I’m home! Home, and recovering from another fun Norwescon. In something of a break from previous Norwescon wrapup posts, this one is going to be picture free. However, this is by no means due to a shortage of photos…in fact, just the opposite! As this was my first year volunteering as official staff photographer, I have, if anything, an overabundance of photos to process (the final count: 4,474). I will be working my way through them over the next few weeks, but as I’m also a student in my last few quarters before graduation, photo processing will have to take a back seat to homework. Still, I’ll be posting them to the official Norwescon Flickr account as I can. In the meantime, other congoers are already adding photos to the Norwescon 33 group.

Overall, the con was, as always, a lot of fun. In addition to this being my first year volunteering, this was also my first year getting a hotel room and staying on-site for the entire weekend. As Prairie isn’t into this kind of über-geeking, she went down to visit with her family for Easter, and I shared the room (and split the costs) with Laurie (Rowan Silverwing) and Brad.

Thursday

Thursday morning, Prairie went off to work, and I finalized all my prepping and packing for the weekend. Said prepping and packing consisted of two bags and one box: one backpack of clothing, toiletries, and general hotel room stuff; one backpack of photo gear, which had my small day-use camera bag attached to it; and my iMac, nice and snug in its original packaging from Apple. I’d debated that last item, but given the number of photos I was expecting to shoot, and that I was planning on at least a minimum amount of posting from the con, it seemed the best approach.

Round about 11 AM, Tim showed up to pick up my old G5, load me and my gear into his car, and drive me up to the hotel. I got there a little after noon, checked in, and headed up to find my room, conveniently running into Laurie and Brad on the way (who were kind enough to help me schlep my gear through the halls).

The room ended up being the one downside to the con. Not that there was anything wrong with the room itself — it was simply that as I wasn’t sure I’d be staying at the hotel until fairly late in the year, and ended up reserving my room not long before the con’s reserved block entirely sold out, I ended up with a room in the party wing. Five doors down from Dethcon, and across the hall from Shockwave. While the hotel rooms are soundproofed enough that only a bare minimum of sound from the parties themselves carried through the walls, the people carrying on in the halls were plenty loud enough to make sleeping difficult. Still, now I know, and next year, our room will definitely be in some other wing of the hotel!

Anyway, with everything dropped off, I went down to registration just in time for their servers to crap out. Thankfully, from what I understand, this was the only time they had a major glitch at registration during the weekend. An hour or so later, I had my registration, and about half an hour after that (after a minor amount of confusion) I had my “official photographer all-access” badge, and was ready to go!

My t-shirt of the day — Princess Leia as the iconic Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It!” image, with “Join the Rebel Alliance Today!” text at the bottom — got a lot of grins, compliments, and “where did you get that” questions (to which there was often disappointment when I had to tell them that it was a one-day sale only item).

The rest of the day — much like the rest of the weekend — was divided between wandering around the halls, getting shots of congoers and volunteers alike, and attending the various panels and events that I’d worked out ahead of time as being the most necessary to photograph. I began with the Thrill the World dance class, with zombies-to-be learning the steps of the “Thriller” dance; moved on to the Guest of Honor banquet, where I got my first shots of most of the Guests of Honor (Cory Doctorow, at this point, was still held up at customs); the Opening Ceremonies were next, by which point Cory had arrived; a quick stop by the Zombie 101 room for zombie training, makeup, and planning their attack on the con; finally, the Zombie Walk and the Thursday night dance.

Eventually, I made it back to my room, dumped my photos, and crashed.

Friday

Friday morning I established my morning routine: up between 8 and 8:30 AM, shower, breakfast in the Hospitality suite at 9 AM, then back up to the room to make a quick scan of the prior day’s photos to choose five “highlights” to post (straight out of the camera, as-is and uncorrected) to Norwescon’s Facebook page. Once all that was done, off I went!

