Friday started with phoenixalpha and I sleeping in, farting around packing stuff, and finally getting to the hotel around 1 PM. We checked in, lugged stuff to the room, and then split up. I headed down to the Green Room to find out what help (if any) michaellee and thaadd might need, and as it turned out they needed someone to hold the fort in the Green Room while they were running around taking care of stuff. This I did; missed a couple of panels, but that was okay. Got a well-timed sandwich thanks to the Mobile Consuite, which surprised Mike and I by coming by about 1500 to take orders for sandwiches and returning maybe forty minutes later with the sandwiches we ordered and a couple small clamshells with snackage. Good show! I wandered out at 1830 for my panel with thaadd, Games To Kill A Day. About a dozen people showed up for that, and we talked about the various Catan games, Twilight Imperium, Crayons Across America/The Moon/Hell, Diplomacy, and similar tabletop games. We did digress into computer games a little bit but didn't talk too much about wargames, since that's really a niche fandom these days now that most of the monstergame publishers have gone out of business. However, a lot of references were made to dirt and chrome, bad rules, and stuff that inevitably brought the discussion briefly to wargames.
After the panel I met up with the stuckintraffiks and we headed over to the Friday's. I ate lightly - burger, salad and a half order of potato skins - partially because I was trying to spend as little as possible and partially because I was trying to watch what I ate. Friday's made it easy on me - like most chain casual joints, they have an awful lot of awful-sounding collision cuisine items on the menu. They then headed off to the Alien Invader Smackdown and I decided to make the rounds of the parties. The party selection was okay this year - there were some good new ones, some blah old ones, and some regular parties that continue to amaze with new stuff every year, such as the Rakehell. This year they were promoting themselves as "The Black Fleet Travel Agency". I had been advised to ask for Vega out of all the available destinations, since "What happens on Vega stays on Vega!". :) Once inside, the usual Targ Whiz and Hot Sex were available, as well as a nice selection of snackage. I passed on the Targ Whiz as the last thing I needed was some bizarre Klingon variant on Kool-Aid, looked on with amusement at the Klingon bartenders, and headed on out after a few minutes. The only other parties I spent much time in were the Alien Sex Shoppe, which was tastefully decorated with movie posters and magazine covers from the pulp era, and the Tardis Tea Society, which had an excellent variety of teas and English snackage in several varieties. I then caught qob's second costuming panel, "Getting A Head In The Klingon Empire", which I was very interested in since I am leaning hard toward getting involved in Klingon fandom. (Just what I need, another fandom to eat my life.) It was unfortunately not well attended, having been scheduled two hours after his first panel, but we all paid very close attention as he proceeded to turn a gorgeous young Feddie lieutenant into an excellent Klingon warrior. It's a lot of work, and (as I said to the Rakehell folks on Monday morning) has a lot closer relationship to cosplay in anime fandom than it does to conventional SF/fantasy costuming, which is mostly about putting something together for a stage presentation. Not that there's anything wrong with that; I have a lot of respect for willow_one and all the other folks who damn near kill themselves to create awesome costumes and present them on stage at the Masquerade. Yeah...so after that panel I hung out and waited for the stuckintraffiks to get out of Soylent Blue so I could finally inflict Zar on them. Killed time talking to nickiq and some other folks who were likewise waiting...and eventually they came out and we headed over to COF2E2. We got through at least one game, which was enough to fully infect all players with the Zar Fever. ^^ But it was late, and those not sleeping at the hotel needed to go home. I thought I might stay up a little later and hung out with chebutykin for a while, but it was no use. I toddled off to bed about 0300, thinking to myself that I was a true fool for having stayed up this late because...
...I was meeting jariten for breakfast at the Restaurant Formerly Known as the Kaffee Stuga. I rose from the dead at 0700 (thank you o thank you wake up call peoples), discovered to my disgust that I'd forgotten both my razor and my shampoo, and staggered downstairs to plant myself in the lobby and wait for him to appear. Which he did, more or less promptly, and we went in to pillage the buffet.
This was without question the most expensive ($16) and crappy buffet I have ever eaten at a Sheraton, going all the way back to Discon II in 1974 at the now-demolished Sheraton Park in DC. The eggs were lukewarm and lacking in cheese, onion, peppers or salsa, the bacon looked half-done, the potatoes were those miserable O'Brien baked excrescences, and the assortment of pastry was about the only area in which more than one choice was available. (The doughnuts looked like they'd sent someone out to Cub for a dozen of the most ordinary types.) Jesus X Christ on a rubber crutch, Mystic Lake Casino doesn't charge this much for their Father's Day Buffet, and that has both omelets and waffles to order! This was a mediocre steam table buffet, and I took great pleasure in warning everyone who asked (and quite a few people who didn't ask) away from the place. Yes, I know the Sheraton is primarily catering to the businessman on an expense account, but is it too much to ask for them to temper their pricing for the fans? It's not like the damn eggs and sausage are kosher or something.
