Tag Archives: orycon

My OryCon 30 was . . . Weird

We arrived at the hotel about 12:30, got checked in, got our stuff to the room, and then went out again to see what was up. The answer — nothing. We got to hear about difficulties in almost every department, since we hung out where the volunteers do; everyone was having problems. And there never seemed to be the huge influx of people showing up; even at 5-6 PM, it was busy but never overcrowded. Weird.

The biggest thing that happened to us on Friday was getting dissed by a hotel employee. Since MiLady is in a wheelchair for the duration of the Con, and since we’ve waited 20+ minutes in the past for an elevator with space for her, MiLady gets the combination for the service elevators. At one point during the evening, she punched in the combo — only to be told by some black-suited git with a gold name tag that no, we couldn’t use them, not now or at all during the weekend, because of insurance issues. He wouldn’t even let us get in. (MiLady checked later that evening with the Head of Con Security — it’s good to know people — and he said it was complete bishwah.)

On Saturday we wandered about and saw the sights. I noticed that the big deal readings for the weekend were from someplace called “Broad Universe” — which turned out to be a thing for women writers. Oh, for Pete’s Sake! Women Writers . . . like Women in Business or just about any “women’s” group I’ve run into . . . seems only to say, “We want special attention! We don’t want to compete on any non-exclusive playing field — so we’re going to set up our own group, and if you don’t think we’re Special, then it’s all your own prejudices!” Sheesh . . .

We went to the Art Show. Lots of great stuff — that MiLady hardly got to see, because people were always moving in front of her to stand directly between her and the art. One group of Manticoran officers (from the Honor Harrington universe) deliberately moved around her wheelchair to stand two feet from the artwork so she couldn’t see it. I wanted to say, “Great jobs on the uniforms, guys — but could you go back and read the books you’re emulating about graciousness and MANNERS?!?”

On Saturday night, I hung out with MiLady and StepDaughter while they started the Party Rounds. There was only one floor for parties this year (which says a TON about the number of people who aren’t coming to the Con like they used to), and really only two parties there — the Pirates and the Cultists. We spent some time in the 3rd floor smoking area, and heard others talking about what we were wondering — Doesn’t the Con seem teeny this year? The highest number we could find on a badge was 758 or something; everyone there agreed that the membership was incredibly small compared to the 1200 we had last year, or the 1600 we were used to seeing in the old hotel. We found a concomm member, who said that the Registration head was being very tight-lipped about the numbers this year. In the past they’ve been published in the Daily OryConnian. Hmm . . .

And one more elevator incident — we got chased down by a uniformed security officer on Saturday night, who asked if we had permission to use the service elevator, and when she found that we did (she actually looked disappointed), said, “Well, it’s all right for now, but you two (me and the StepDaughter; not just family, but Helpers for the Disabled Person under the ADA) will have to wait with the rest of them.” A couple of people, hearing about it later, actually told us we could sue. It’s not worth the effort, though. We only saw her the once, and she never used the elevator the next day when I was with her. Why? No need. The place was dead.

Yes, Sunday was dead as a doornail. A bunch of people seemingly left the hotel before we even got up; there were no elevator lines, and hardly anyone in the Con level corridors. We went to a couple of panels (and in one of them, the Feedback panel, someone asked about attendee numbers — and was told we were up to 1300. I never saw them). We went out to dinner, watched some TV (we tried to hook our laptop up to the TV to watch our own DVDs; although it worked easily last year, this year it just would not happen). Then we went to the final event of any OryCon, the Dead Duck (or whatever they’re calling it this year) party. This year was wonderful — the Toast Rounds were excellent (and not overbearing or taking over the whole room exclusively like in recent years), the people were wonderful, the pizza overflowing (they’d ordered the same amount as last year, but only half of it got eaten — another clue?), and when I left at 11:30 the place was swinging.