Friday’s run covered the premiere of “Courage,” a Firefly fan series; an interview with Science Guest of Honor Dr. Kramer; the Gothic Tea Party, hosted by Jillian Venters, the Lady of the Manners; the first autograph session; the Single Pattern Contest, for which I took “beauty shots” of the entries, ran back up to the room to process them, then provided .jpg files on a thumb drive so the contest head could put them in a PowerPoint slideshow for presentation the next day; the Philip K. Dick Awards, which four of the seven nominated authors were able to attend; the Fannish Fetish Fashion Show, where I met a couple other local photographers (one of whom has been kind enough to show me some of his shots from the FFFS, and he did a wonderful job); upstairs to Maxi’s for their evening party sponsored by Weird Tales; and finally, the Friday night Stardance. Somewhere in the middle of all that I found some downtime for an hour’s nap.

Friday’s shirt was my “I’m Just Here to Get Laid” t-shirt, which got the usual number of laughs, grins, thumbs-ups, and inquiries as to how successful I’d been. No offers, though, so at least I didn’t have to turn anyone down (as much as Prairie is amused by the shirt, she’d probably frown at it being anything more than a fun joke).

Saturday

Saturday morning was essentially a repeat of Friday, aside from heading over to Denny’s for a more substantial breakfast.

Saturday’s events covered the Star Trek: Phoenix fan film premiere, which packed one of the largest rooms in the con; both autograph sessions; an interview with Vernor Vinge conducted by another notable science fiction author, Greg Bear; the Masquerade costume photo area, which accounted for the majority of my shots on Saturday, racking up 1,625 at this event alone; upstairs to Maxi’s, sponsored this night by Star Trek: Phoenix; and again, finally, the Saturday night dance. One again, somewhere in the middle I managed to squeeze in time for an hour’s nap.

Saturday’s shirt was one I just had made a couple months ago, and which had its major public debut this weekend: “This man isn’t wearing any pants!” This comes from something shouted at me a few years ago while I was wandering around the Fremont Solstice Parade wearing my kilt (when it was “That man…” rather than “This man….”), and has been making me laugh ever since. It’s a fun bit of silliness to wear when I’m wearing my kilt (It might even more fun to wear at some point when I am wearing pants). Many laughs on this one as I wandered around.

Sunday

Sunday morning, again, was a repeat of Friday’s, complete with breakfast at Hospitality. Added to the routine, however, was packing everything up and schlepping it down to the cloak room so that we could be all checked out of our room by noon.

My shirt for the day was my Cylon toaster shirt. Again, it got some grins, but it’s been around longer (and is a little more obscure), so not as much of a reaction. That was what I’d expected, though.

Sunday’s mad dash for photos covered the Easter Egg Hunt for the youngest set (four and younger); the Fannish Flea Market, a new event for Norwescon and one that appeared to be going over incredibly well; the Art and Charity Auction; getting shots of congoers leaving the movie preview session wearing t-shirts supplied by the movie studios; the filk music jam; a few shots at the Fandance Film Festival, which included the hilarious final results of the “Let’s Make A Movie!” event that had been going on throughout the con; the Onions and Roses panel, where I was pleased to hear the Twitter and Facebook updates that I assist with get a few nice comments; and finally, the Closing Ceremonies bringing the con to a happy and successful end.

I wandered over to the cloak room, picked up my stuff, had the hotel staff call a cab for me, and made it home by 7pm that night, happy and absolutely exhausted.

Other Thoughts

I’m thrilled that we were able to successfully expand our social media presence this year. Last year I’d created a Norwescon Twitter account just for fun, as a bit of unrecognized fan-run promotion. It picked up a few followers and seemed to go well, and so over the course of planning for Norwescon 33, the con’s Publications department had asked (and I’d happily agreed) to take over the administration of the account.

Once I was on-board as photographer, though — also a part of the Publications department — as we got closer to the con, and we started discussing ways to use the Twitter account during the con, I volunteered to once again take the reins for the account (in part because our webmaster, normally in charge of the Twitter account, was unable to attend the con due to scheduling conflicts with his day job). We got it tied together with the Facebook page, pre-wrote and -scheduled a number of updates to go out over the course of the con, covering event announcements, program changes, and other miscellanea, and did our best to check it in person every so often to answer any requests that had come our way. This ended up working really well, and I heard a number of appreciative comments over the course of the con. I’m quite proud of that.

