May 7th, 2016

krazy koati

When Liberty Valance rode to town the womenfolk would hide; they'd hide

I've mentioned how we really didn't have winter this winter. So why is it that at this convention, in early April, after the mildest winter anyone can think of, Sunday opened with an inch of snow? It was beautiful, mind you, and it would pretty much burn off during the day so it didn't need so much plowing or anything, but, still. The heck?

So we packed and fretted about losing stuff and were certain after all the sweeps that we hadn't, and we left behind the charger for bunny_hugger's Nintendo 3DS. Easily replaceable but still the kind of thing that makes you feel dumb. Given the weather we weren't comfortable stowing our coats in the car so we checked them with the hotel desk again. This made every venture outside a test of courage: dare we bother the desk clerk to get our coats out, and then check them again later? Yes, we would, but we'd feel the worse every time we did it. Bad enough we pondered whether it would make sense to stay an extra night, which would allow us to go to the whole Dead Dog Dance and to have some crash space when tired, too. It makes sense for Morphicon/AnthroOhio, four hours away. But it's hard to make that make sense for a convention barely an hour from home.

We stayed asleep as long as we could, trusting that we could join the Sunday-morning panel we were interested in midway through. This was the live-action Interactive Fiction panel. We'd loved the ones we were at last year. In this, the attendees take turns giving commands for your classic Zork-style interactive adventure game to a dungeon master who's got a flowchart for all this. We joined something like a half hour after the nominal starting hour and it's a good thing we did since all the group had managed before we got in was to get the protagonist killed over and over again and restarting from scratch.

It was a Western-themed game, you waking up as an amnesiac with an unsteady hand and a sheriff's badge and, as ever, no clear idea what you're supposed to do except for picking up any nouns that appear in the room description. I'd like to say our experience with mucks and other online text-based roleplaying games saw bunny_hugger and I the masters of the field. But it wasn't. I was beyond awful at these sorts of games when I was a kid. What saved us is that we tried the innovative approach of talking to the non-player characters instead of incompetently trying to shoot them all the time. You want to postpone your characters' murder spree as long as you can in this sort of thing. Once we got out of the rut of the second room of the game we got going pretty well and won with pretty near the maximum attainable score. Fun stuff. I'm a bit sorry to have missed the start of the panel, but then, getting to step in after everybody's been frustrated and make progress lurch forward is pretty grand too.

We went after this to the Kerby's coney island across the road. We eat there traditionally each year at the con and none too soon since we needed some kind of breakfast. (I remember at least one day we went to con suite for something, anything. bunny_hugger got a single Pop Tart. I got a bagel but since they were out of cream cheese and butter I went with peanut butter. This ... is all right, although bunny_hugger would have none of it.) We ate while looking at threatening skies and threatening them right back if they were going to snow for crying out loud. Seriously, April after the gentlest winter ever.

Trivia: The earliest plans for the Jay Ward character Tom Slick seem to have named him ``Stretch Marks'', first used in a Fractured Flicker auto-racing skit written by Lloyd Turner. ``Tom Swift'' was an intermediate stage. Source: The Moose That Roared: The Story Of Jay Ward, Bill Scott, a Flying Squirrel, and a Talking Moose, Keith Scott.

Currently Reading: Tiger Balm Gardens: A Chinese Billionaire's Fantasy Environments, Judith Brandel, Tina Turbeville.

PS: What I Learned Doing The Leap Day 2016 Mathematics A To Z, some reflections.