September 07, 2004

Death and Closing Ceremonies



Dateline 2pm, Monday, the 6th of September, 2004

This is the (occassional?) (oxymoron?) trufan clp reporting from the edge of the convention...

One of the best panels of the Con was one of the last... from 2-3pm record crowds pressed into H312 to hear SF luminaries Edelman, Gaiman, River, Pratchett, Willis, and Niven trade an ever-growing set of puns, SF, fantasy, and horror remembrances, quips, counters, anecdotes, observations, and musings on death and the afterlife and its use in fiction. Larry Niven pointed out the virtues of death. (Only Philip K. Dick sells books to movie studios). So later Niven said when asked what ghosts want, they want movie rights! A touching moment was when Uncle River related a recurring dream of his mother being unable to accept her own death, and when she did in a final dream he felt closure and the "reality" of it (more than just a dream). The panel constantly cracked each other up, and a great time was had by all!

Closing Ceremony

The time lapse video of the auditorium setup, Vulcan greeting attempt by a Glasgow tourist rep, and the one-main con "replay" for Deb and staff (who never had time to see the Con, of course) were highlights of the event bittersweet but traditional close of a wonderful Con. (On to teardown for this reporter!)

Posted by Noreascon 4 at 04:08 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday Night

On Monday night, with things winding down, I went out for my first leisurely dinner of the convention, to a nearby steakhouse, with Texas fans Kurt and Michelle Baty, Scott Bobo, and Ed (sorry, I forgot your last name), plus Craig Miller, Jenny Dazzo, Kelly Persons, and Rick Katze. After devouring a number of steaks, lobsters, vegetable platters, and chocolate souffles, and some very congenial conversation, we strolled back and Craig and I headed up to the Past Worldcon Chairs party, up in the suite of our newest and happiest member, Deb Geisler. There SMOFing was committed, including some discussion of the possibility of doimg some sort of First Night-like event at Intersection next year. Cool. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Shortly after 10:00 we took the traditional photo of assembled past con chairs, although unfortunately a few of the eligible attendees didn't make it. Some had left that afternoon, Tony Lewis (Noreascon I chair) was not feeling well, and Peggy Rae Sapienza and newly-selected chair Hiroake Inoue arrived later in the evening.

After the picture, I went down to the Dead Dog party in the con suite, and discovered that the last bit of First Night had finally been completed; Bob Devney had printed and distributed the FIRST Night TIMES one shot that was written during First Night! I got to look at someone else's copy and will hopefully get my very own copy the next time I see Bob. I believe we'll be making these available to anyone who wanted a copy and could not pick it up at the convention; we'll be posting something on our regular news blog in the next few days.

Past Worldcon Chairs Photo from Noreascon 4:


Posted by Leslie Turek at 03:48 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 06, 2004

Closing Thoughts

The Worldcon is now over. Nomi and I are home and will soon collapse into bed for a good night's sleep. I regret that I haven't blogged as much as I could have, but I am delighted that real-time blogging became a part of Worldcon this year. It was because of this that Nomi and I got to meet some wonderful people, our fellow bloggers, and make some new friendships that should last a lifetime.

I suppose I could go into details what I did this Monday, skipping the Sunday stuff. I could tell you about my Kaffeklatsch, in which we reconnected with the very first person who ever came to my very first convention reading, almost ten years ago. I could talk about our one actual hour in the dealer's room browsing (as opposed to the hour on Sunday we worked the NESFA Press table). I could tell you about the fine panels I was on today, Alternate Holocausts and the one on television arcs. And I could tell you how much I enjoyed the Closing Ceremonies.

But you know, I'm very, very tired. I might post about this sort of thing later, but in my own space and in my own time. I hope the con won't mind it if I leave some pointers here. If you liked my posts and want to read more about my life, I keep a LiveJournal under the name mabfan at . And if you want to find out more about me and my work, my webpage is at .

Nomi and I would like to congratulate everyone on committee, staff, and volunteers who helped make this convention such a great success for all of us. We were delighted to have been able to do our little bit on program staff and publications staff, and are sorry that we couldn't contribute more.

Posted by Michael A. Burstein at 08:35 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, and Final Thoughts: Or, What I Learned from Noreascon 4

Monday I head in to the con to visit the dealers for a final time, go to a kaffeeklatsch with Laura Anne Gilman (a fine time, and you should all buy her book, Staying Dead, which I've read and which is excellent). I also go to a couple more panels. My final panel of the con is on SF Chick Flicks, with MaryAnn Johanson, John Pomeranz, and John Scalzi, whose weblog I read. As the panel starts, John Scalzi admits to having a massive secret online crush on MaryAnn Johanson. I'm very amused and wonder if it's going to get mentioned on his weblog. Blogging about a blogger: somehow, I feel almost meta. The panel's good, too.