As far as my first year as con photographer went, overall, I’m quite happy with how it all worked out. The big thing I’m going to be considering over the next year as we wind down from Norwescon 33 and prepare for Norwescon 34 is just how exhausting it was for me to try to cover the entire con on my own. I think I did a pretty decent job, but there were a few things I wanted to hit that I wasn’t able to get to (the Match Game, for instance, along with many of the more popular panels). I’m going to be putting some serious thought (and discussion with the Publications head, once my ideas are a little more solidified than they are at the moment) into seeing if I can take on one, perhaps two “assistant” photographers to assist with getting full coverage of the con next year.

I also heard from a few of the other photographers that the Saturday night Masquerade photo area continues to be a source of frustration for many, something that I’ve thought myself in past years, and that was only partially mitigated by my status as “official” photographer this year. This is an area that I’m going to be brainstorming on over the next few months to see if I can come up with any workable ideas and suggestions for alleviating the issues that seem to be occurring each year.

My single biggest regret, though, is one that in many ways has nothing to do with the con itself. It’s simply that, as I’m a student (and, by the time Norwescon 34 rolls around, will be graduated and (knock on wood) gainfully employed), now that I’m back in the “mundane” world, I’ve got to concentrate on silly little things like homework, and I can’t devote the next week to getting all these thousands of photographs sorted, processed, edited, and uploaded! I’m thrilled to see the man photographs already appearing in the Norwescon 33 Flickr group, as well as the catch-all Norwescon Flickr group, so those people who are looking for photos will be able to find them…I just wish I had the time to get the “official” shots up on the Norwescon account sooner! Still, real life has its responsibilities, and I’m pretty sure that everyone knows that I’ll get them up as soon as I can, and there’s certainly nobody (other than myself) rushing me.

And…I think that’s it! Another fun year, and my first year volunteering, and I had a lot of fun doing it. Here’s to Norwescon 34!

As part of yesterday’s Norwescon planning meeting, I sketched out a basic idea of the events that I’m going to concentrate on being around to photograph for at least some portion of the event — which also necessarily ends up as a rough map of where I’ll be at any particular time during the con. With everything that’s going on, I can’t guarantee I’ll be at each of these events for the entire scheduled time. Still, I’ll be doing my best to catch as much as I can. It’s shaping up to be a busy weekend, but one that should be a lot of fun.

Thursday

  • 1pm-3pm and 4pm-6pm: Thrill the World Dance Class, Maxi’s Ballroom: On October 26, 2009, 22,596 people worldwide participated in the 4th annual Thrill the World event dancing to Michael Jackson’s entire Thriller song; yes, the entire 5 minutes, 58 seconds. Anyone in reasonable shape can learn this dance! If you’re a little awkward – hey, you’re a zombie! Dress comfortably and wear shoes you can dance in. We will teach the entire dance in each session. Thursday night at the end of the zombie walk, you are encouraged to join in as we perform this for the crowd at the dance! (I may stop into one or both of these at some point during the class.)

  • 5pm-7pm: Guest of Honor Banquet, Grand Ballroom 2: Dr. John G. Cramer, Corey Doctorw, Caren Gustoff, David Hartwell, Lelsie How, John Jude Palencar, Vernor Vinge

  • 7pm-8pm: Opening Ceremonies, Evergreen 1 and 2: William Sadorus(M), Dr. John G. Cramer, Cory Doctorow, David Hartwell, John Jude Palencar, Vernor Vinge

  • 8pm-9pm: Zombie 101, or Walk, Zombies, Walk, Grand 2: Shamble yourselves down to Grand 2 to learn what it takes to be a zombie. Our zombie pros will teach you how to move, think, and act like a zombie. There will also be people available to apply basic zombie makeup to help you achieve that zombie feel. Wear old clothes and get in the spirit, because this is the start of the 1st Norwescon Zombie Walk. Feel free to come already zombified.

