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Monday, September 20, 2004

A Mighty Fine Shindig

My first fan convention has come and gone. And you know what? I really enjoyed it. Really. A lot.

We headed out Friday morning and zipped through the aiport process with a minimum of fuss (and allow me to personally recommend Anza Park and Sky - fast and cheap!). We landed in Chicago and were picked up at the airport by one of the convention organizers. This was such an amazing welcoming gesture, that I reckoned the rest of the weekend would probably involve hanging out with a lot of other amazingly friendly, kind folks. Things were still being pulled together upstairs, so after getting checked in and changing shirts (and eating my Hand of Blue cookie and checking out the other goodies in my goody bag), we (Karen, Paul, and I) headed for the Navy Pier. Mostly the Navy Pier is a really long pier full of tourist shops, but they also had a really fabulous, free, walkthrough stained glass museum. After getting back from the pier, we changed and headed up to the roof for the Sinohn Welcome dinner. It was a Chinese dinner, with custom fortune cookies that said things like "You look better in red." and "Time for some thrilling heroics." There was a pan-asian tea ceremony, and then we all got to play with origami. I made a blind, albino, man-eating cow. (It was the easiest to make, and the paper ended up wrong side out, so my yellow cow was even paler than expected.) There was origami judging, and the custom "brown coat" lost out to the very charming "green frog" by a hair, which surprised me, since we were after all at the Browncoats Ball. After dinner we headed downstairs for some lounging in the Blue Sun room and watching a couple of episodes projected on a big sheet. Finally, we concluded our evening with a trip to "The Bordello", a fabulously decorated room. I ended up talking with one of the Amys and getting to know her. She's a social worker in Nashville, and really, just about one of the nicest folks I met all weekend. We all sat around and chatted for a hour or so, and then called it a night and headed up to the room to sleep.

Saturday morning began with a the train ride. Turns out, in Chicago, you can rent an El train on the weekends. We had our own train car, decorated to the nines with baloons, and wanted posters, and crepe paper. The cop/conductor, John, was a hoot and got involved in the party. We took a scenic tour of Chicago, stopping for some major landmarks and pretty bridges. As we made it back to the station, we started to undecorate the train. I had my hair up in two little buns (a la Kaylee), so I had Ray tie a balloon to each one. Eventually they got me to jump up and down and Ray got some great footage of the balloons bouncing off my head. The great thing about being with trusted friends in an environment full of geeks is that it's easy to be your silliest self. After the train ride, we headed out to the Celtic festival, taking photos for the digital scavenger hunt along the way. Yes, we happened to hit Chicago the same weekend as their big Celtic festival in Grant Park. First stop: the ceili tent. They were doing Scottish ceilidh, so we came back later for some Irish ceili, because the Seige of Ennis is always the Seige of Ennis. Tromping back across town, ogling the lovely gothic architecture of the Tribune building, and the lovely deco architecture fo the Hard Rock Hotel, we made it back with just enough time to get ready for the ball. I grabbed my dance notes and we headed downstairs. My dress was a big hit. All bows and lace and Kaylee-fied goodness. That is, until another girl walked in in her copy of the actual Kaylee dress. It was stunning. At the ball, I dragged everyone through a grand march, then taught them the Spanish Circle Waltz, Sellinger's Round, and then Paul taught the Bonfire Reel. We also did a demo of Congress of Vienna, and a couple of other waltzes. Surprisingly enough, everyone loved it. There must've been four or five people who came up afterwards to thank me for teaching the dances. It was surprising to see so much appreciation for it. After the dance session, there was a presentation by Lukeski, who did several Dr. Demento style songs about Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. He was really hilarious. Next was an awards ceremony, with prizes such as "The most Kaylee-fied dress" and "The Captain Tightpants" award. Finally, the last award was for Mr. and Miss Persephone. They called up Ray for Mr. Persephone. They called his name and he didn't budge. He finally said, "Oh! Me!' and jumped up. Next was Miss Persephone, won by yours truly. They really liked the dance lessons, apparently. I blushed and got my crown and sash and thanked everyone for indulging my little dance obsession. The night continued with a bunch of New Wave music and 80's dancing. I droped most of my dress in favor of my underthings - corset, bloomers, tights and boots and boogied the night away. After the main ball shut down, we headed up to the Blue Sun room for a couple more episodes, and then I let everyone else head back to the Bordello while I went back to the room to pack up and sleep.

The next morning was a nice breakfast, followed by a train ride to the airport, a fast, easy check-in (ATA Airlines is very cool), a hand of Fluxx, and a plane ride home. We arrived at the airport, grabbed the luggage, and jumped the Anza Park and Sky shuttle, and were at the movie theaters by 7:40 for a showing of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow". It was very very pretty, and just the proper ending to a weekend full of new friends, good tv, and dancing.

Other things of note:
- Meeting Shanna was cool. Can't wait to read her book. It's coming out next summer.
- There were five Amys, out of less than 80 participants. Apparently, you're more likely to be a fan of Firefly if you are named Amy. Go figure.
- Hoops pack so nicely. I'm continually astonished by their ability to be tardis-like. I only had carry-on luggage.

Okay, gotta do that job thing. Next stop: Housewarming on Saturday. Yikes!

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