On to Things I Learned at Noreascon 4. Number two piece of information about being a writer: self-promotion is good. Number one: don't spend the advance. Number zero: don't be a writer. (But if you're going to write anyway, you might as well be good and get people to pay you.)

I discovered that the panels I knew least about were the most interesting. I'm not making any statement about how interesting they were overall, but they were the most interesting to me personally. Two of the programming items I enjoyed the most were things I knew nothing about. This afternoon's panel on costuming disasters was a case in point. I know perhaps too much about writing disasters, but I knew nothing about costuming, and it was great to get a look into what makes other people bang their heads in frustration. Another example: I wandered into something else I knew nothing about on Thursday night, when I showed up for the slash panel at the correct spatial coordinates but with the temporal coordinates off by twenty-four hours-- and wound up at an audience discussion of John Myers Myers' Silverlock, which I'd never read. It was a great time, and I wound up getting the book in the dealer's room. (I also learned that I should keep myself out of the dealer's room, but that's another story.)

One of the things I was looking to find at this con was whether the SF community was one I would feel comfortable as a part of. As someone in my fifth year of working with the IgNobels-- which have a differently focused but not dissimilar community as compared to fandom-- I had a feeling it was, but I hadn't been in the larger world of fandom before. I've been a part of other communities of those interested in writing and the English language, and I found that none of them can top the kind of joy that people at this convention found in the art of writing and in the experience of reading. After this weekend, I can say that if I'm going to be a writer, this is the community I want to be a writer in. Now: off to start submitting!

This has been Gen Jules Reynolds, blogging live and without a net from Noreascon 4. I'm too tired to come up with anything original to tie this together, so I'm stealing from the best: Jerry Springer. Until next time, take care of yourselves-- and each other.

Posted by Gen Jules Reynolds at 07:19 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)


CraigVinceCraig Miller asks Vince Docherty what a well-dressed Scotsman carries in his sporran. Vince reached in and pulled out his cell phone, "set on vibrate"....

P1010002The First Night idea trust. Priscilla Olson, on the right, had the original idea. John Pomeranz was the first area head and led the initial brainstorming. Leslie Turek, on the left, ran the area since March, when John had to resign due to real-world work pressures.

TeardownTypical teardown image.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 05:38 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)

Closing Ceremonies

FifeandDrumThe ceremony began with the Boston signature fife and drum corps.

GuestsWe said a last good-bye to all of our guests, and Deb gave them each a big bag of goodies from the convention.

DebColinVinceChair Deb Geisler passes the gavel(s) on to next year's Co-Chairs, Colin Harris and Vince Docherty. Since Vince is a repeating Worldcon Chair, he got The Big One. Vince told Deb that he understood that one of the big problems when you're running the Worldcon is that you don't get to see it. So the Intersection committee attempted to rectify that by replaying the entire convention for her right there. The One-Man Worldcon, starring Michael 'Sparks' Rennie, started with the belly-dancing and Terry on Trial from First Night, showed Terry begging Peter Weston for a Hugo at the Friday night event, and went on to cover the rest of the convention in brief, ending with the Star Wars One-Man Show ("It's terrible being a Jedi when you're father wants to kill you and you fancy your sister."). Great fun. (Sorry, no pictures, Sparks was moving too fast...)

PipesInteraction closed the ceremonies with a pipe and drum group that led the audience out of the auditorium and in a procession around the Convention Center.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 04:59 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Gripe Session

I'm a bit of a gripe-session junkie. I like to attend Worldcon gripe sessions because it helps me understand what things are important to the attendees, pick up good ideas for future use, and learn what perennial irritants to try to avoid. So I've taken fairly detailed notes on the N4 gripe session.

Chairman Deb Geisler began by noting that Noreascon 4 is a one-time event; when the convention is over we will disperse as a committee. But we will pass your comments on to our successor Worldcons. "On a personal note, it's been an interesting and rewarding experience, one I'll never be able to have again."

Then she invited comments from the audience.

Congratulate the Hynes for keeping water urns filled.

Problems with matching the size of the audience to the size of the room. For example, presentations by the publishers need to be in a bigger room. Every one was full to overflowing.

First Night was really good. (Applause)

Staggered by incompetence of service in the hotel bar. Took an hour to get cold sandwiches to the table. Deb: We will be having an extensive debriefing with the Sheraton tomorrow at 10:00. We particularly want to apologize for the check-in delays. We did our best to do what we could to improve this. Television check-out is broken today.

Area for autographing was not labelled on the map. No one knew where it was, including people in the office. Deb: We got some of the signage a bit late. Info was in Information, rather than Office, probably should have been there also.

