor.

"Bidding begins at 25 cents, moving up in increments of a nickel."

The first few items went for a buck or two. Then, one of the origami dragons went up for sale, and it went for $4. The next dragon went for -- oooh! -- $5.

Soon, Dan's drawing was on the block. Charles asked the artist to identify himself, and Dan raised his hand.

"You did this? Keep it up!"

Dan's sketch went for $3.

Soon, the origami Enterprise was up for sale. It was pretty neat, I have to admit. It was formed out of holographic Christmas wrapping out of two sheets of paper. It went for $10.

Eventually, my alien wardrobe set was up for sale. As he was describing the items to the audience, his voice mounted in disbelief. "...and this alien comes with autopsy garb, a... blue ball gown? A fez? And what is that... Oh, my God, is that a Sailor Moon outfit?!?" My little alien set went for $5.

Finally, it came down to the cask-strength fandom cartoon. Bidding started at $0.25, but soon broke $10.

Then $20 was reached.

Ish ran out into the commons area, found Kyle, and dragged him into the room. He told Kyle to explain cask-strength Scotch to the audience.

$30.

I began to sink a little lower in my seat. Please, I thought, just let me re-ink it.

It was about then that the leather-clad runner began playing off the men in the audience. She would run to the next bidder with the cartoon in hand and bend down low so they could get a good look at... the picture, presumably. The audience was roaring with laughter. That's what I call brilliant upselling.

No Shoes$40.

Oh, crap, I thought, even as I was laughing at the antics of the runner and the bidders. I sketched the thing in three minutes, and it looks terrible... Whoever buys it will want the thing left as is....

$50.

...especially if they just spent $50 on that piece of crap.

The audience was now chanting, "Bid the badge!" One of the bidders, badge #55, was contemplating upping the $50 bid while he bargained to have the runner lean a little lower...

$55.

$59.

$61.

Sold.

Grand applause followed. The auction had raised a total of $91.75 for the Blizzard Fund, and Charles was ecstatic. I felt a little funny that Dan and I had single-handedly raised 75% of the total take of the auction, but I have a hard time not feeling pleased as well.

After the crowd dispersed, I asked Charles if he would do another art show for next year's convention.

"DEFINITELY!"

We then talked about the extraordinary performance of my Scotch cartoon, and about how I was rather embarrassed that it was so carelessly done, and that the audience didn't seem to care. He noted that if an audience is having a good time, they will bid on anything.

I then talked to Chris about my predicament. He said, "I feel your pain."

A few minutes later, I found myself in the Consuite with the rest of the convention attendees, making a toast to Charles, the man who founded Supercon. I sat down next to Linda and gurgled down some champagne. We decided to get tanked.

OystersI ordered an Iron Butterfly from the bar and perused the evening's Consuite offerings. There was a tremendous spread of smoked foods: oysters, salmon, cheeses... There were nine varieties of smoked oysters alone. THIS is what I call a Consuite.

The Iron Butterfly disappeared too fast, so I got another one and went out into the commons area. Feeling a touch antisocial (and now tipsy), I sat down in front of one of the just-started jigsaw puzzles. Someone had already finished the border of the puzzle, which was an image of a Japanese garden. I stared at it drunkenly and decided that doing jigsaw puzzles while drunk is infinitely more entertaining than doing them while sober. It's also an excellent sobriety test.

So I stared at about thirty pieces of puzzle, all of which were emblazoned with tiny pink flowers. I didn't make much progress for the first 20 minutes or so.

While I was pondering these little pieces, several people came up to chat. I remember talking a bit with Dan and Chris, but I don't remember what about. I think it all related to how a jigsaw puzzle makes an excellent sobriety test.

A little later, I began to make progress, and Brian came up and chatted a bit. I distinctly remember talking about Lake Tanganyika cichlids with him while making excellent progress on the puzzle. I decided I was far too sober and went back for one more Iron Butterfly.

I then wound up in the second Consuite room, tied up with more Kyle stories. He was particularly well pickled, so his tales were flowing fast and furious. I remember parts of a story involving an armadillo... and something about sharks... and anacondas... But try as we might, we could not pry out of him the story of why his nickname in the Navy was "Moose". Of course, after Kyle left the room, we were left to our own devices to come up with theories and gossip about "Moose" Lerfald.

After yet another bout of movie debates with Tim, Chris, and Dan, I ran into John. It was 3:00 AM, and we hadn't done alien high-diving yet! We dashed off in search of the remaining inflatable aliens, found two spools of kite string, handed my digital camera to Dan, and ran to third floor balcony.

John and I each selected an alien, and tied it to the end of the spool of kite string. Then, John leaned over the balcony and tossed over the alien, letting the string play out as the alien fell into the pool two floors below. He then reeled the alien back up with the string, ready for another toss.

This was absurdly fun. I took my alien and tossed him... and promptly dropped the spool of string with it.