  • 9pm-11pm: 1st Norwescon Zombie Walk, Grand 2: Join us here to be a part of the 1st Norwescon Zombie Walk; take over the halls of the Doubletree. Zombies will shamble around the con, ending up in the dance where they can take part in the Thrill the World zombie dance to Michael Jackson’s entire “Thriller.” Please see the earlier panels today that will teach the Thrill the World dance if you wish to learn it in advance.

  • 9pm-2am: Thursday Night Dance, Grand 3: Join us for a Tour of a House of Horrors as DJ Irah hosts a night of frights and delights. Watch out for zombies on the dance floor as they “thrill” us with their moves, dancing to music from back in the day up to today’s hottest hits.

Friday

  • 12pm-2pm: Courage: The Series – A Firefly fan series panel and episode premier, Grand 3: A two hour panel with the entire cast of the new fan series, Courage, based on Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe. Ask the cast questions and get to see special footage followed by an episode premier! Attending cast include: David Townsend (Director), Chris Kimball (Director/Producer), Justin Rister (Creator/Actor), Phil Delorenzo (Actor), Daniel Wolf (Actor), Aimee Binford (Actress), John Branch (Actor), and Alyssa Roerenbeck (Actress).

  • 1pm-2pm: Interview with John Cramer, Evergreen 3 and 4

  • 1pm-3pm: Gothic Tea Party, Presidential Suite: What is a Gothic Tea Party? Don’t be left in the dark, stop by and find out.

  • 4pm-5pm: Autograph Session #1, Evergreen 3 and 4: Alexander James Adams, Alma Alexander, Bethalynne Bajema, Richard Baker, Steven Barnes, Arthur Bozlee, Andy R. Bunch, Alan M. Clark, Greg Cox, Dr. John G. Cramer, Cory Doctorow, Elton Elliott, James C. Glass, Todd Lockwood, Lisa Mantchev, John Jude Palencar, John A. Pitts, Mark Rahner, Leo Roberts, Merrillee Schedin, Jeanne C. Stein, Eric James Stone, Jeff Sturgeon, Vernor Vinge, Jaye Wells, Saje Williams

  • 4pm-7pm: Single Pattern Contest Judging, Olympic 1: Closed Judging session for the Single Pattern Contest entries. Judges and pre-registered participants only.

  • 7pm-8:30pm: Philip K. Dick Award Ceremony and Reception, Grand 2: William Sadorus(M), Carlos Cortes, Dr. John G. Cramer, Cory Doctorow, Daryl Gregory, David Hartwell, Ian McDonald, John Jude Palencar, Vernor Vinge

  • 9pm-11pm: Fannish Fetish Fashion Show, Evergreen 1 and 2: We want…Flesh! Flesh for fantasy. Surrender your flesh to your fantasies of delicious latex and lustful corsets. The Fannish Fetish Fashion Show is at it again! This year there is magic in the air, mystery around the corner, Tempting Tarts Burlesque and a few surprises hidden up our sleeves (or is that tucked away snug under that bustier?). You know you want to take a peek… (18+ with ID)

  • 9pm-1am: Match Game, Cascade 9 and 10: Get ready to match the stars! In this SF/F- themed version of the classic Match Game game show, contestants will be randomly selected from the audience to compete in guessing how our panel will complete fill-in-the-blank questions such as ‘Captain Kirk has the biggest [BLANK] in Starfleet!’ Prizes include book packages worth more than $100, gift certificates to selected Norwescon dealers, and a membership to next year’s Norwescon. All contestants will also receive “Lovely Parting Gifts.”

  • 9pm-2am: Stardance, Grand 2 and 3: Come on down to Bartertown, that outpost of civilization on the edge of the apocalypse. Leave your weapons behind and be careful not to pick a fight or you might find yourself facing death in the Thunderdome! DJ’s Girly Girl and Black Maru play music to accompany the end of the world as we know it.

