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December 29th, 2004 - Walk Softly and Carry a Big Schtick — LiveJournal .

December 29th, 2004

December 29th, 2004
02:55 am

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What would you like for Christmas -- a new polarity? You’re binary, and desperate to deal
The LuggagePictures from Noreascon on Sunday are up. Click on The Luggage to see them.

Sunday. When I got through with my shift at Children's Services, I went back to the Concourse. Charley and Marsy Sumner had hit on a great way to meet people -- they had a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts open to all comers, and were planted on a couch with a couple of other open couch seats nearby. That's how we met them... A word about the couches. Noreascon had decided to rent a zillion sectional couches. They come in 2-piece and 3-piece units -- the 3-piece sofas are the same as the 2-piece loveseats, they just have an extra straight piece in the middle. These sectional units were all over the convention, including both the convention center and the Sheraton.

When inter_action and laconiv were planning the furniture for our Future Worldcon Party room, we asked for about 14 of the 2-piece units. N4 mgmt, specifically Ben Yalow, was shocked and amazed that we'd consider cramming that much furniture into a room, so I drew up a diagram showing that we could use all of them for a big multiple-zone conversation area in the center of the room, and still have plenty of open space for fire-safety aisles. Yeesh. I think it worked out just fine; it seemed that they were envisioning something with a lot more standing-around and a lot less sitting. Cf. their Boston-for-Orlando in 2001 party at Bucconeer in 1998, where they had a bunch of tall cocktail tables because they expected people to eat standing up.

The same sectional sofa units were everywhere throughout the convention, as I mentioned. Gaming (which was conveniently across the hall from the movie program) was the de facto Teen Headquarters for the convention, and I learned from Sydnie Krause that they took all of their pieces and connected them up to make one long, enormous serpentine mega-couch. It's one of the photos I wish I'd caught -- did anyone else get a picture of it?

DiALTA Copiers I mentioned stopping by the Daily Newszine office. They were using three "DiALTA" photocopiers for their repro. (No, I've never heard of DiALTA.) I don't know how they worked out. I will tell you one thing I like about the gongulators (super dupers -- the Gestetner copy printers that use a mimeo process) is that they run cool -- when you're using a photocopier, it uses the same principle as a laser printer, i.e. it heats up and fuses the toner particles to the page. (That's why hot printouts or copies tend to stick to each other a little.) A ream of freshly-printed paper can actually get too hot to comfortably hold. In comparison, the Gestetner machines are actually using ink -- and it dries quickly enough that you can print several reams and then immediately turn them over and print the other side.

LASFS has a Gestetner that was donated by SCIFI for the good of fandom in the wake of L.A.con III. Local fandom has had plenty of good use from it, including the SCIFI-run conventions in 1999 and 2002 (NASFiC and Westercon, respectively); it's starting to reach the end of its useful lifespan, though, and laconiv is going to need to start over when considering the printing needs for the 2006 Worldcon's daily newszine. I'm lobbying for a fleet of Gestetners, possibly three or four. (What I'd really like, I think, is for the newszine to have exclusive use of three of them, with part-time use of a fourth which would be stationed in the con office, assuming the office is near the newsroom.)

Internet Access So anyhow. The newszine copiers were on the Concourse floor, as I mentioned previously. Also Noreascon's answer to the "Internet Lounge" was to make wireless access to the Internet available in the Concourse (and sporadically available elsewhere -- they needed repeaters or something to make it work better, but they didn't do a full field test before the convention), and have about 7 computers set up for public access. Six of them on a high table, to discourage people from exceeding the time limit posted.

I think that was the wrong approach. If they're going to have a time limit rule, they should have someone to encourage compliance; they shouldn't be trying to make people uncomfortable as their sole way of enforcing the rule. I liked the wireless access. We used that with library_lynn's laptop, and Maria's, but the computer (light as it was) was a bit too heavy for us to carry around everyday.

