Overall, Balticon was a success. I don't want to make this sound like, "Balticon usally sucks," but in recent years, I felt it was drying up, which made me sad because Balticon has a place in my heart for many good reasons: my first con away from home (1984), the first con that introduced me to the concept of anime (1986), and the con I met takayla (1988). But two things were a good sign this weekend: more people, and YOUNG people. Young people, especially a few anime nerds, were a good sign.
I didn't leave for Balticon until late Friday afternoon, since I had a doctor's appointment and had to work from home. Juliet gave me a lift, and we decided to "be smart" and "avoid the main highways." This was not as smart as we planned, as we hit traffic anyway and like a bajillion stop lights on top of that. Her GPS unit took us through DC via Rt 29 most of the way, and then we got stuck in i83 North when it shut down due to some massive accident. We got lost twice, despite the GPS, mostly due to off-ramps that came too quickly.
I had 4 panels and a reading. I had a panel where I served with greats like Tanya Huff and Jonathan Maberry, which was moderated by Mark Van Name. Wow. I killed. I only had to lie once, too, and I only lost about $15 because of that and some challenges. I heard some interesting stories, from ear sex with a horny cat to a viking funeral for a car. I feel bad about Tanya's 18th birthday, too.
I had a panel about Twitter which ended up being a panel about Heinlein. I had a panel about old fandom which ended up talking about Heinlein. And then I had a panel on Arthur C. Clarke which ended up as a panel about Heinlein. I swear to God, Heinlein's ghost must be having a joke at my expense. The worst was the Clarke Panel, which was moderated by a guy who didn't speak English very well and was famous for being one of Heinlein's friends, and had me, who hadn't read Clarke's works in a while, and a guy who had never really read Clarke at all. "Why were you guys selected to run this panel?" an audience member asked. Good question. Our resident Heinlein expert must have hawked his book (a collection of Heinlein and Heinlein tributes) a dozen times. I ended up being "an expert," and by that I mean selecting the only guy who had first aid training to be the surgeon among castaways on a deserted island. But the whole "Punkie knows Heinlein" started in the mid-90s when a guy running a Heinlein panel after my panel had a massive case of stage fright and asked me to be there "for support." He then clammed up in panic. So I did what I could, which was make some general statements about literature, combine them with conversations I overheard over the years, throw in some titles, and claim controversial things. Then I asked the audience what they thought. This caused a few audience members to debate with one an other, and before we knew it, an hour had passed, and the original host of the panel left to go throw up in a bathroom, I think. But people told me I had run the best Heinlein panel they had ever seen. And I still can't shake the moniker as "Heinlein expert." For the record:
I AM NOT A HEINLEIN EXPERT. I READ 4 OF HIS BOOKS AND THOUGHT THEY WERE JUST "OKAY."
My assistant was Scarlet, as last year. Scarlet acts as a buffer between me and a few people I want to avoid, plus she can do small errands for me and other staff. I found early on that people I wanted to avoid were scared of children. I also found that Scarlet is a hard worker like her older sister and is full of energy and pep. She also has this near magical ability to find candy. I have to admit, I am not a fan of high candy intake (neither are her parents), but I did what I could to keep her active and fed regular food and protein to counteract the massive carb intake. I also tried to give her subtle education on understanding what she was eating. This went about as well as one would expect. So I used her excess energy as best I could to perform errands and keep ME moving. This led to a 17-mile walk over 3 days according to my pedometer, which is pretty darn good for how small the hotel is compared to Katsucon (which I was doing about 10-20 miles a day and lost 5 pounds). I also got a lot of swimming in.
I crashed with awesome roommates. Scarlet slept under a table, which is what I used to do when I first started going to cons. I swear we're not related. I got an inflatable bed (thank you, Katsucon Logistics), and roomed with Paul, Venora, Michelle, Gorm, Chandra, and baby Rachel (who, overall, is a very polite and quiet baby: I have roomed with her and her parents twice now).
I hooked up with a lot of convention planners. Lunacon, Intervention, Philcon, and even some of the smaller cons I had never heard of. I also had an emergency scramble to find a ride to AMA in two weeks since takayla will not be able to make it due to her health. Otakon isn't very far away, either. Neither con will bring me revenue, but I need to be there to support Katsucon, so I will still have a good time.
I also really connected with a few fellow authors. I have been invited to participate in an anthology, plus someone wants some of my other works under her label. I was also given some direction to self-publish Punk Walrus Sagas, so I have a LOT to work on this year. Jesus, I hope I can get it all done. But the publisher has said, "I need to have somebody come with me so that we can break up 'watching the table' times in order for one or both of us to see the rest of the con and meet people," in her recent Facebook notes on Balticon. This will work out great, and I think I think I may do this for her for Intervention.
Balticon made me feel like old fandom combined with new fandom and put me back on track. I hope I can stay the course. Kudos to all the staff, planners, and especially Ops.