Since we’re going to have a Longest Night masked ball at Norwescon this year, I picked up a basic mask this past Halloween season. However, it was all black plastic, so I knew I’d want to decorate it somehow so it didn’t look like wearing blackface. I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

This Saturday, the Mercury is doing a masked ball, so this gave me the impetus I needed to find an idea. What eventually came to mind as inspiration was Vinnie, Pizza the Hut’s henchman in Spaceballs. He’s a robot, but it was all done with makeup, no prosthetics.

My painting skills aren’t great—I have no idea how to do actual shading, it’s all solid colors and lines—so I doubt people would really connect the final result with the inspiration. Even so, I’m pretty happy with the end result.

Day zero: The base mask.

The base mask.

Day one: Sketching the design in pencil, and the first coat of white.

Sketching the design in pencilFirst coat of white

Day two: Second coat of white, and adding the metallic silver.

Second coat of white, and adding the metallic silver

Day three: Detailing in black, and the finished product. Likely won’t be easily identified as the inspiration, but I think it still comes across as decently robotic. I’m happy with it, at least.

Detailing in blackThe finished mask

A Brief History of Convention Ribbons: “If you’ve gone to conventions like CONvergence, you may have seen the ribbons imprinted with catchphrases and clip art people stick to the bottom of the their badges—in some cases, collecting large trails of them. CONvergence does a great job of explaining how you can get your own ribbons on its site, including a variety of different vendors that print them. But what is the real purpose of badge ribbons, and how did the tradition get started?” (There’s a fair amount of ribbon collection/trading at Norwescon as well.)

Since we’re now in 2020, I figured it might be worth noting that Norwescon 43 is just about three and a half months away!

Norwescon is a non-profit, all-volunteer, fan-run, literary/generalist SF/F convention held at the DoubleTree Seattle Airport hotel in SeaTac every Easter weekend; this year’s dates are April 9–12, 2020 (yes, the same weekend as SakuraCon, but while the two target groups absolutely have overlap, there are definite differences as well). Rooms at the hotel are still available, and attendance for the full weekend (Thurs-Sun) is just $75 until Jan. 15, when it goes up a little bit (single-day passes are only sold at the convention).

As a literary/generalist con, Norwescon has a focus on SF/F books (reading, writing, and publishing), but also has lots of panels and events around all aspects of SF/F fandom, including film, television, fanfic, geek music, costuming, games (computer, card, tabletop, rpg, etc.), and more.

The Guests of Honor this year are:

The panel/event schedule for this year is still being assembled (it usually gets published within the month prior to the con), but you can count on four days of panels on all of the above topics, hands-on workshops, interviews with the Guests of Honor, autograph sessions (with no autograph fees), gaming sessions, special events in the evenings, and a hotel full of people getting their geek on.

Evening events include a costume Masquerade, dances, and concerts, with more being planned. There is a full dealers’ room with vendors selling all sorts of geeky merchandise, and a large art show with lots of SF/F artwork to admire and purchase.

Norwescon is also the host of the annual Philip K. Dick Awards, recognizing the best SF/F paperback-first publications of the past year, and there are usually a few of the nominated authors attending to read from their nominated works.

For those who might be interested in getting more directly involved, Norwescon is always looking for more volunteers to help with the convention, too! Volunteers are always accepted for everything from a few hours helping out at the convention itself to joining the planning committee beforehand and being a part of the group that makes things go.

More information is available on the convention’s website; I’ve been volunteering with Norwescon for around a decade now, and am happy to answer questions however I can, if there are any.

Home from Norwescon!

This was my first year as a member of the Exec team, and I hope it won’t be my last. As I’m in a position whose duties are heavily weighted pre-convention, I was much more able to simply enjoy the con than I have been in the past few years, when I was coordinating the photo department, taking photos, and monitoring social media. This year, I got to spend much more time wandering around, finding friends and acquaintances old and new, and just enjoying the convention without being constantly on the run from one duty to another. It was nice!

Amusingly, this didn’t translate into much panel attending — one of the major aspects of the con that I’ve personally had little time to explore — though I did make sure to attend Saturday’s Star Trek: Discovery panel, which I very much enjoyed. Should I hold the Secretary position again next year, I’ll try to get a few more panels onto my schedule.

I got to sit at a dinner table with our Special Guest of Honor Nancy Pearl at the GOH Banquet, and she was an absolutely wonderful person. We and the rest of the table chatted favorite books old and new, and after hearing some about my interests, she recommended Peter Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star to me, so I’ll definitely have to pick that up. One doesn’t simply shrug off a personal recommendation from the model for the Librarian action figure, after all!

The P. K. Dick Awards were a highlight as always. Though I continue my streak of failing to predict the winner, the final choice was a worthwhile selection, and I was lucky enough to be seated next to the winner, so I got to hear her excited gasp of surprise as her name was called out.

I talked to many people, made and laughed at lots of jokes (bad and good), talked books, TV, and film, had a few drinks, danced to the wee hours on Saturday night, ran around dressed up as the Unstoppable T-Rex, handed out many “ALL THE RIBBONS!” ribbons, and once again, had a grand old time over the weekend.

Thanks to all of you who helped to make this a good weekend, whether through personally interacting with me or through being part of the con community (staff and members alike) who make this such a good experience every year. I’m glad I got to see those of you I did, and look forward to seeing you all again in the future.

On to Norwescon 43!