Prologue - Thursday
One of my key learnings from the weekend is that I really must not go fencing the Thursday before a con. Senior Partners was the third con this month. Each time I fenced the night before, each time I was totally Donald Duck'ed on the Friday night.
It also didn't help that I decided to fence foil and sabre again for the first time in ages that night. Foil involves an awful lot more running back and forth than epee and I kept forgetting to turn the guard at sabre and hence ended up parrying with my knuckles and fingers rather than the guard so my right hand got severely battered. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
A combination of waking up exhausted and a panicky search for a key missing costume component meant I was rather late picking up Taz (cynicalcylon) and Nic (kittynic) from Willesden. Just as I got there I also got an SMS from Selena (kitsune76) who'd got to the hotel unexpectedly early and was wondering about our ETA! On the way, we made a quick pitstop at Tesco in Feltham to get munchies. At least, that was the plan but Taz and Nic headed straight for the music and video section and I ended up picking up a copy of The Ultimate Cheese Party 3-CD set whose track list appears to be a significant subset of Marwan's con disco playlists (ie YMCA, The Fast Food Sing, Saturday Night etc). Hell, I was also tempted to pick up a copy of the Return of the King game for the PC as I had my laptop with me and I was kind of curious to know who'd be desperate enough to get an early viewing of film footage by playing the game!
Once we got there, registration was painless, other than getting told the person on duty that she expected someone with enough taste to be wearing an X-Men 2 t-shirt should know better than to forget my reg ticket! Things got off to a slow start with not many people about but I suspect that was at least partly due to Wolf Events scheduling an Amber Benson event that evening at the Radisson a short distance down the road. Suspicious much?
Anyway, arranged to have dinner with Selena at the hotel restaurant but ordering was interrupted by an extended phone call from Heather (burntcopper) who was en route on a bus. Lost count of the number of times the waitress came to check on us only to find one or the other of us speaking to Heather...
Next, we got changed and headed off to the meet-and-greet party - we were all fortunate enough to have low enough reg numbers (mine was 67!). My first (but not last) Looi Low Effort (tm) of the weekend - a bright dayglo orange LA County Prison jumpsuit from Camden Market. Comment from Stephanie Romanov: "I take it you must be a resident..."!
Steve Carlson (Christian Kane's collaborator in the band Kane) was most impressed by the sexy nature of Heather's and Sonia's (odangochan) costumes. Once again, Heather chose to demonstrate just how far costumes could go by getting me to use the PocketPC and mobile to display costumes from previous cons, including a few of Sonia's own... It was at this point we discovered Steve was a bit of a techie enthusiast too and ended up having a brief discussion of Bluetooth and GPRS availability and uptake in Europe and the US! Nice one, Heather.
Only other things that readily spring to mind about Friday night were Heather and I commencing our now time-honoured booze and munchie pooling arrangements and at Nic's room party afterwards discussing Angel season 5 with someone I'd not met before when she then said "Are you mingmerciless on Livejournal?". Well, FMR! It turned out to be briargate - I'd posted a random list of things to bring to cons in reply to a post of hers in fandom_uk...
Anyway, being serious knacked by the previous night's fencing, I sloped off to bed for a grand total of 2.5 hours sleep before meeting Heather for breakfast. Perhaps at some point I shall recall just why I thought this was a good idea.
After breakfast, I quickly decided I needed a bit more sleep far more than I needed to see Angel 5x01-03 again. God only knows how I'd have coped if there'd been more guest talks. Actually, I could have coped by not going fencing on Thursday...
The highlight of the guest talks was without doubt Neil Roberts. I'd seen him at Bad Girls and Wild Boys, thoroughly enjoyed his talks and raved about them to all who'd listen. I was a bit worried though - would he have enough new material? Needn't have worried - there was some repetition as part of his intro to explain who he was, given he had no connection to Buffy and Angel besides having once kissed SMG in a screen test for Simply Irresistable! Once again he was amazingly funny, smutty and with no sense of discretion or restraint, both about others and himself - can't think of anyone else who'd be prepared to tell stories about getting crabs or a body cavity search from the police... Someone asked if he'd been asked to do any interviews or commentaries for the Charmed DVDs. "No. Given what I've been talking about, are you surprised?" :-) Also a big surprise to discover he'd been in Nick Fury with David Hasslehof!
Another highlight of the guest talks was Christian Kane citing Garth Brooks as a major influence on Kane's music. At bloody last, I could openly proclaim my liking for Brooks too without catching all the usual flak from all and sundry. Ain't all just songs about your combine havester leaving you, you know...
Given the small numbers and hence short queues, I decided to get autographs this time. I was initially disappointed to learn they'd sold out of the cased Kane CDs and only had caseless promos left. However, I've since learned from Taz that there's a few additional tracks on it.
For the Country & Western party, my costume was possibly even lower effort than the prison jumpsuit: check shirt of my fathers, pair of boots I'd picked up one winter in Stockholm, a leather neckclasp tie from Helsinki (OK, so it's Lappish rather than American but no one noticed...) and the sole purchased item, a cowboyhat from a Camden market costume shop... While I wasn't yet overly familiar with Kane's music, I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. I was especially impressed by America High, a song about September 11 which manages to avoid the usual excesses of sentimentality or jingoism.