Maps should have marked where the bathrooms where. All the locations in the schedule should have been on the maps. Deb: Let me tell you about the maps. We had technical problems in composing the Convention Guide. Restrooms were labelled on a different layer, which blew up Pagemaker every time we tried to include them. Apparently Pagemaker doesn't have any bodily functions of its own.

Why was there no pocket program or daily program grid sheets? Deb: There was supposed to be daily program grid sheets, but we dropped the ball. We couldn't fit those things on grids - there was too much program.

After last year, which only had a grid, the convention guide was nice. Deb: Put together as nice as we possibly could so it could be as accurate as possible. But the problem then became that technical glitches were hard to solve due to little time.

Problem with finding film rooms (not on map). No information about what films would be in Republic A and B. Deb: We had insufficient communication internally once we got on site. I would encourage our successors to have a central location for stuff that has to happen at con. When you're spread out you don't have everbody checking in one place. Some of the 70mm films came in very late; trying to do deals to get films cheaper.

Please put names of people who would be autographing on the web as soon as you know. Deb: We tried to do that as far in advance as we could.

This was my first Worldcon. Sessions on enjoying the Worldcon were all Thursday and Friday - please have one on Saturday. I went on a private village tour with Tom Veal. Trouble finding Art Show once we got up to third floor. Deb: We had all the signs made, but didn't have enough people to run around and put the signs up. We had a sign printer that was working nonstop during the convention. Also not clear where the docent tours would meet or where the filk office was.

Maps weren't all oriented the same way. Deb: We believe in different orientations.:-) It would have been great to have the Sheraton in a different color from the Hynes.

Another first Worldcon (Deb's student). This was extremely organized. I was amazed at the Convention Guide. At 5:30 tomorrow, Deb teaches her first graduate class in Convention Management.

This is my 30th Worldcon and in my opinion one of the best. Minor problems were events didn't start on time. Deb: Opening Ceremonies was late because some equipment was still (literally) in the air. We tried to open the doors earlier for the other events. Last night with the Masquerade, there were several last-minute entrants and they needed time to get their material ready.

SFWA, TAFF/DUFF auctions are a perennial issue. Too small a room and need more time. Should get more priority. Deb: Pete Weston brought an incomplete Hugo which auctioned for $250.

Sound systems. Masquerade: sound for MC was okay, but pre-recorded stuff for entrants was terribly muddy. Film room in Sheraton. Sound almost completely unintelligible (eg, Surge of Power). Deb: They tried to tweak the sound all weekend, there was something strange about the 70mm prints that put a buzz in the sound system. Brought in Boston Light and Sound to try to fix it. Known problem; trying to solve it. Muddy sound in Masquerade due to the quality of the recordings that we get from the entrants.

Loved the wireless access. Deb: I know it went down one day, but otherwise it was cool.

Really like extended Art Show hours. Deb: Was open 36 hours total - longest since LACon II. Opened early to show Retrospective exhibit, and tried to keep it open late at night. Opened AS reception to general public. Some concern about closing at 2 on Sunday, but all previous Art Shows did that, and we turned it around in 2 hours rather than 3.

Hugo Nominees reception is closed because it's designed to get them all to show up.

Thanks for the Mended Drum (applause). Deb: We wanted to do the Mended Drum since the beginning. Kept trying to develop the concept. Up until it all went together, we had no clue what it would look like. We had creative people who painted stuff, found flats, did a great job.

Piped events into there and 210. Couldn't pipe into hotels. Ran in Marriott via tape delay. (Literally ran the tapes over to the Marriott.) We had no way to do it in the Sheraton without spending tons of money.

Thank N4 to arrange for parties to happen in function space, with couches, and free soda. (Applause) Deb: Sleeping rooms have very narrow corridors. We knew that big parties would have serious problems with hall congestion, especially with mobility aids. Thank the bids and other large parties for running them in function space. The soda thing was a great deal. Note that Con Suite staff got Pepsi as well as Coke. Ben Yalow negotiated the contract to get us unlimited soft drinks. (Applause)

At elevators, have signs pointing to stairs. Deb: We put them up, but the hotel moved them.

Had a great time, want to thank everybody. Only gripes: Many panels were standing room only. Some were 1/2 hour, which was too short. No printed film schedule.

I like to go to gaming in between panels. Gaming in two different rooms meant it was hard to get a pickup game. Deb: We originally had everything in the Sheraton and gaming requested additional space, which only fit in the Hynes.

The chairs provided in the Dealers Room are atrocious. Deb: The chairs in the Dealers Room cost us $12 each. In exhibit halls everything must be purchased from a decorating company. When we rent from the Hynes we get a bare box. For better chairs it would cost $19/chair, which would have been considerable. Elaine Brennan: A lot of people don't understand how Worldcon budgeting works. We have to contract with the decorator long before we know how many people are going to show up. So we have to be frugle.

