bunny_hugger gave to me, when we married, a pair of coati ears and a tail to wear. But I hadn't had the chance to wear them for anything. FurFright was our first convention since marrying. This would be my debut in full regalia. (It was also part of why we had a suitcase to check on the plane.) Coatis have long tails, as long as their torsos, and she got a ringed tail that's respectably close to my torso length.
To get from our, overflow, hotel to the main one we'd have to walk across the highway as well as down a path that's partly got sidewalks and parking lots, but also has a lot of just social trails through street-side grass and dirt. I didn't want the tail dirtied, especially before anyone else got to see it. I fiddled first with holding it over my arm, and then realized I could hold it more or less in place by letting my con badge lanyard hold it. And it struck me that real coatis do, typically, keep their tails upright, and that while many furries wear dangling tails for the fun of it, nobody wears one upright.
So I entered the hotel with that curious transition of self-consciousness to self-confidence as I embraced my decision to do something that looked weird to everybody else.
The hotel was different, not just in the literal sense of not being one we'd seen before, but be being some subtly non-Euclidean labyrinth possibly built by the mad. It's got the charming sense of having been built and rebuilt and matched together from different elements, but the practical result is that it's got a lot of weirdly angled hallways, many of them with gradual slopes, so that while it's not quite a maze it gives that impression. On the other hand it has got an indoor swimming pool with a balcony and projector so that the Rocky Horror Picture Show and also an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 could be shown, including to people who were swimming, which would be really sweet.
There would be other differences in this con compared to the ones we'd been to --- mostly Midwest FurFest --- before. There were different crowds, different people --- none of our regular crowd, and chefmongoose, another friend, and lobowolf were nearly the only completely familiar names --- and different fursuiters and a generally different air of things. There were fewer panels of the kinds we typically go to --- just the one puppetting panel, for example, and bunny_hugger's Bunnies SIG was the only species SIG we found on the schedule.
But there were pleasant surprises, too, things we hadn't thought about. chefmongoose teased one but not so as to spoil the surprise: they had pinball. One of the people providing game room entertainments set up the pinball based on the forgotten 1995-Ish I Guess Michael Crighton movie Congo, a machine I'd barely ever seen in actual arcades partly because it was from the era when every pinball had to have dozens of big moving props that were always breaking. There were to be three pinball tournaments, one of them a regular challenge of full games; one of them a single-ball high score contest; and one of them --- Friday night's contest --- a one-handed game.
The pinball machine was on free play much of the day (it was also charging some to raise money for the con's charity), so I got in some time and experimented and determined that I could not just play the game respectably well --- at least as well as the other folks practicing --- but that I could do tolerably well single-handed, using my left hand. I'm right-handed, but most of the high-value shots are left-hand shots, so I figured it would be easiest to play with the left flipper as home base and move to the right as shots needed. This wasn't a bad idea and in practice I even managed to top my two-handed score with one hand. In the actual competition, though, I had a mediocre game, didn't finish in the top three for the playoff round, and went back to watch the people who did better, and try with bunny_hugger to speculate about how the props and game modes had anything to do with the plot of the movie, which we hadn't seen. The contest was won by a person playing one-handed in fursuit.
There were other games in the video game room, certainly, but the only one that really got my attention was the handheld Vectrex system. We never quite played it, but we did look in wonder at people who were playing Asteroids on its disarmingly bright screen. They also had a Neo-Geo; remember Neo-Geo?
We went back to our hotel room, in part to eat, in part to change. We went for sandwiches to a Krauszer's deli on the path between con hotel and our hotel, where the people working were delighted and mildly bewildered by this whole convention and wondered why all the people in animal costumes were here. Fair question. We did our best explaining it, bunny_hugger better than me. We listened to the different kinds of sandwiches they had, and the kinds of bread they had (white, rye, rolls, the usual), and finally bunny_hugger got an egg salad on a roll, while I asked for a cheese sandwich on a roll and was told, apologetically, that they only had the one roll remaining. I'm flexible.
Amongst the candies were a display of Swedish Fish, under which was a sign reading, ``We are Swedish Fish. Please eat us.'' None of the other candies had signs begging people to eat them. I have no explanation for this phenomenon.
bunny_hugger wanted to rest up, a little, as there was karaoke that night, and she also wanted to change into her FurFright Halloween costume, a special one, and not her bunny fursuit. It was a Trevor Horn outfit, of course, assembled over careful weeks of scouring the thrift stores and eBay and finding what she hoped would be the skinniest tie at the convention. (As best I can tell, it was.) She'd be entering the costume contest in an outfit she expected no one to recognize (she was wrong) or understand (can't speak to this one).
For karaoke --- which was rather well-attended, happily, although this meant there was an awful line waiting for our chance to sing --- she found the Buggles tune that I was confident would be there: ``Lenny''. She acquitted herself wonderfully, and the the audience got to jumping quite nicely as she sang about the death of the radio star and squarely laid the blame on V-T-R.
I tried, too, and I will say that I tried sincerely at least. I went for Paul McCartney's ``With a Little Luck'', since it seemed to have the combination of lyrics I was reasonably familiar with (of course the karaoke machine shows them, but it's a lot easier if you aren't trying to read and think and sing and keep time all at once) and not, in principle, requiring the sort of enormous vocal range that I'm just not up to. As best I can tell, my body selects one note for a song and quivers around that without quite reaching any other one. But I kept screwing up the timing, and screwing up where to hold the microphone so I could be heard, and realizing I was maybe doing better when I held the microphone so I couldn't be heard, and then I was hit with the four-minute instrumental stretch.
I realize the karaoke producers want the songs to be, as much as possible, like the real recordings, but long stretches of nothing to sing are just deadly, except that the stretches where I was standing on-stage looking apologetically to bunny_hugger (who had came up, aiding me by turning the song into a duet, with one person who had control over vocal pitch) were probably better for music than the stretches where I'd be singing. I'll try again. I may be no good, but I can keep at it.
Back at the hotel we determined that Wikipedia's plot summary for the movie Congo was 1,017 words long, raising the question of how someone can have that many words to say about the plot of the movie Congo.
Trivia: On its initial rollout, in September 1976, the space shuttle orbiter Enterprise had fuel cells for on-board power, but holding their hydrogen and oxygen as high-pressure gases, rather than the liquids in cryogenic tanks needed for long-lasting operation. Source: Development Of The Space Shuttle 1972 - 1981, T A Heppenheimer.
Currently Reading: The Long Road Home: The Aftermath Of The Second World War, Ben Shephard.