We drove first to our hotel. We were staying again in the Holiday Inn Express that's across a dangerously busy street from the Motor City Furry Con hotel. It's enough cheaper that the hassle of driving back and forth across the road is worth it. But we were late enough in the day it made sense to check in and stow our things. The hotel was being renovated, with about half the rooms inaccessible, which is probably why the bookings seemed weird. We got a room that was a good bit bigger than we're used to, too, possibly a result of the hotel making do with fewer rooms. There were some hallways partitioned off with some generic but not precisely sensible motto about the renovations, and I don't remember what it was now. I'm sorry. It was one of those corporate things that teases you with the promise of content. They did have cookies to give away, though.
We were ready for a terrible wait for our badges at con pre-registration. We had to wait all of however long it took the person at the desk to look up. They had separated the giving of badges from the giving of the con booklet and souvenir mug and the T-shirt that sponsors collected, which probably moved things along well enough. We did get to the upstairs room for the mug and T-shirt just ahead of a mob of somewhere between six and 850,700 people came in, so, our timing was great.
In another sense our timing was terrible. We had both failed to submit any panel proposals to the programming committee. So there would be no Raccoons/Procyonids SIG, no Bunnies SIG --- for the first time in ages --- and nothing else that we might have done, like pinball or letterboxing or puppeteering. I felt like I'd failed to do my small part in improving the convention. We didn't make that mistake for AnthrOhio, at least.
But it did mean we could just go to the convention without responsibility. I didn't run the poll I would do about Raccoons (Trash Pandas: Yes or No, a question people want to spend a surprising amount of time parsing). But I did bring my guinea pig puppet. And bunny_hugger brought her newest puppet, a marionette she had got after Christmas. It's a fuzzy dragon. It's very simple, just one stick, and a head that she's learned how to make look at stuff on purpose. And how to make walk in a big, expressive, silly manner.
And this marionette was as big a hit as she had hoped. Everybody looked at it. Everybody wanted to stop and interact with it. Especially fursuiters. I would still attract a little attention for my guinea pig, since it's cute and the right size to fool people momentarily into thinking it's an actual animal. But this dragon was a star. The chicken purse of puppets, I would call it.
With our failure to submit SIGs the species-SIG track of the convention almsot completely collapsed. The only one that we could find was the Insects SIG, hosted by that ant fursuiter, Upstar. bunny_hugger's never had an insect character, and it's a bit awkward to mention the relationship between actual coatis and actual bugs in a situation like this, but we didn't want to miss the only species SIG of the panel. So that's one of the two programmed events that we attended on Friday, listening to people most of whom were not insects of any kind but listening to the people who were talk about what's so fun about the creatures. During the hourlong hangout an anteater, in suit, came in with a lunchbox full of candies with insects inside that this coati didn't join in on. Everybody made the expected jokes and hugged a good bit, as you might hope.
We poked into the video game room where they had some sweet-looking vintage consoles, including an Atari 7800 and some ancient games, going back to 2600 days. While talking with the people running the room bunny_hugger noticed a little plastic Easter egg. They assured her that it was hers to take: someone or other had been going around the con and hiding eggs around. Inside was a little pipe-cleaner-type creature, with a slip of paper describing what sort of critter it was. This added a nice bit of fun to the weekend: we'd spend some of the time looking for eggs. There must have been regular resupplies of eggs. Some of the ones we'd found were too obviously placed to have gone unnoticed long. Some, apparently, contained stuff tied to the convention's theme --- the Quest for the Holy Growler, and a reason for even more Monty Python jokes than normal for a gathering of furries --- although we'd never find one. We did spot an Easter egg on one of the game tables, in front of some people playing a Saturn(?) game. We couldn't tell whether any of them had claimed it, or whether they had just failed to notice it among convention table debris. And they were playing something longer than we were interested in waiting to see if they'd abandon it, so we left the egg to them. Next day I saw the same(?) egg, or its replacement, there and grabbed it for bunny_hugger.
We ducked out to Taco Bell to get a quick dinner that ended up slower than that as there was a huge line at the drive-through and it turned out the dining room was closed already. But this let us change and get ready for the dance, which we spent less time at than we figured. We sort of floated into con suite and spent time talking there, partly with a series of friends we mostly see at Motor City Furry Con. So we got in late. And we'd have to leave early, as the fursuit parade was at 11 rather than noon and we'd need an extra hour of sleep. Given the shaky status of dances at our furry cons lately we were hesitant to give up on this one before it was done. But it was probably the wiser course. And in any case it was what we did.
Trivia: One of the first medals struck by British coinmaker Matthew Boulton was in 1789, commemorating the recovery of King George III from his yearlong bout of madness. Source: The Lunar Men: The Friends who Made the Future, Jenny Uglow.
Currently Reading: Exploring Mercury: The Iron Planet, Robert G Strom, Ann L Sprague. Not surprised there's a quick slagging on the Faster-Better-Cheaper era of NASA probes. You know, roughly one out of every three Faster-Better-Cheaper planetary probes failed, whereas previously planetary probes succeeded roughly two times out of three. (The book is from 2003, from before Messenger was launched and we got pictures of the missing 5/8ths of the surface and all that, but I figured this would still inform me of things I didn't already know about Mercury and Springer-Praxis books on space are nice easy comfort reads.)
PS: Last hours at Bowcraft.
Ride operator for Bowcraft Amusement Park's Crossbow climbing up the lift station rather than going the long way around to get to the stairs. He recognized our Cedar Point shirt and hoped to get to that park sometime; we talked a bit during quiet stretches and it's always fun to chat with a roller coaster enthusiast.
Looking down from the edge of the Crossbow launch station so you see how far up the guy climbed. The bar on the left is maybe six feet off the ground and he just climbed up to that to swing his way up to the station, something like twelve feet above ground level.
Crossbow train full of kids returning to the station. You can see the mixture of faces, some kids having just had the best moment of their summer and some just horrified that life has come to this.