  • 10pm-2am: Weird Tales Night, Maxi’s Lounge: Ready for an exciting night of music, drinking, dancing and literature? Yes, literature. Weird Tales is sponsoring tonight’s party in Maxi’s Lounge on the 14th floor. This is Norwescon’s first year with exclusive use of Maxi’s Lounge; help make it a huge success by joining Weird Tales and your friends up in our new space. Weird Tales and their fabulous authors will be providing the night’s entertainment. It is 21 and over, with ID and Norwescon badges required. You must match your ID, so watch the makeup and masks. Weird Tales promises to give you a thrilling time you won’t soon forget, so join us for the inaugural night in Maxi’s Lounge. (21+ with ID)

Saturday

  • 10am-5pm: 501st Charity Photo Shoot, Rotunda 2: Have you ever wanted to have your picture taken with Darth Vader and/or Storm Troopers on the Death Star? Your dreams can come true; the 501st Legion is back again, but in a new location. You can find them in the second floor Rotunda where a photographer will take your picture in front of a backdrop of the Death Star. Your picture will be printed out on-site, ready to show off to your friends! This year all proceeds will be donated to Clarion West, a charity that provides high-quality educational opportunities for writers of speculative fiction at the start of their careers. Norwescon is very excited to be sponsoring Clarion West this year as it is dear to many of our panelists and guests.

  • 11am-1pm: Star Trek: Phoenix Premier, Grand 2: Star Trek: Phoenix is returning to Norwescon! Cast and crew are coming back to share the premiere in a special fan screening of the Phoenix pilot, ‘Cloak & Dagger,’ on April 3. The pilot takes place in 2422, one year into the USS Phoenix’s maiden voyage. After a major attack on the ship, the captain and crew launch a mission to rescue an away team stranded on the remote planet Katrassii Prime. But, the closer they get to rescuing their shipmates, the more they become entangled in the secrets contained on the perilous, hostile planet. A “Making Of” documentary and a Q&A session featuring cast and producers follow the screening. Star Trek: Phoenix is a fan-based series set 42 years in the future from Star Trek: Nemesis.

  • 1pm-2pm: Autograph Session #2, Evergreen 3 and 4: John P. Alexander, Carol Berg, David Boop, SatyrPhil Brucato, Ted Butler, Bruce R. Cordell, Dr. John G. Cramer, Jeff Davis, A.M. Dellamonica, Cory Doctorow, James Ernest, Yasmine Galenorn, Daryl Gregory, Jeff Grubb, Eileen Gunn, Brandon Jerwa, Jak Koke, Ian McDonald, John Jude Palencar, Kevin Radthorne, Ken Scholes, Lorelei Shannon, Jack Skillingstead, G.Robin Smith, S. J. Tucker, Vernor Vinge, Gareth Von Kallenbach

  • 2pm-3pm: Autograph Session #3, Evergreen 3 and 4: Myke Amend, Brenda Cooper, Dr. John G. Cramer, Cory Doctorow, S. Joe Downing, Roberta Gregory, Mark Henry, Jean Johnson, Rosemary Jones, Mary Robinette Kowal, G. David Nordley, John Jude Palencar, Joshua Palmatier, Adrian Phoenix, Cat Rambo, Sean K Reynolds, Renee Stern, Ben Thompson, Amy Thomson, Vernor Vinge, Rob Welch

  • 3pm-4pm: Interview with Vernor Vinge, Evergreen 2

  • 6pm-8pm: Babel, Presidential Suite: Come join representatives from local fannish clubs and learn about opportunities to help your community while having fun! Several of our local fan groups will be available to fill you in on what their club does. If you’ve always wondered what these groups do, come meet them, and find out!

  • 8pm-10pm: Masquerade Photo Shoot, Lobby: (I won’t be shooting the Masquerade itself; rather, I’ll be in the photo pit set up in the lobby, taking shots of Masquerade entrants and as many hall costumes as we can haul over to the backdrop.)

  • 9pm-2am: Star Trek: Phoenix Night, Maxi’s Lounge: Beam up to Maxi’s Lounge and have some drinks with your fellow congoers! This fabulous event will be sponsored by Star Trek: Phoenix so prepare to boldly go where no congoer has gone before. Make sure you bring your Norwescon badge and your photo ID (21 and over). The drinks will be out of this world and the music hopping, so don’t miss your opportunity to be part of this brand new event. (21+ with ID)

  • 10:30pm-3am: Saturday Night Hoedown, Grand 2 and 3: Put on your best square dancing shoes and help put Norwescon to bed with mc300baud and his eclectic collection of tracks. Expect the unexpected as he spins rave, wave, goth, alternative, electronica and more late into the night and won’t let up until the cows come home.