At one point Yvonne (venerable)said she'd heard I'd come to the con with no guns and expressed shock at the concept. Once again, I took lots of photos of costumes at the party, including group shots of the saloon girls, who Heather labelled the Whores of the Apocalypse. She also labelled Nic as the Madam. "So, does that make her the Whores' Foreman of the Apocalypse then?" I asked, and got whacked for it. Probably deservedly...
Another highlight of the evening - I popped out to the bar and saw a crowd in the courtyard and</b> an ambulance. Deeply concerned, I walked out, only to find Christian Kane and Stephanie Romanov engaging in a lightsabre duel organised by the Jedi Chefs! I managed to catch the last 20s or so of this, courtesy of my beloved Ixus 300. I was from that point harangued by Neil, Master Jedi Chef, to email him a copy of the clip, likewise by more people than I can recall (surely I can't be the only person who makes use of their digital camera's video clip function?). I've emailed various people but had at least one failure already due to mail servers rejecting the size of the file. So, for anyone I've forgotten or who might want a copy anyway, I've stuck it on a web site for download. The URL is http://www.looi.com/lightsabres.avi.
Did a little better at the room party this time, not falling asleep-wise. Taz and I were seriously thinking we were going to have to carry Heather out at one point but fortunately she revived enough to slope back to her room unassisted!
Managed to avoid having to return to my room after breakfast to get more sleep this time so I guess that's an improvement. Neil Roberts was again the highlight of the day. It occurs to me that I've been going to cons once 1992 and never seen an episode of Charmed but to my mind he is without doubt the single most entertaining guest I've ever seen at a con. Even if he did call me a sad bastard - he'd mentioned doing an audition for Mamma Mia, I asked if he could sing us some Abba songs but he said he couldn't even remember the names of the songs he'd seen. One of them mentioned the Seine and the Eiffel Tower though. "Our Last Summer?" I offered. Yep, that'd be the one... He also tried to make *me* sing it for putting him on the spot but I had to point out I couldn't carry a tune in a galvanised bucket! The other one he said had an "Ahaaaa" in it. I correctly guessed Knowing Me, Knowing You but fortunately he didn't hear me but did catch Heather repeating it so I avoided a second labelling!
Got a series of calls during the day from a friend who'd been in contact with this American guy who was looking to take some photos of us in our CADPAT gear to illustrate some script he was working on. Only he wanted to do this Monday. I pointed out this simply wasn't feasible due to having no idea what time I'd get out of the hotel and that we hadn't yet arranged a site. In a series of further calls and SMSs between talks and other events, this was eventually sorted out for Tuesday at Firefight's Reading site.
For dinner we went back to the same pub as the previous night. This broke yet another con tradition for me - going to a con normally involves at least one trip to McDonalds. Not this time... I did get a tad PO'ed though when everyone upped and left me to go back and change, especially as one of the reasons my food had arrived last was that I'd let everyone else order first, despite having been first into the pub. Well, guess I shan't be making that mistake again in a hurry.
And I suppose it'll come as no surprise that my outfit for the Beach Party was yet another near-zero effort costume. Hell, it's pretty much what I'd have worn while I was in Malaysia recently - loud shirt, baggy shorts, flip flops... Yvonne commented in her usual inimitable style a while back about the themes for Senior Partners, "You must be wetting yourself - talk about 50p costumes for you!". Slightly more than 50p but yeah, the general thrust is right!
Speaking of Yvonne, she and DM got me to do possibly the weirdest thing I've ever done at a con - she rang me to get me to use my PDA and mobile to connect to Dominos so they could order pizza online! There was a slight hiccup due to my PDA battery being low so off I trudged back to my room to collect my laptop! That would have been weird enough but I wasn't also expecting a small audience. Cor, you'd think they'd never seen a Centrino laptop and a GPRS phone using Bluetooth before... Oh, and another classic comment from Yvonne: "Ming, I think your laptop's giving Fil a woodie"!
As the party got going, Time Warp started playing. I found myself at the extreme left-hand side of the dance floor when a bunch of people took up position to my left. I was about to point out to them there wasn't an awful lot of room here then noticed it was Steve Carlson to my left and Stephanie Romanov directly opposite. OK, maybe I won't make any comment after all...
Monday/Tuesday - epilogue
Just for a change, no breakfast with Heather. We'd agreed breakfast at 9am but I guess she slept through the alarm and mobile phone was going to voice mail. No matter, caught up with Debs, Taz and Selena before we all gather back down in the lobby for the usual post-con vegetative staring and slow departure.
Dropped Taz and Nic off then got home, vegetated a bit more then headed into fencing. Given my total hours of sleep over the con weekend probably didn't make double figures, this wasn't such a smart idea from the performance point of view - certainly struggled a bit - but it is good post-con detox!
And the following day, we even got the photos done. We got a set each of genuine issue USMC MARPAT digital cammies. Not bad for a couple of hours driving and an hour or two of traipsing round a forest in CADPAT.
Just as a reminder, photos at http://photos.yahoo.com/kmlphotos01
And now time to get some food and get going on the CV...