April 11th, 2009

Manga Kevin

That's a Match!

Without an internet connection in my room, I did not get a report posted last night -- besides, we were really tired. Photos will have to come later, because they are in Lisa's camera, and she's trying to get some sleep this afternoon. The show last night went really well. We pulled a bit of a surprise on the first game, but it was a good one. I explained that I'd agreed that in exchange for them coming to help set up, I seated the first two contestants in advance. I introduced them, and asked the triangle contestant, Ron Dougherty, if there was anyone in the audience he wanted to introduce, and he called out his girlfriend, Yvonne Reide, who was sitting in the front row.

I asked him to pick A or B, and when he picked A, I read the question: "Yvonne Reide said, 'I've been waiting forever for Ron Dougherty to say _____!'"

Ron stood up, walked over to Yvonne, went down on one knee, produced an ring, and proposed marriage to her on the spot. She was understandably flabbergasted, but the did accept. The two embraced, the bell sounded, and I said, "I do believe we have a match!"

Yes, of course it was a set-up -- but Yvonne didn't know it was coming, which was the point. Ron had contacted me some time ago with this idea, and I worked out a way to make it happen convincingly within the format we're using. I'd printed the same question for A or B so there was no worry about him forgetting which one to choose. (I gave the newly-engaged couple the A/B cards as souvenirs, and they took pictures with me in front of the game signs during our half-time break.)

After the proposal excitement, we called up the first two "real" contestants and got the show rolling. We had a full house -- SRO at times -- and an enthusiastic audience. After the first three games, we took a 15 minute break (experience has taught us of the need for a break at this point), then came back with Late Nite -- although actually, people were relatively restrained in their answers. In any event, the second session was just as much fun as the first, and I think pretty much everyone went away happy. Jeff Hulten did fine work as our announcer, Lisa kept the tech working (although I know there was some frantic paddling going on at times as equipment behaved in unpredictable ways), and Kuma Bear supervised the Tech Table.

Speaking of Tech, we have a new piece of gear for this show. The Yes/No bell/buzz effects are produced by programming my laptop to map those sound effects to the keyboard. Lisa has always disliked this because of the chance of damaging the computer by over-enthusiastic key-punching. So she built a box with two buttons on it that generates "left mouse" and "right mouse," plugged it into the laptop by USB cable, and mapped those mouse buttons to the SFX. This allowed for banging away on the box without chance of harming the computer. In fact, we could actually close the laptop's case while it was running. She's happy with that new item.

Turns out that except for the speakers and mic stand, Lisa had brought everything else she needed to do the show, including cables. In fact, one challenge we had was, after the show ended, from keeping the Norwescon Tech Team from taking Lisa's cables. It's perfectly understandable, but eventually we managed to convince them that yes, really, those are our cables, not theirs.

We also finally managed to give away the copy of Jay Lake's Escapement, which has been knocking around our prize mix for a long time but was a hoodoo -- nobody could win the bonus round when the prize came up. We put that book into every bonus round prize this year, and the hoodoo claimed the first five contestants before finally the sixth and final contestant matched and won the book along with a Cargo Cult gift certificate. If he hadn't won, I was going to start calling contestant from the audience and running Super Match over and over until someone won that book.

Tear-down was far less frantic, and we rather sedately moved our gear back to the room, then put some of it in the van. We had a great time, and I'm very pleased with how it all turned out. And the marriage proposal was front-page news on the convention newsletter today. (Thanks, solarbird!)
Kevin and Lisa

Wild Grocery Chase

At about 2 AM this morning, I noted that there were actually multiple empty parking spaces in the lot, so we thought we could risk going out to do our party shopping for tonight. The Doubletree's parking lot is so overloaded by Norwescon that during the day or evening, giving up a parking spot means you probably will never get any space back at all. We'd been reassured that there was a 24-hour Safeway just a short way up International Blvd. We headed south on International, and a couple of miles later found a Safeway -- which closed at 1 AM! We tried going north and found nothing. It was getting on for 3 AM by then, so we gave up.

Once I got down to the table today, I looked it up online and found that there was a 24-hour Safeway, but it wasn't on International, but on Military Road at 164th St -- not really that far away, but you have to know where it is. But now we don't dare move the van. Instead, we probably will use the 174 bus, which runs every 30 minutes, to head down to that first Safeway. There are bus stops in front of our hotel and in front of that grocery store. We should be able to make it work, but it's a hassle, that's for sure. The things we do for fandom....
Kevin and Lisa

Grocery Shopping Done

After lisa_marli relieved me from the table, Lisa and I went across the road and had lunch at Jack in the Box. The 174 bus went by while we ate, so we knew we had 30 minutes until the next one, so we walked several stops down the line to get exercise after the fatty, carb-laden fast food. I guess we actually walked maybe one-third of the distance to the Safeway. Our grocery shopping was relatively light -- Lisa had done the heavy stuff, all non-perishable, on the way up. This was for relatively light, perishable stuff like cheese.

Fortunately, the next return bus was only 4 minutes away when we got the to bus stop, and the transfer off the southbound bus could be used to go the other way, so the total cost for the travel was only $3.50.

Lisa sent me back down to the table to do the "closing shift" until 6 PM and to give her a chance to decompress and rest a little bit. I'll then head back and we'll work on room set-up until I have to go to my 8 PM panel, from which I expect to leave early in order to be back in the room by our 9 PM opening. Again, with no internet in the room, I won't be sending any messages during the party.

We asked at the front desk about extending our stay for one more night so that Lisa didn't have to move all her stuff out first thing tomorrow morning, but they will only give us the standard rate of $145, and that's more than we want to pay.
WSFS Captain 1

Norwescon People Watching

I've really enjoyed watching Norwescon go on around me this year, more so than in past years, even though (as expected) none of the people here seem interested in Westercon or Worldcon. (That doesn't count the 10% who have already made up their minds.) But there's a huge number of people in costume here, and the average age is a lower than a lot of the conventions I've attended of late. There's an energy here missing from many other events.