* Went out to dinner with several West Coast friends esrblog
and I haven't seen for a while;
* Watched the Chaos Machine (yes, Steve Jackson was there, and set it up);
* Ate shabu-shabu at a good Japanese restaurant;
* Took part in a belly-dancing workshop;
* Watched fireworks bursting over Disneyland;
* Played Twister, for the first time in decades;
* Danced to "Time Warp" (from the Rocky Horror Picture Show);
* Beta-tested the next flavor of Munchkin--Munchkin Cthulhu!
* Went to a memorial party for Jim Baen, the publisher;
* Almost got to go to lunch with Naomi Novik (she was too exhausted and cancelled at the last minute);
* Introduced Eric to a book dealer who sold him lots of ACE doubles;
* Spent too much money and got too little sleep.
LAConIV was a lot like the last Worldcon I went to in Anaheim, CA. On the surface, it was slick and well-organized. Some of the details, however, were a bit awry. For example, the person the program book said was to be teaching the belly dancing workshop never showed up--two of the would-be attendees who are also belly dance instructors leapt in to fill the gap at the last minute. The other panel I went to, which esrblog
was on, was called "Coping with Celebrity." Kevin Drum and Craig Newmark (of Craig's List) were the other two members. However, esrblog
was the only panelist who had any problems at all in coping with celebrity, since the other two men aren't usually recognized on the street. The rest was an unusually dull, unfocused panel--conducted while Harlan Ellison did his usual larger-than-life tantrum thing in the hallway just outside (as though he didn't know anything about coping with celebrity).
The dealer's room was of a good size, but was kind of hidden by the huge amount of exhibits and fan tables in the front of the room, and didn't get as much traffic as the dealers had hoped. There was an anime room, and there were showings of the films that made the Hugo nomination list for Best Dramatic Presentation (Serenity won, for movie-length DP), but no regular movie room (maybe they are going out of fashion?).
Some of the exhibits, however, were neat. They included a display (which was right at the front of the room, where you walked in) of famous movie robots, including the original Dalek, a life-sized Jessica Rabbit, the original Robby the Robot from Lost in Space, C3PO and R2D2, among others. Less interesting were the cheesy Star Trek bridge and Batmobile mock ups where you could have your picture taken for $10 (the Star Trek one had wax museum figures of the original crew members, that were realistic enough to look very scary without being realistic enough to look real) and the amateurish reproduction of the Apollo 11 lunar lander module.
The con's most annoying default was the way it handled the games room. Unlike most SF conventions, the convention did not provide a games library for people to use; instead, they depended upon potential GMs to run games according to a schedule the con set up, or upon game dealers to provide some of their own games (Steve Jackson did that, which is how we were able to play Munchkin Cthulhu). What this meant in practice is that much less gaming actually got done than you'd expect at a convention the size of Worldcon, as people like me, who like to game but also like to do other things at a convention, looked around frantically for friends of theirs who had had the foresight to bring along some of their games. Fortunately, we found some. esrblog
and I managed to get into a 5-player Puerto Rico game in which he racked up a record-breaking 78 points!
The shabu-shabu dinner was fun, considering that before we stumbled upon the restaurant, I didn't even know what shabu-shabu was. Shabu-shabu, the waiter told us, means "swish swish" in Japanese, and features meat and other food that you cook in a pot of simmering water. This particular restaurant was willing (for a much larger than average price) to serve you raw slices of Kobe beef to cook in this manner. You were also given a soy sauce mixture and a sesame-flavored mixture, into which you could stir chopped daikon (a type of radish) to thicken them; I had the less expensive beef and some chicken, which was very tasty, especially when dipped into the daikon-and-sesame sauce. (The little strainer paddle they gave you to fish your newly-cooked noodles out of the water was not very effective at that job, however.)
Ironically, we saw the fireworks display from the balcony of the Baen suite during the Jim Baen memorial. There were types of firework I have never seen before. One exploded into a sphere of white stars, with two elliptical rings of dark blue stars around it, in the classic 1950s shape of an atom. Another was a red, square shape. esrblog
left on Sunday afternoon, the day before I did, for a business meeting in San Diego. So I finished the con by hanging out at the Dead Pluto Party and locating zsero
and a bunch of other fen for a gaming debauch that lasted until two o'clock in the morning.
Overall, it was a very satisfying Worldcon.