Well, if the food was overpriced and sucky, at least the company was good. We were seated next to sqotty, so there was a little inter-table conversation before J and I got stuck into talking about local anime fandom, the early days of AI, and suchlike things. He eventually had to split and get ready for his 0930 panel, which I reluctantly skipped in favor of going home and collecting all the things I'd forgotten.
Made it back to the hotel in time for my 1100 panel, "Is The Network Dead?" I don't think the panelists came to a definitive conclusion, but it was a lively panel with plenty of audience participation (Romeo, what were you doing out there and not on the panel with us?) and I think it went pretty well. Following that, I wandered back towards my room and noted that the Klingon GoHs (Robert O'Reilly and J.G. Hertzler) were doing signings, but didn't think much of it since I was pretty much broke and couldn't afford whatever they were selling. As it happened, I ran into qob back in the room, and in lieu of lunch he offered me $20. So now I have an excellent photo of General Martok, signed by J.G Hertzler. Oh, wait - did I say General Martok? I meant Martok, Klingonische Oberkommandant und Kanzler des Hohen Rats! It was apparently done for a Berlin Trek convention, and I thought it kind of appropriate. I need to find a suitable frame for it. Have to say, I thought I was done being impressed by guests, but I was wrong - I barely managed to say how I wanted it signed. (I did a little better with O'Reilly in the hallway on Sunday - I mentioned that the only TNG eps I could stand to watch were the Klingon eps, and that Gowron had really caught my attention for being so Machiavellian, so manipulative, such a great character! I could see the smile slowly spreading across his face as I said these thngs, and it was clear he appreciated the compliment. (It probably does bother him a little that the average Klingon fan likes Martok better. ^^)
So anyway, apparently revolutionaryjo was too far gone to remember what happened at the Manga Influence on America Culture panel. Relax! It was a good panel - we packed the room with a lot of folks who wanted to hear about manga as opposed to comics (or as they've been influencing comics) and we did talk about that. I wanted to talk some about the larger cultural impact of anime and manga on American society at large, but I don't recall that we actually did all that much of that. Anyway, it went well, and I left in a very positive mood for the "Acting in Star Trek" panel with Hertzler and O'Reilly, who started by performing a Klingon rap (in English) and then talking about their experiences with TNG and DS9 for an hour and then some. Those guys are funnier than hell together, and had a bunch of yarns about their experiences. Great stuff. Unfortunately I had to leave before it was over because I'd been drinking water like a fish and it wanted OUT. "Cartoons: Not Just For Kids" followed, and Greg Weisman pretty much dominated the panel. Lots of inside baseball talk about how shows get greenlighted for production, comparisons of the vertically integrated pipelines that are American animation studios/networks and the more pyrmidal structure of the Japanese manga/anime system and why the latter structure won't take hold here. Best line of the panel was by Luke Ski, who otherwise didn't get a word in edgewise (like the other two folks on the panel) : "Ren and Stimpy died for your sins."
Then I went to hang out in Programming, since I'd signed up to be on duty until 10 PM or so, but that was kind of pointless since there wasn't really any programming going on except for the Masquerade. Still, I did serve the useful function of giving thaadd an hour off the radio to change and get a little rest, and wound up working until 9, at which point I hung out in the Baen's Universe party, signed the memorial book, and then went upstairs to the Consuite. There I discovered the Vault Pyramid, which had already been partially torn down to reveal the scrawled message: "The princess is in the other castle." Also posted in the Vault space was a pair of small notebook pages with the rules for Vault Club. "Rule #1: You don't talk about Vault Club. #2: You DO NOT talk about Vault Club....#4: If it's your first night - you have to drink." There were a couple pallets worth of Vault and Vault Zero, apparently the product of an accidental meeting between somebody in Ops and somebody in Coke marketing. It was okay stuff - reminded me of Jolt Plus only without the guarana, or Seven-Up spiked with caffeine. I probably drank half a case at the convention and brought a couple cans home. *shrug* It's all right, I guess. Went to bed about 2330 when the Vault stopped working, and that seems a reasonable place to stop this for now.
And of course, once again, I missed the bat'leth competition and the wedding. Feh.