I think that when laconiv considers the fate of the Internet Lounge, that they also consider the advantages of a dedicated room so the noise and hubbub level isn't so large. In 1996, our Internet Lounge was in a big square (almost a cube) ballroom, with lots of air-conditioning, and compared to the size of the room it wasn't even half used. That meant that the a/c never got overloaded -- it was always cool. Sure, you'd be advised to bring a sweater, but it was better than having it be hot and sticky like at Torcon 3...

I also would like to mention, publicly, that if anyone is setting up internet access (wireless or otherwise) at the Anaheim Convention Center for any convention, they should consider talking to Chuck Shimada who's dealt with that place's wiring many many times for trade shows (notably HP's).

John-Henri Holmberg Ran into John-Henri Holmberg, Swedish fan who's on our Fan Gallery short list. We'd like to get more fans from outside North America in the exhibit, and Worldcon's the best chance to take those pictures... If you'd like to take a stab at taking some snapshots for the project, our List #1 of fans wanted for the Fan Gallery is always available.

At the nearby supermarket, I saw Art Henderson and Becky Henderson buying a bottle of Little Penguin Merlot. They say a lot of wine is sold on the strength of the clever bottle labels, and I believe it... if library_lynn drank red wine, I'd have bought her a bottle right then.

library_lynn, Maria and I ate at Dick's Last Resort, where the restrooms are found beyong the big neon sign that says, simply, 2P. Didn't have any seafood.

Sunday is also when I went to see the movie Surge of Power. This is a campy superhero movie, Mike Donahue's directorial debut. Colleen and Shawn Crosby play the token straight couple in the movie -- and the H-Wing makes an appearance, too. I'd been hearing about this movie and finally I got the chance to see it at Noreascon. Vinnie (Vincent Roth), the producer and star of the movie, was pushing the movie when I went to Gaylaxicon, and I hear that the sneak peak they had of some scenes at the Gaylaxicon Saturday night program were well received. How gay is this movie? Well, if you don't know anything about the gay scene, you might notice one or two overt references -- the female cop calling the female newspaper reporter a pet name (sweetie, or something like that) -- but it's not in your face. It was a lot of fun to see the movie in a room full of appreciative people. (It's eligible for a BDP Hugo, of course.)

Newszine kiosk More about the daily newszine. There were wire-grid kiosks for the newsletter at various spots in the convention area. I don't remember seeing a list of all the locations. They were natural magnets for people to post signs; sometimes the side that actually had the newszines became a little obscured, so they needed a bit of policing. They had mailboxes on them (postal-style mailboxes) for newsletter contributions. I'd be interested to know how they worked out. They certainly were more compact, in terms of floor space usage, than the pegboard affairs I'm used to using.

Sunday night was the Masquerade. There's something you should know, if you're running a daily newszine at a convention: the Masquerade Director isn't going to go out of his or her way to get the masquerade results into the morning newszine, but a lot of people will be cranky with you if they don't see the results in that ish. There are two sets of data you need to gather, in my opinion: set #1 is the running order, with D/C/W (designed/constructed/worn by) credits and entry names all correctly spelled; and set #2 of course is the list of winners. (Correctly spelled is an important issue, btw -- a lot of times the person filling out the entry forms doesn't actually know how to spell the names of all their friends, but can write them well enough to be read out loud. That's fine for the show, but isn't good enough for the newsletter.) And, in theory, all of this information is somewhere because they needed it to announce the entries when they went on stage, and they needed it to announce the winners.

Of course, the way most masquerades are run, these data are written down in exactly one place, on the sheet of paper used as the entry form, and they're not going to want to let them go until after the masquerade when it doesn't matter anymore, and you have to be on your toes to catch 'em before they're thrown out. Anyhow, to get all this information in the newsletter, you, as newszine editor, need to take charge of making sure you get it. You can't rely on someone else's assurance that they'll get it to you -- it might happen, but it might not, and then where are you? You've got to hunt it down. (At Noreascon, as near as I can tell, the official masquerade results were dropped off in the office and misplaced and thrown away, and the morning newsletter crew shrugged off the absence of the information and printed their so-called "final" issue without them.) My recommendation for a future newsletter editor would be to try to get the running order as early as possible. If the Masquerade prints up a program with the running order, your work may be done for you; otherwise, see if you can get copies of the entry forms. If there's no easy copying capability, they might allow you to bring your digital camera in and take pictures of each form. Then all you have to do in order to get the winners is to pay careful attention when they announce them and write them down, then double-check your notes against their information if you can catch them quickly enough. Remember, the Masquerade Director may vanish like the mist when the last award has been given out, so you've got to be vigilant!

it's difficult to get right. And people think it's an easy thing that obviously belongs in the morning newsletter after the show. So it's a minefield waiting to be stepped in.