Office and Communications doesn't function well with a noisy photocopier right next to the phones.

Suggestion for future conventions. Have a place on the web site for attendees to indicate what they're interested in, to try to help figure required size of rooms. Deb: It's complicated, because it's not just what the panel is about, but who is on it.

Thanks for the scooter rentals. Hynes did not set up chairs in the program rooms to allow for scooters. Deb: Even when we moved them, the Hynes would put them back. Our community helps support people with limited mobility.

I had anticipated that there would be more computers available to check email. I was surprised there were so few, and there were always long lines. Deb: This is a nice to have if you have the money. We had purchased a number of computers for general convention use. We got donations of 6 Macintoshes for the Internet Lounge at the last minute. We tried to let people know we had wireless access. We had drops for people to plug in laptops, even if not wireless. (People complained that they didn't know they were there.) Deb: We bought 450 pieces of foamcore and still didn't manage to have enough signs out there.

I thought they were a major inconvenience that you had to stand to use the computers. I have arthritis and standing for a long period of time is an inconvenience. Deb: That was on purpose because we only had 6 and we were trying to keep people from using them for a long time. We had one for people with mobility problems.

What is the attendance? Around 5600. We're still working on the numbers.

Lost and found was big box, but needed a place to put delicate stuff into (envelopes, etc.) Sheila Perry: We're also keeping a list in the logbook, so if we find things when we move out, we'll return it.

Commend Con Suite very good variety of food. (Applause for Con Suite.) Also to con publicity for being listed in various places around Boston. Deb: We'll have a dead dog party tonight in the Con Suite.

Your guests of honor have been incredibly available. Deb: We have been so blessed with 4 of the coolest, easy to get along with guys in the history of the world.

Why didn't we use the Marriott? Deb: We had the function space there, but we didn't need to use them, and to do so would have split the convention. We were very lucky to have a site that was this compact. Even though we have lots of space, it's still contiguous and compact. We used it for a Suffolk University class, and some weddings, and the Masquerade rehearsal.

Photo galleries on the 3rd floor. Nice if a gold star marked people actually here. Deb: B&W photos originally shot for N3 in 1989, at Torcon 3 we began shooting pros for additional photos in the gallery. Color are more recent photos.

Fan Gallery, black frames indicate deceased fans. Deb: You can't get more gafiated than that.

Deb: Signage would have cost $30,000 if bought from decorator. Instead we bought a large-format sign printer and shackled one of our people to it.

Deb: Did you like the rugs? Were they neat? They cost $300 each. Where did you get them made? Freeman, our decorator. One is going to the artist, Bill Neville.

What is the total budget? Deb: Still in flux. The average Worldcon costs roughly $850-$900,000. We are slightly over that, around $960,000 expenses; just under $1M income. The surplus will go to the pass-on funds program. We may pass on more than half; the rest will be spent on useful things for fandom (like the exhibit packing crates donated by SFSFC). Budget does not include pass through like Art Show, mobie rentals, etc. That includes budgeting for membership reimbursements. These reimbursements are made only if the Worldcon is financially stable.

Deb: Thank you all very much. It's been an amazing experience.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 04:33 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (10)


Mondays at Worldcons are the saddest but somehow the most pleasant times. Sad because everyone is packing up to go home. The panels are winding down, the art show is gradually disappearing through the sales tables, and everyone is rushing around to pick up that last item in the dealers room or to get in their membership conversion to the newly-selected Worldcon. (Or, in my case, to buy that $300 computer from the convention yard sale. I'm a confirmed Mac addict, but every so often I need to run something that can only run on a PC, and at $300, it's cheaper than buying Virtual PC - and faster.)

Pleasant because the crowds are smaller and people aren't quite so busy, and so you can hang out in the ConCourse and chat with the people who pass by. The Dead Dog party tonight should be a congenial group, and I also need to make an appearance at the ex-Worldcon chairs party. We have an annual get-together and group photograph, which is scheduled for 10:00 tonight. I'm sure Deb Geisler is looking eagerly forward to becoming an EX Worldcon Chair.

After First Night was over, I was pretty exhausted, so didn't get to a lot of program during the convention. But I did get to all of the big evening events, and had time for a pass through the Art Show and Dealers Room. This morning, Alex and I toured the Retrospective Art Exhibit as part of a docent tour given by Bob Wiener, which was very interesting. Later today, I'll report on the Gripe Session and Closing Ceremonies.

Posted by Leslie Turek at 01:00 PM in 7-Monday | Permalink | Comments (0)