We went to Balticon 50 for Memorial Day weekend. I was actually pretty lukewarm on this convention at first, but as my friends tagged along to (Re)Generation Who because I was so enthused about it, I figured the least I could do would be to repay them that courtesy. I wound up having a really good time, so it all worked out in the end anyway.
Me: Josh, the hero of this blog.
Jen: The long-suffering Mrs. Josh.
Lily: Our precocious daughter.
Nicole: Our next door neighbor, the George R.R. Martin superfan. She planned to disguise herself as his porkpie hat and elope with him.
Jeremiah: Mr. Nicole, third corner of the George-Jer-Nicole love triangle, video-game podcaster extraordinaire!
Young Master J: Their son, Linus to Lily’s Lucy.
Long Day's Journey into Maryland
We drove down on Friday in Jen’s vehicle. Even with the convention discount, rates were pretty high, so we stayed at a different hotel than the one where the con was being held. It was just a couple blocks away, so it worked out pretty well. We arrived shortly after registration opened, and it all went smoothly. Jen was dressed as a Weeping Angel and the kids went as Black Widow and Falcon. I was supposed to do a father-daughter costume of Deathstroke and Rose Wilson with Lily, but she changed her mind at the last minute, so I went as a fat dude in a comic-book t-shirt instead. (It was very convincing) If anyone asked, I told them I was dressed as Kevin Smith.
Part of the reason for my initial ambivalence about the con is that when I think of geeks, I do have a negative initial impression, even though I identify as one. Without any other context, when I hear the word, I think of misogynistic basement dwellers engaged in games of petty one-upmanship. Yeah, #notallgeeks, but I take a rather dim view of our subculture, as we’re a subset of humanity, another group of which I have pessimistic expectations.
However, my expectations were subverted in the best way possible, because the people that we came to see (George Martin, Peter Beagle and the staff from March's Dr. Who con) were all really cool. People were friendly and courteous towards Jen and the kids with their costumes, and it was all pretty wonderful. There were tons of workshops and people sharing their passions and that kind of thing. It was a pretty great crowd.
The I saw someone in a ROADMARKS t-shirt. I only saw it out of the corner of my eye and he was gone before I processed it. It had writing on the top of the image, and my best guess is that the image from the book was used for another convention or appropriated by a fan group. I really wish I’d been able to catch the guy to ask him. Zelazny had been the guest of honor for Balticon 21 in 1987, and I thought the shirt might have been from that, but the program book featured a different image. (Also, the t-shirt would have been thirty years old and they seldom last that long.)
The First Night
My status update on Facebook for that night: I'm at Balticon, and I'm the only person in the restroom. Another attendee enters, loudly proclaims "Excellent!" and heads into a stall. Meanwhile, my daughter and her friend have co-opted the abandoned table full of pamphlets for a Furry convention, and are enthusiastically welcoming all passers-by.
Going to be a memorable weekend.
I'm not sure quite what was going on for the first part. It happened pretty much as I described it there.
The kids were really cute at the table.
Continue on to part two, Saturday!