(One of the things that my travels have taught me is that most conventions don't have a daily newsletter. Loscon, Baycon, and Minicon have them, and most Eastercons, Westercons, NASFiC and Worldcons have 'em -- any others? I've reached the conclusion that there aren't that many places for a would-be Worldcon daily newszine editor to practice the craft...)

Cohen the Barbarian By the end of the night on Sunday, The Luggage had received two awards. The Luggage had lots of little legs, and ran around by itself, and had teeth inside, which you could see when it opened its lid at you... but now, when it did that, you could see the giant rosettes. And one of the funnier non-Discworld entries was "Beaker the Vampire Slayer" - a Muppets version of the Buffyverse. I guess that was a natural when they'd done a Muppet episode of Angel... In Discworld entrants, the Death of Rats should be mentioned, as should Marty Gear as "Cohen the Barbarian" (from the cover of The Last Hero).

Sunday night, late, I was in the Fan Lounge in the Concourse, and I saw Bob and Richard Devney. Bob (or was it Richard?) was in charge of a project, the First Times or First Night Times (I'm not sure which). It was a one-shot, of contributions turned in on Thursday ("First Night") all on a theme of "firsts." Richard (or was it Bob?) had an article he wanted me to help him identify, because the person writing the article hadn't signed it and it was obviously a friend of mine. I read it, and realized that it was Christian B. McGuire talking about last Loscon. We put his name on it (I called him on his cell phone to be sure of my result), and threw in a couple of his titles such as Chair of laconiv on the thing. I was surprised that the one-shot hadn't finished shooting, as it were; it was supposed to have been written and pubbed on the first night, and here it was the fourth night and closing fast on the end of the convention! And with the convention center closing at 2:00 am or so, there was some urgency in getting the thing over to the photocopiers.

Would I have done it differently had I been in charge of it? I think so. I'd have had (mentally, if not written-down) a series of fallback positions when the job got bigger and bigger - if it looks like it'll be a 40-page issue, you should spend less time per page getting it ready to print than you would if it was a 4-pager. So that means being ready to jettison certain aspects of the design. The first thing I would have given up would have been trying to jigsaw-puzzle articles to fit on pages. I'd want to have no more than 2 or 3 pages in flux at a time -- when I decide we're done laying out pages 9 through 12, for example, then nothing on those pages will be changing except possibly one last pass at proofreading for glaring typos. But then, get those pages over to the duper and be done with it! Print, say, 250 copies (maybe more -- do we know how many they printed at Noreascon?) and move onto the next page. Pipeline it! Also, see if you can get extra hands to distribute the workload. Assign 4-page units - two double-page spreads - to a couple of different editors, and they can fill them up as best they can, using up the material that's been provided. When the person doing pages 2-3-4-5 is done, pages 3 and 4 can be printed right away; page 5 has to wait on the person working on 6-7-8-9, of course. And one of the things I'd discard is worrying about a consistent look for the whole thing -- give each editor a goodly amount of latitude and we can call it a feature instead of a bug.

So that's what I would have done. The darned thing was written on the first day, after opening ceremonies, but not collated until the dead dog party, after closing ceremonies. Surely this could have been improved? Surely this wasn't the first time fanwriters have come together to do a one-shot -- what was done differently in past times? (Was it the time crunch -- everything contributed all at once this time?)Alice Lawson--Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Other Brits and European fans not mentioned previously: Alice Lawson (pictured at right), Eileen Weston, Pete Weston.

Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: R.E.M. - "Be Mine""

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