Sunday

  • 10am-2pm: Fannish Flea Market, Grand 3: Love to go to flea markets and garage sales? Ever wished they had more fannish stuff? The SFFM is everything you have wished for: Norwescon attendees clear out their houses of stuff they don’t want, and it is all here for you to buy or barter for. Bring your cash and check out the bargains and incredible stuff people are getting rid of.

  • 11:30am-2pm: NWC 33 Art Auction, Grand 2: The Norwescon Art Auction will be a fun and exciting battle for most desired works of art from this year’s art show. And if that isn’t enough, come help support our two charities this year, Clarion West and Northwest Harvest, by bidding on art, jewelry, and other objects of interest that have been donated by our dealers, professional guests, and fans to support these two great organizations!

  • 2pm-4pm: Fandance Film Festival, Evergreen 1 and 2: In its eleventh year, the Festival is a celebration of low- and no-budget cinema, brought to wondrous lurching life by amateur filmmakers from all around the Pacific Northwest. More than just the movies, this 120-minute extravaganza of entertainment also includes the filmmakers regaling you with terrifying tales of their productions. Be there or be a regular right quadrilateral! The Fandance Film Festival is the final terrifying phase of the Let’s Make a Movie Workshop, in which participants walk through every step of making a movie, from conception to the premiere of the finished product. This year at Norwescon marks the eleventh installment of the Let’s Make a Movie Workshop!

  • 5pm-6pm: Closing Ceremonies, Evergreen 3 and 4: William Sadorus(M), Dr. John G. Cramer, Cory Doctorow, David Hartwell, Tracey Knoedler, John Jude Palencar, Vernor Vinge

Things I love about the geek community: within the first half hour of Saturday’s Norwescon planning meeting, I was complimented on my shoes (black converse with a white “hawaiian monkey skull” design that looks vaguely Grateful Dead-ish), my belt (the Utilikilts airplane belt), and my shirt (Frakkin’ Toasters). The utilikilt, however, was too everyday and normal for this crowd to be worthy of mention. This greatly amused me.

(I actually did get a compliment on the Utilikilt as well, toward the end of the meeting. This left only my socks and undershirt as uncomplimented wardrobe items by the time I left. I may not be a conventional dresser, but apparently I’m a pretty snappy dresser…at least by geek standards!)

Also: regular slips when mentioning URLs and e-mail addresses due to the recent change from a .net to a .org address, with accompanying cries of “ORG…(asm)…!” from the peanut gallery. The only meeting I’ve ever been to with that many public (dot)org(asmic) cries. Hilarious.

Also nice: a meeting that not only progresses on schedule, but ends a full hour earlier than planned. Impressive organization, and a nice job of keeping the meeting on track even with fairly regular outbreaks of geeky silliness and rabble rousing.

This is my first year getting involved with Norwescon beyond showing up and snapping pictures, and I think it’s going to be a fun experience.

As most who pay much attention to my ramblings know, I’ve spent three out of the past four years wandering around Norwescon taking pictures (29, 30, and 32). A couple of weeks ago I got an invitation from the Norwescon 33 publications director asking if I might be interested in the con photographer position. I, of course, said that I was very interested, and we agreed to meet at today’s Volunteer Appreciation Picnic.

So, today I showed up at the picnic, chatted with Adrienne for a bit, and signed on as photographer for Norwescon 33! This will be pretty low-key for most of the year, getting shots of various meetings and Norwescon promotional events as they happen, and then be pretty intensive (but fun!) during the con itself, adding getting official shots of key events (the opening ceremonies, panels with the guests of honor, the Masquerade, the Fetish Fashion Show, etc.) as well as the usual candids and hall costumes that I’ve been doing on my own. I’m really looking forward to this, it’s a great way to combine interests and have a lot of fun doing it!

So that’s my little happydance for the day. Woohoo!