We try to get to three furry conventions a year, which if the New Year's Furry Ball counts we managed for 2013. One of the mainstays, Further Connection North, closed up last year. Its social place has been taken by two cons, the first of which, Great Lakes Furry Con, we went to last weekend. We weren't sure about going, particularly as the programming schedule came out late and didn't have much on it, but I figured we'd be glad to go once we did go, and besides, it was in Grand Rapids, barely an hour away. It's almost more work not to attend a con that nearby.
That's not to say there wasn't work, because opening ceremonies were at 11 am and we had to get up early so as to finish packing, drive up, and wait around until we could check in. But this would be my first chance to attend a brand-new con since Albany Anthrocon, and I couldn't remember going to opening ceremonies for a first-year con before and I thought it was a good idea to go. The opening ceremonies started pretty close to on time, pretty warmly and pleasantly, with greetings for everyone and a quick introduction to the guests of honor (including the fursuiter Step, who's made green coatis kind of famous-ish as coatis go), and a moment of sadness for the one of the con committee who died unexpectedly just a couple weeks before.
After that there was this awkward long blank in the schedule until, really, anything might be happening. We ended up going to lunch with a friend bunny_hugger knew from previous gatherings, and a friend of his, although we weren't very hungry and we might've been better off going on our own separately. We walked to a Red Robin which was just across the hotel's parking lot area, but, it was horribly cold and horribly windy and it was bitterly cold and the wind just kept getting stronger and more bitter. At the restaurant the friend explained to us many of the details of some novel he's been working on, and whose general wave I just couldn't get, because there's a lot of backstory he's worked up and I didn't get it, perhaps. He also explained to the Red Robin waitress what was with the costume tails and ears and all that, starting from a point of ``what anthropomorphism means'', which seems like it's going too far back. The friend's friend barely said anything, but he did seem to like us enough, I think.
The con was desperately under-scheduled; if we had any idea how huge the blocks of unoccupied time were we'd have volunteered to run things. bunny_hugger and I could without trying work out four or five hours of programming, and I thought some about just seizing an empty room and holding events, guerrilla-art style. It did have a modest-sized artists alley, where bunny_hugger found a suitable artist for the sketchbook of pictures of us cuddling, and a vendor's room which had some paw-gloves that might have gone well with my ears and tail, but were a little too tight for my oversized fingers, which is a pity.
The big thing we wanted to do that evening was see the Masquerade, the con's variety show. This turned out to not be the day that the con's mini-booklet schedule said it was; it was Saturday instead. Happening at that same time Friday was a panel on bringing life out of your fursuit character, which, well, bunny_hugger already had been to at other cons, and which I don't need. Con mini-booklet scheduling errors would plague us this entire trip; I don't think there's anything we wanted to go to which was scheduled at the time the mini-booklet said it was.
We hung out in the game room a while; it was sparsely stocked, with mostly Call of Duty-type games on the video game machines and no Rock Band or Dance Dance Revolution that we'd just assumed naturally appeared at these things. bunny_hugger taught me enough of this card game based on finding pairs or making pairs by stacking cards together (for example, if you had an 8 in your hand and there was an 8 on the table, you could pair them and claim points; or if there were an 8 in your hand, a 5 on the table, and a 3 in your hand, you could stack the 3 on the 5, to make 8, and pair that with your 8), which I eventually got the hang of enough that we ended up tying.
Finally we were hungry enough to go out to eat, rather than wait for the sketch bunny_hugger commissioned to be finished, and which might have been a mistake because it was bitterly cold out and the car barely had the chance to warm up before we got to the Subway. Also we had barely got our food from Subway before the artist phoned to say she'd finished, and could we pick up, and she had to leave for the night … we decided to stay and eat, and trust we could find the artist and her sketchbook sometime during the rest of the con. Another mistake about leaving: we lost our original parking spot, a prime one maybe thirty feet from the door. There wasn't much parking to start with, and the heavy snow had left much of what was left blocked under mounds. We had to park on pretty near the opposite side of the hotel complex and duck through the Old Chicago restaurant to get in before frostbite might set in.
Still, the con had a dance, and I had brought shoes other than my heavy rubber boots, so we enjoyed an hour or so of that before going in for the night.
Trivia: In June 1914 the International Olympic Committee added ice hockey, skating, and skiing to the list of optional sports for the 1916 Berlin Games and future Olympics. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.
Currently Reading: Year Zero, Rob Reid. It's quite a funny book, built from the premise that humans have an exceptional talent for music none of the other species in the universe have, and, building loopily from there. One species is put in charge of maintaining the Townshend Line, keeping the universe's many, many Who fans from crowding Earth, because they're such a phenomenally dull people that it's trusted nobody could get past their thick defensive screens of talking to intruders until they pass out. The galaxy's style guides warn the species and its members' names can't be capitalized and that it's a grammatical error to have a sentence mentioning them end with an exclamation point.