It wasn’t till I got up the next morning that I heard about the final indignity. Apparently the hotel got hold of the con chairman at midnight and shut down the Duck. They told him that there wasn’t supposed to be any alcohol in the suite we used as Hospitality, and that it all had to be removed — NOW. After how many years, they do this to us? We’ve held that party after every con, every year. THIS year, at midnight, it’s suddenly unacceptable? WTF?!?!?

THE PORTLAND DOWNTOWN MARRIOTT IS NOT WELCOMING TO PEOPLE TRYING TO SPEND MONEY THERE. I’m exceedingly glad that OryCon is moving; I plan on never spending another DIME on that hotel chain. They don’t want my business? They don’t want to trust me? FINE — they don’t need my money. (On Monday, when I asked if I could use a bellhop cart to pack out our stuff, I was actually told No. The git insisted on bring the cart up himself, putting our stuff on it himself, and wheeling it down to the car area himself. As if I was going to try and take it home! After over twenty years of weekend conventions, this is the first time I’ve ever had that happen. EVER. Frell you, Marriott!)

I’m waiting anxiously for the Regress report on this con, in part to see what the attendance numbers are (or if they’ll even be published, or if the “pre-reg but didn’t pick up badge” numbers are even reported). The only times this felt like a con to me were in the Party Wing smoking area or at the Dead Duck. I’m looking forward to next year, in a hotel that might treat us like the money-paying customers that we are; but if the next con goes like this one, it might be the flushing of an SF con going down the tubes that will be he loudest sound. I hope not, but it might.

[To those of you who have never been to an SF convention before — this was NOT a typical con. Usually they’re busy, fun, full of interesting people and wonderful events. I wish I could show you how wonderful they are, and how you’d really enjoy going. This one was not such a great example. Sorry. 8-(]

Ten “Weird” Things to Take to OryCon

A week from today, I’ll be checking into a hotel for a weekend of wonderful weirdness known as OryCon. If you’re anything like our household, some time this weekend you’ll be pulling out the suitcases for the process of packing — 75% of the stuff goes in during the first two days, with the rest filtering in as it gets clean or you remember you might need it. Having done this for a little while (this’ll be my 22nd OryCon, and MiLady’s 21st), I thought I’d suggest ten things you might not normally think of as Con gear.

  1. Garbage Bags. We prefer to take at least three, and recommend 2 + 1 per person. Those tiny hotel trash cans never hold enough garbage for us, so one is for trash and (being Oregonians) one is for nickels — I mean empty cans. The bag per person is for dirty laundry. It helps keep the room tidier.
  2. A Power Strip. Our room is probably going to contain 3 laptops, 2 PDAs, and 2 cell phones, not to mention the cameras, light props, and other toys. Rather than having deathmatches over the two or three plugs we can get to in the room, a power strip is so much more civilized . . .
  3. An Air Filter. Not only is this useful if you like incense but don’t want the neighbors complaining, but think of how thankful you’ll feel with a bunch of people in the same room! It also helps after that over-perfumed friend-of-a-friend wanders through. It just helps make life away from home more pleasant.
  4. A T-shirt and Jeans. You may love that costume now, and want to wear it all weekend; but don’t sentence yourself to it by not taking any other clothes! Likewise, you may be sure now that those high-heel platform shoes will be just fine — but pack a pair of flats, just in case. If nothing else, you need an outfit to go home in . . . (OryCon Tip: at this Con, at least, it’s OK to wear your pajamas around the hotel — especially on Sunday morning. It seems to mark the Cereal and Cartoons crowd. So you might want a set of publicly-acceptable jammies.)
  5. A Battery Charger. Remember those cameras, light props, etc. that I mentioned earlier? We’re firm believers in rechargeable batteries, partly because if something dies we can have it again in a matter of hours (not dollars). Few things worse than a prop that won’t work . . .
  6. Con Food. I don’t know about you, but we can’t afford to eat in the hotel all the time, leaving the hotel for food is a pain, and while Hospitality is usually fantastic at OryCon, they may not have stuff out when you need to eat. With my diabetes, I need protein at regular intervals, so I tend to bring a supply of jerky; we also recommend cup o’ noodles, bullion cubes, or packaged soups where you “just add water.” The room’s coffee pot is great for that! If you’re addicted to soda, you might want to bring a supply of that, too.
  7. Duct Tape (or a Sewing Kit). You’d be amazed at the costume problems that can be fixed with duct tape. Sagging hems, splitting seams, rips and tears . . . all can be fixed with a careful application. (Blame it on my years in the SCA.) If you’re horrified at the mere thought, just take this as a suggestion to remember a sewing/mending kit. Though you might reconsider the duct tape if you need to get pet hair off cloth . . .
  8. Painters’ Masking Tape. This is for those of you in a group or trying to advertise anything: If you want to attach things to posts or walls, painters’ masking tape is guaranteed not to mess up whatever’s already on the wall. Other masking tapes . . . not so much. The office may or may not have a supply of it — don’t count on it! You would not believe how quickly that stuff disappears! Bring your own; it’s better for everybody.
  9. A Bag. If you’re planning on making a run on the Freebies Table, or a serious siege on the Dealers’ Room, then having a bag to cart stuff around in is a good idea. It also helps when you don’t want to be running to your room all the time.
  10. A Substitute Pet. OK, I’m silly. You can say it. But I really miss my cats when I’m away from home. So I take Chet to the Con. Chet is a stuffed Cheshire Cat, and is the perfect companion: he stays down when I put him down, doesn’t complain when I pick him up, and is very pettable (even if his fur does go the wrong way). It’s part of ‘taking my home with me.’

