Fortunately, my division, Special Events, had somewhat better luck. The heads of the various events tended to stick for the duration and required little supervision, a handy thing since it fell to me to pick up a second hat for Hotel Liaison, and, at con, to be the major supplies procurer for the Con Suite, both of which kept me quite busy.
The con opened for me Wednesday, going with Henry and Char Haas to make an initial con suite buy and load in gear such as coolers and drink tubs for storage in the headquarters suite.
Thursday, we dealt with minor issues. The major event was a gathering of early arrivers and staff at the Safe House, Milwaukee's spy-themed nightclub, which was a pleasant way to start the con and a lot of fun.
Friday morning we got off to a quick start at least with issues. Setting up Registration went OK until trying to introduce the printer to the computer, which took a lot of fiddling to find we didn't have the right drivers for it. It also appeared that the transfer of data on online registrations to the spreadsheet was less than perfect. However, we cheerfully honored everyone who presented themselves as pre-reg, with no problems. Kudos to Carol Inkpen, Phillip Inkpen, and Jim Inkpen, who handled a lot of this pressure with perfect grace.
Friday panels and events got running OK with the usual tweaks one expects at any convention. Robin Netherton, our featured speaker, was an exceptionally good guest and gave excellent and informative presentations. Georgie and I ducked out to dinner for fish fry at Karl Ratzch's restaurant, which was VERY good. The Friday night Social was well attended and the outfits were fabulous. I (doing "Emilio Largo" from "Thunderball") and "Marshal" Larry Chadderton held up the "Casino Night" theme by dealing blackjack for door prize tickets to a small but enthusiastic group of players. The Social included the costume parade for the Single Pattern Contest, which was a very good masquerade in itself and would have graced most regional SF cons. The winner was "FRUMPS" (Fancy Red Uniform Mounted Police) which translated the women's tail coat pattern into a satin version of the familiar Canadian Mounted Police uniform.
Saturday morning, I was most pleased to see that both the hotel staff and the delivery crew from Karl's Event Rental (which provided the pipe and drape) had set up early and well, tech setup was well underway, and the stage was ready for rehearsals to start. I spent the day orbiting between keeping tabs on the masquerade progress, running out for more consuite supplies, tweaking room setups, and managed to catch some program bits and spend a bit in the dealers room (Steampunk goggles from Blond Swan--). Georgie, I and Henry caught dinner at the Miller Pub in the hotel building, which has a very limited menu, but what there is is good and generously proportioned. Amazingly enough for a "sports bar" you could actually hear to think and talk, and the TV screens aren't as much distraction as decoration (it took me quite a while to make the intellectually appalling realization that the dozen or so screens were showing at least six different channels, all sports related--.)
We had agreed to help out Jennifer Kelly, the SF and F masquerade chair, backstage, and found ourselves attached to Ann Catelli's crew of "ninjas", with Georgie on stage right as part of the "launch" crew, as the majority of entrances were made from that side, and I was on stage left as part of the "catch" crew, since most of the exits went that way. There were a few tense moments, notably during the entry of the "Backstage at Master Payne's Circus of Adventure" group, when "Master Payne" accidentally stepped off the back of the stage while placing the group's banner. However, he was OK, and things swiftly got back underway. The presentations were all of a very high caliber, and none of us envied the judges their task. Moebius Theatre, who also provided the lighting and sound equipment, gave us a very witty and enjoyable half-time show.
We were up and at it early Sunday with another con suite supply run, which caused us to miss the Future Fashion Show, but fortunately there is video on DVD--. I spoke on two panels Sunday afternoon, on one buying vs. making ethics in costuming, which was lively and interesting, and one on basic makeup, with me and Kevin Roche, which was very well received. Georgie and I broke for dinner at "The Chop House", which is the hotel's high-end restaurant, but took advantage of the early-hour light dinner special. Everything was very good, and the waitstaff was very friendly and cooperative in getting us in and out quickly. After dinner, I took food supplies to the Green Room while Georgie changed for the evening, and we got seats for the Historical Masquerade, which was also marvelous to see. All in all, I consider this to be one of the finest cons for costume I've ever experienced, despite the fact there were no really huge groups or devices. Even the hall costumes, and there were many, would have made a spectacular WorldCon masquerade a few years ago. The judges took more than an hour to reach decisions, which gave Georgie plenty of time to write out the award certificates in her calligraphic script. This also gave plenty of time for some on-stage photography and larking about. The appearance of "Waldo" on stage ended up with what seemed like half the audience on stage, and the other half taking pictures. The "Best of Show" costume, which also took first places for Documentation and Presentation, "Forgotten Finery", was an essentially perfect reproduction of an early Twentieth Century Nez Perce woman's festival dress, presented with a quiet dignity that totally suited it. The fact that this costume was honored above a really outstanding crop of more spectacular costumes showed the integrity of the judging process and the Historical Masquerade's commitment to its goals.
This morning, we broke down the Con Suite and consolidated remaining operations to the headquarters suite. I bought the full DVD set. There's a dead dog tonight, but we're home and going to bed early.
Everything I saw seemed to have gone off successfully. The dealers that showed up seemed to have done well. There were some glitches, but no problems occurred that couldn't be fixed. Everyone I interacted with seemed to be having a good time--and I guess that's the definition of a successful con.