Westercon – Final Day

The earliest items for Sunday at Westercon begin at 10AM.  Since Melissa and I are flying at 11:20, we do not have time to enjoy the convention today.  Therefore, yesterday was the last day of the convention for us.

It started much as the previous days had.  We woke up early enough to catch breakfast before attending a 10AM panel.  We ran into Michael in the lobby, and he joined us.  We went to a place called the Blue Lemon and had omelettes.

We made it back to the hotel and attended a couple of panels before going across the street to watch the live taping of Writing Excuses.  Michael was the guest on the show, following Peter Beagle.  Peter was a difficult act to follow, but Michael did well, and the audience was responsive with laughter and applause.  I’m really proud of Michael, and how far he’s come.

After Writing Excuses, Melissa and I made our way back to the Westercon side, and tried to figure out what we were going to do next.  I was considering going to a World Building panel, featuring Brandon Sanderson.  I knew it would be interesting, but I wasn’t particularly excited about attending it, as I feel that my world building is already pretty good.

Melissa had spotted Mary Robinette Kowal in the lobby.  Mary Robinette looked different, as she was dressed in a regency gown and had a very convincing hair clip.  Melissa thought it might have been Mary Robinette’s daughter.  Mary Robinette saw us and invited us to attend the regency dancing panel that was coming up.

I don’t think I’ve talked about dancing before.  To me, dancing is like cooking, in that I am very good at following instruction, but not so skilled at improvisation.  When I was doing amateur music theater in New Mexico and I joined the cast of Grease, the rest of the cast had been practicing the dances for a couple of weeks.  Within the first hour, I’d picked up the dances and was performing them more accurately than those that had been with the show from the beginning.  It sounds like I’m bragging, but I don’t mean to.  I can pick up and memorize the instruction, but I don’t take much joy in the dancing itself.

Because of this, I’ve always been resistant to taking ballroom dancing with Melissa.  Melissa has a more normal skill level with dancing.  I usually try to avoid activities with Melissa where I will find myself frustrated with her, especially when it’s not her fault.

Mary Robinette had invited us, though, and it was something well outside our normal comfort zone.  I told Melissa that it’s important to try and do at least one thing that frightens you at every convention, and she agreed.  We attended the regency dance.

We were both a little nervous before the lesson began.  Mary Robinette was passing out dresses to some of the ladies that weren’t wearing any.  The room was one of the normal conference rooms, with all of the chairs pulled to the walls.  I looked around at all the other couples sitting around the room, and I saw that most of them were nervous, too.  At that point, I sat up straighter and stopped being nervous.  We weren’t the only ones out of our element, and that gave me comfort.

The first part of the instruction was about posture.  We were to stand up straight, but relaxed, as though an invisible string was attached to our chest and was pulling us up.  This was difficult for me, because it was very close to standing at attention.  When I stood at attention in the Air Force, it was a very stiff stance, and we needed to not be stiff.

We were then told to partner up with people we didn’t know.  I think Melissa and I were the only ones that followed that instruction, though I didn’t find that out until much later.  Melissa wound up in one line, and I wound up in another.

I could write quite a bit about the dance, but I feel like I’ve already droned on quite a bit.  The instructor was very knowledgeable and funny, and he taught us not only about how to move, but how the people during the Regency period thought.  It was very interesting, and Melissa and I both had quite a bit of fun.  As I had expected, I picked the dance up very quickly, and received many compliments from the people that shared the line with me.

After the dance, Melissa and I attended an event that was a mix of trivia questioning and book signing with the authors.  It was in the large room.  In the back of the room, tables had been set up for authors to sell and sign books.  At the front of the room on the stage, groups of 4 of the authors would be called up to be asked trivia questions.  Some questions had been gathered from the audience, and if those questions stumped the authors, the person that supplied the question would get a prize.  I supplied to Harry Dresden questions, but mine were never asked.

This event was not very well executed.  They structure was not very consistent.  The people on stage often couldn’t hear the person asking the questions.  It was a little bit boring for both the people that were called up on stage, and the people in the crowd.  Melissa and I did our best to stay interested, but there was only so much we could do.  The event was not well executed.

I left just before 8 to attend what was described as a Dresden Files LARP.  I love the Dresden Files, and I like role-playing, though I was a little bit uncomfortable with the LARP aspect.  Melissa went off to find food, and wound up having some drinks with Michael and Jim.  I think Melissa had the better experience.

It wasn’t that the game was bad.  When I found out what it was all about, and what they were aiming for, I relaxed quite a bit, because it was really just a collaborative storytelling experience, much like the roleplaying games I try to enjoy normally.  One of  the problems was that 10 people had shown up to participate, and I was the only one that was prepared to get into a character and roleplay.

I did my best.  I assumed an accent, got into my character, and assumed the spotlight several times, so that I could cast it to other players in the game.  There is a phenomena in these sorts of games where if you roleplay with confidence, and try to play with people, they will usually reciprocate.  You can pass your confidence, real or imagined, on to other people.  This was no exception, and the people I played with responded fairly well.  Unfortunately, there were just too many people for me to charge up, and the person running the game was somewhat inert.

When the game was done, I felt clever and tired.  I returned to my room instead of going to con parties.  Melissa was there, and we went to bed relatively early.

Overall,  the convention was a success for us.  There were ups and downs, but more ups than downs.  Melissa had a really good time and enjoyed herself.  I had a good time, and I feel re-energized to write again.  That’s one of the things I love the most about conventions like this.  My writing engine gets refueled.

It’s been a really great weekend, and I’m looking forward to Convolution.  I bet Melissa will join me for that one, too, which would be fantastic.