Well, that’s our list, as of right now — it’ll probably change 4 times over the next week as we remember things. (Toiletries! I was going to throw in not trusting those teeny hotel bottles to be enough — grr . . . ) Do you have anything “weird” when you pack? Got any tips for living in a hotel room for a weekend? Please share in the comments section — I need all the help I can get! 8-)

Next Up — OryCon!!

Hotay. So it’s now November; Halloween is over, the election is tomorrow and I’ve gotten my vote in (gods, I love Oregon!), the sky is a beautiful grey and it’s raining regularly. Now it’s time to concentrate on . . . ORYCON!!!

What is OryCon, you ask? It’s the Portland, OR annual fan-run science fiction convention. On the weekend of November 21-23, somewhere around a thousand of us weirdos are going to show up at the Portland Marriott Waterfront hotel in downtown Portland and hang out. There will be panels discussing SF, fantasy, horror, anime, costuming, writing, and even weirder stuff; there will be book signings, readings, a dealers’ room and art show, dances, singing circles, and the occasional pagan ritual, Christan prayer meeting, or Tai Chi class. There’s child care available, a Hospitality Suite, a masquerade so people can show off their costumes, and workshops for writers. It’s a lot of fun!

This year’s theme is “Days of Futures Past.” This should really appeal to the SteamPunk (Victorian era SF) and classic SF people; I’m just looking forward to an excuse to wear my new frock coat, and actually fitting in. Sure, I bought it from a Dr. Who costume site — but the nice thing about frock coats is that it fits into many different eras, spanning about 200 years, so I can get mistaken for whatever the viewer wants to believe. Perfect! Silly me, I’m also looking forward to loading down the pockets: pulling out a Star Trek communicator, then shoving it back with a “not that one — wrong dimension.” “Which wand is it that works over here?” The alethiometer should get a good workout too. (I love props! They’re so much fun!)

But the time to start planning is now. There’s nothing like the disastrous feeling that you left what you wanted at home. (Last year, I was working; I asked that things get packed, but MiLady was as frazzled as I was, and as a result I had no costume for Saturday night. Not this year, by golly!) I”m going to start now, putting aside clothing and props and making stuff is clean and that the batteries work and that I can pull off a great character this year — myself! I can’t dress up as someone else — I’d never pull it off. Now if I can just find a sprig of fake parsley . . . 8-)