John and I looked at each other with that, "Oh, crap!" look. John took off downstairs, no doubt trying to figure out how he was going to get into the pool area past the hotel's front desk clerk.

Sunset Boulevard, all alien castSomehow, he got in, because in a couple minutes, he appeared below us and began fishing the string and alien out of the pool. It looked like a bizarre reenactment of Sunset Boulevard. The front desk matron was glaring at him the whole time.

You'd think this sort of thing would have convinced us to stop dropping things off the balcony into the pool.

Yes, you'd think that, wouldn't you?

But, you know, when you're still reasonably pickled and it's almost 4:00 AM at a convention, throwing things off a balcony is pretty damn fun.

So, when John came back upstairs, alien high-diving proceeded as planned. We would toss the aliens off, let them hit the water, then reel them in quickly so the front desk matron wouldn't see them. It was absurdly fun.

We eventually moved to the balcony over the commons area. I began to play what I called "Fishin' for Fans" by dangling the alien in midair in front of Consuite, just to see who would bat at it. That later morphed into using the alien as a marionette, marching him across the floor of the commons.

Alas, this sort of play is not much fun if there isn't an audience, and since it was around 4:00 AM, there weren't many people still awake. John and I decided it was time to shut down the Consuite again. (I'm still not sure why we kept winding up being the clean up crew.) So, being the responsible people we are (insert guffaw of laughter here), we cleaned up the Consuite rooms, shut off the lights, and locked up.

Alien High-DivingI went right to bed from there. The clock read 4:30 AM.

01272002 Somehow, I awoke promptly at 9:00 AM. Grr. At least, I figured, I would be able to get breakfast goodies in the hotel's breakfast nook. (They offered a continental breakfast with the room.) So I showered, got dressed in my Cthulhu Coffee shirt, and wandered shoeless downstairs.

Surprisingly, several people were already awake. Windy, Monte, Jim, Anton, and Linda were already breakfasting at one of the large tables, so I pulled up a chair and chatted with them for a while. Monte and Windy are so cute a couple it is beyond belief. If they ever have kids, they will implode from their own cuteness. I hesitate to use the word cute, but there just isn't any other term that describes these two.

One by one, everyone wandered off, and I was joined by Kyle and Dan. The three of us chatted idly until Kyle declared that he had to be heading back home. He departed, and Dan and I went back up to the commons area.

That is where Becca, the convention chair, asked John and I to do a repeat performance of Alien High-Diving because they wanted photos of it for the website. Since my digital camera was out of space, we pulled a guy out of the crowd to document the event. John and I then dashed off, tied up our aliens again, and this time dropped them off the fourth floor balcony. This time, we tried for grievous errors -- one alien clobbered himself on the pool ladder, the other smacked into the concrete. I also learned that, even though inflatable aliens aren't very aerodynamic, they could still hit Chris Jones in the head from four floors away. We finally did Alien Bondage Diving, too, though this wasn't as amusing as we thought it would be.

Alien in bathroomOnce the novelty of this wore off, we reeled in our aliens and rejoined the convention. I chatted with Pat and Tim for a few minutes. Apparently, they are beginning yet another convention, named Omegacon (as of 02/05/02, site not up yet), and they were passing out flyers. This new relaxacon will be taking place in Siren, WI, at a quaint hunting lodge in November. I didn't give them a definite answer that I would attend -- that would make three conventions I have to attend in November -- but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. Besides, if I can have a room named the "Muskrat Love" room, that's worth the price of admission right there.

After that, I chatted with Chris Jones a bit more. He was working on convincing me to attend a Scrimshaw Brothers show the following week (and succeeded).

Closing ceremonies (er, ceremony) weren't scheduled until 3:00 PM, but as everyone seemed to be anxious to head for home, Charles came out to the commons area and announced that closing ceremonies were beginning right now (it was around 1:00 PM). Brief closing comments were made, good-byes were said, and everyone dispersed onto the Minnesota highways.

And that's the wild tale of Supercon 9. I'd like to greatly thank Kyle and Dan for being People of Great Indesposability. Also, many humble thanks to Ishmael for sharing his divine Scotch with me, and to whoever brought those inflatable aliens to the convention.

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2004

The Butt-Numb-a-Thon
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Midwest FurFest
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Omegacon
A convention full of marshmallowy goodness!

San Diego Comic Con
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CONvergence
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OdysseyCon
More panels than you can shake a stick at, and the identity of episode GGG.

Supercon
Supercon's first year in the land of Spam.

2003

The Butt-Numb-a-Thon
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Omegacon
Sleep, sleep, and more sleep. And Twinkies.

Arcana
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San Diego Comic Con
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CONvergence
Shriners. Play-Doh. Captain Caveman.

World Horror Convention
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OdysseyCon
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Supercon
"I'm telling you right now, this is all going to end on an ice floe."

2002
The Butt-Numb-a-Thon
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Loscon
More party prowling in California, with cameo appearances by Larry Niven and Nichelle Nichols.

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