I hadn't wanted to mention before bunny_hugger joined the Anthrohio Live show, but the cake-decorating contest was scheduled for the Saturday of the con at 7:00. The show was scheduled to end at 7:30 and it actually wrapped up about 7:20. But this was all right. Someone, I suppose, noticed the problem of big-draw events happening simultaneously and moved the cake-decorating contest to 8:00. Or something got delayed (cake preparation, maybe?) and the cakes got moved back. Either way, we had enough time to run off to Taco Bell for some food and get back to con suite before the contest started.
Well, almost. We were still eating when the contest started. But we had made clear to the guy running it we wanted to participate, we were just over here a whole table over to the side finishing burritos. There were a lot of people who wanted to cake-decorate. Something like twenty people, which made a bit of trouble as there were ten cakes available. bunny_hugger and I made a natural pair. Other folks were there with friends so the cakes basically covered things. Another unexpected shortfall: the guy who bought cake-decorating stuff figured he could buy icing from one store and the tips that fit onto the tubes from another place. This was because icing was too expensive from the second spot, while the tips too expensive at the first. And of course the tips he got didn't fit the tubes of icing. So it would be possible to squeeze icing out of the tubes. But there'd be no fine control over the amount or shape of icing put onto the cakes.
This would frustrate us. bunny_hugger and I converged quickly on an idea. Draw an Age-of-Exploration-style map of the coast and the seas, with a sea serpent, and ``Here Be Dragons''. It would fit the con theme, and certainly within our abilities and the hourlong time limit, and while no actual Age-of-Exploration maps ever warned ``here be dragons'' nobody in the world cares. The frustrating part is that without tips there's really no graceful way to write out anything as fine as a letter `H', much less an 'e'. The other letters would be similarly challenging.
bunny_hugger despaired that we could write out the letters. I insisted that it would be harder than it should be but we could still do it. My first attempt made this horrible blobby mess we had to lift off the cake, supporting bunny_hugger's thesis. I stood by my claim that while it would not be the ideal we had in mind, we would be able to do well enough, with practice. And while I would get better at smooshing a too-fat ribbon of black icing into something that kind of resembled cursive writing, it wasn't easy to tell just what I had written. Some people got it, but most people needed help. Next year we bring our own icing tips.
Ah, but the judging? How would that go? And we did well. First place would go to someone who'd crafted a three-dimensional topping, because that always wins. They had put together an honestly impressive knight-fighting-dragon scene, using plastic spoons to give the needed structural integrity to a dragon and a mounds of dungeon or whatnot. But we would be in the running for second place. We were able to overhear the judges debating closely between ours, which had fair skill and resolutely on-theme point, and a cake that was simply a painting of a sunset. That was done with outstanding skill: the decorators there had blended the handful of colors available (red, purple, blue, green, black) into many shades. It looked like a watercolor of the sun setting on the sea. Fantastically done, certainly. Nothing to do with the con's ``Renaissance'' theme though.
The judges finally gave second place to the sunset, and third place to us, and admitted that it was a toss-up. I forget what first place won. Second place got a coffee-table book of Renaissance art. We got a CD of Renaissance music. We keep forgetting to listen to it.
There was a dance Saturday night. It would be in the new space, that little ballroom used for Opening (and Closing) Ceremonies and Anthrohio Live. It's bigger than the old room used for the dance; that one was being used for con registration and the silent auction and such. And it's farther from the main flow of hotel stuff. It's way off on the far end of the restaurant. Yet it was well-attended, certainly compared to the paltry crowds we'd seen the previous year. One hates to lose dance hours, but the experience of this and Motor City Fur[ry] Con suggests that maybe losing one night of the dance does produce a better remaining event. Anyway it was a relief us not being the stalwart pair trying to have a good enough time that people walking past don't just look in and then back nervously away.
And karaoke was running, too! We stopped in just to check if it had any luck getting organized and there, in the room that had hosted the failed Mystery Science Theater 3000 event on Friday, were people gathered around the screen doing their best to sing along. bunny_hugger put in her turn with Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street. I signed up for Sam the Sham's Little Red Riding Hood and I think did better than last year. And the karaoke was still going strong by midnight.
We weren't quite, by then. Well, we probably could've gone on further but we did need to get up early Sunday, for the other panels we were running. Better to get some rest sooner than later.
Trivia: The International Potato Center in Peru has sampled and preserved more than 4,900 varieties of Andean potatoes. Source: 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Charles C Mann.
Currently Reading: Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America, John M Barry.