Wow, a lot can happen in a month. This year is zipping by like Speedy Gonzales on 2 liters of Mountain Dew. Yeepa yeepa!
One event worth noting, of course, was Imaginecon <http://web.archive.org/web/20001213184000/http://www.punkwalrus.com/cybertusk/imaginecon.html>. Really gave me food for thought about how to define a "disaster." Here's my *short* version of the con review, for a guest's POV.
The whole effect seemed like Imaginecon really had their stuff together ... about 18 months ago. Ever since about summer of last year, they fell apart organizationally. They had poor contact with me and other guests, a loose sense of organization, wouldn't answer e-mail, and it seemed that they had a massive communication gap between their own departments. This really was brought to light during the con.
* I didn't know what panels or when to go to them until a few weeks before (when I found I was moderating them). The schedule changed four times in two weeks, and when I got to the con, I found they changed again. Then they changed *again* on Friday. They never published the changes on a sheet, they just posted them in front of the rooms. The old schedule was unreadable anyway, since they divided the schedule by room, not by time.
* If I didn't complain and make a fuss, I would have been royally screwed out of a book signing. As it was, they just had me sit in Mark Rainey's slot, because he didn't show. I did eventually sell five books, but only two of them at the signing.
* Did they say 15,000-20,000? Official count was 1223. While over 1,000 is actually fairly good for a first con, when you add the cost of all that function space ... it must have been a financial disaster for them. But Dragoncon fronted the money, so they may have been able to take a hit that big.
* The only things worth seeing was the Merchant's room, and most of my merchant friends barely broke even at best, or suffered huge losses at worst. I think Tiger told me they finally broke even on Sunday, but many merchants closed shop (including their main sponsor, Barnes and Noble and two radio stations) by Saturday night. Some merchants stayed open, but left their stuff unguarded because it was so dead. My biggest panel had eight audience members, most had two. Some panels just never happened. Rocky Horror started out with maybe 80 audience members, but by the halfway point (when I left), it was down to about 20 people. The video rooms had no schedule, and were unlisted.
* Some of the guests were cool, but even Larry Elmore was alone at his table most of the time. I got to meet many guests, and a lot of us banded together simply because we were trying to form a self-sustaining survival group trying to sort out when and what the latest programming changes were. I met Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo from the old Battlestar Galactica series), Julie Cole (played Veruca Salt in the Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka), Yvonne Craig (the original "Batgirl" and played the green dancing lady in the old Star Trek series), Shannon Baska (Mara Jade), and "Geek Beauty" winner, Chase Masterson. I also met a lot of fellow authors, like Ann and Mel Melrose, Jody Nye, Julie Parks, Bud Webster, Lawrence Watt-Evans (who didn't remember me from the FanTek writer's group days:(...), and Gary Gygax (writer of various RPGs, including the granddaddy of them all, Dungeons and Dragons). Some of the guests didn't make the program book, which pissed many off. Half the guests scheduled didn't show, I assume having the same problems with the con communication that I did. I also heard that I wasn't the only one screwed out of a book signing. To be fair, there were so little people at the con, if I hadn't made friends at the con, I would have been alone like most of the other authors at that table. Julie Parks was particularly sad about this.
* The green room was usually closed. The con suite was very small, the size of a normal hotel room (sans beds).
* In Imaginecon's defense, however, the Doubletree hotel apparently backed out of the contract a week before the con. A brief investigation found that half of their function space was *under renovation* (like exposed drywall, no carpeting, construction equipment, and so on), and during Saturday there was a large wedding which was guarded by a rude lady with too much makeup. So the hotel didn't have half the space they promised, plus they double-booked the rest of the space. I am not sure who to blame for that, but the hotel was rude to everyone, so I will happily blame them. In fact, a large merchant contingent decided the hotel was really f'd up, and left en masse to the Quality Inn, which was *half the cost* per night. This is why I chose it. And despite the Doubletree being the "Official Hotel" of the con, the Quality Inn was actually a good bit closer, and better staffed. I had a good room, and didn't have to pay twice as much just to get a large cookie.
So did I have fun? Yes, personally. But I didn't go there for 100% business reasons. I had a LOT of fun with friends, and made many new ones. As I wrote this, Imaginecon sent me a large apology, and I learned a lot of stuff from their point of view, so a more balanced version of this will also be posted there.
The second major news is... I am going deaf. Literally. Some of you may have noticed in recent years I kept going, "What?" so finally I got my hearing checked. And I mean checked. I had to go through hours of a battery of comprehensive testing. The short version of the diagnosis is that they saw no damage, no evidence of fluid/cillia damage, no wax buildup, no foreign items like tumors or growths. In fact, my ears themselves work just fine. It's the nerves from the choclea to the brain which are dying off. This is common in elderly people, but not for me at 31, which makes them suspect it's a genetic problem. Right now, I have 25% hearing loss and they recommend a set of hearing aids, but they cost $2000-3000 *per ear* and only last a few years before they have to be replaced. So because I am buying a house, I am going to have to rely on asking people to speak up and reading lips for a while (in fact, they proved to me I had already been doing that without my knowledge). They don't know how my hearing will progress. I could go deaf in 5 years, or 10, or maybe never fully deaf at all. But the fact it has been rapidly progressing is troublesome. I have to be tested every year for a few years for them accurately predict what the future holds.
So when you see me, please forgive the "what?" comments, and if you are thinking I am ignoring you, make sure I can see you. I don't plan on making any major life changes because of this. I am not throwing myself to the ground in a major pity-fest going, "Why me, God?" because it won't do any good, and if God answers me, I doubt any answer would be comforting. And I have suffered worse.
And we have gotten the house <http://web.archive.org/web/20001213184000/http://www.punkwalrus.com/house.html>. Finally! It was pulling teeth. They can't pull out now unless they pay a hefty fine. We sign May 22nd to finalize a saga that would be worth of an Icelandic Scroll. The page explains it a little better in all it's gory detail.
I have also been working on the Katsucon web site <http://web.archive.org/web/20001213184000/http://www.katsucon.com/>. After two years of it being virtually abandoned until the very last minute, I want to eliminate that problem this year, since I am head of publicity for Katsucon Entertainment now (yes, no more registration for me!). Boy will I be promoting this con. Back in sales again. :)
The next two weeks will be heavy as well. I am starting my CCNA (Cisco-certified Network Administrator) classes next week, and then the week after that, I will be vacationing in Hatteras!