May 30th, 2003

Wiscon, Friday, May 23

Georgie and I headed off to WisCon early Friday morning, partly because we were making a stop in at The Chocolate caper in Oregon, Wisconsin, to pick up cake and chocolates for the party we were helping to host on Sunday night. If you are in the Madison area and haven't tried Chocolate Caper chocolate, you must if you care for chocolates at all--they are the best! Besides, Claude and Ellen who run the place are the coolest people imaginable.

We got to the Concourse and checked in about 11:30am, which gave us plenty of time to get moved in before setup for the Gathering. We were pleased to have a room on the fourth floor, which was quite handy to all the function spaces. We had agreed to staff the "Custom Button" table and were happy to find out that our co-staffer was very skilled with the button maker. We got off to a slow start as initially people were attracted to the more glamourous activities such as Tarot readings by Suzy McKee Charnas and balloon squids from Pat Murphy, but we fairly quickly attracted a line of our own and had a decent assembly line set up for cutting paper and assembling buttons, while Georgie consulted with customers about desired designs and slogans. The Gathering seemed to be a really popular event so far as we could see. I bought several buttons myself, and also a packet of REALLY powerful Sri Lankan Curry Powder from Marianne Mohanraj.

After chasing off the last button customer at 5:30, we ran out to our usual Friday night dinner spot, the Radical Rye, for quick sandwiches before the opening ceremonies. We hooked up with "Uncle Don" Helley, who was helping us with the opening Skit while there. Then back to the Hotel to change, get set up, and rehearse the skit.

"Real Stories of the Information Highway Patrol," was written by myself, Lee Schneider, and Georgie a few years ago for a small con that had very little overlap with WisCon, and it updated quite well. (I need to upload the script to the website--) Kudos to Madisonians Jim Hudson (the Slowpoke), Bill Bodden (the Kid), Tracy Benton (the Surfer), Don Helley (the Hacker) and George Bass (the Spammer). The audience seemed to enjoyed it and laughed at most of the jokes, so I judge the performance a success. We got several good comments on it after, and Georgie was also complimented on her very sharp announcer suit.

My first panel was later that night, on "The Genius Child." Elise Matthesen did a good job moderating, and the discussion was quite lively and informative. After that, we only had energy enough to hit a couple of parties briefly (OddCon, premiering the fourth in the series of T-shirt and logo designs by Georgie)and went to bed about 1:00am.

WisCon, Saturday, 05-24-03

On Saturday morning, we made our obligatory pilgrimage to the Farmer's Market, which starts with croissants from L'Etoile. We encountered Milwaukeeans Shelia Haberland and Pat Bowne while we shuffled around the Square and bought lilacs for the party.

Back at the con, we hit the panel on "Older Female Questers," but found it to be disappointingly shapeless, as well as hard to hear in the large room (doubly so since Suzette Hayden Elgin was on the panel, but couldn't haul it into shape all by herself) so we ducked out to the Dealer's room and acquired a boatload of books from DreamHaven. The program item, "Ursula LeGuin and Carol Emshwiller Talk to Each Other," was funny and facinating as the two compared their very different backgrounds and writing styles.

Georgie and I were both on a panel in the early afternoon on "The City Underground" which took a good tour through Urban Fantasy, SF and Horror. As always, I noted other people's titles for future reading--.

For dinner, we took Britfans Maureen Kincaid-Speller and Paul Kincaid to L'Etoile, a place we regularly hit when in town, and they had both expressed interest in. For the uninitiated, L'Etoile is Madison's finest restaurant. Odessa Piper, the proprietor, is a disciple of Alice Waters, and a James Beard Award winner. Her emphasis on local fresh produce means that a spring menu includes such delights as new asparagus, morels, fern fiddleheads, and ramps, plus delicious meats and fish. Observing the awe and wonder on Maureen and Paul's faces as they dug in was worth the price of the dinner alone. (The Chocolate Vesuvius is a definite plus, though!)

After dinner, the Tiptree auction was next. Although we missed the early shenanigans, we were there for some awesome bidding as what must have been a record-setting auction. (Judging by bids, Ursula Le Guin could support the award with her embroidery single-handed.)Then back to the parties. Of course one had to stop in at the TOR party, and we also dropped in on Turbo-APA, Kansas City in '06, and Haiku Earring, where I traded thirteen syllables for a pair in red called "The Laughing Challenge."

WisCon Sunday, 05-25-03

Sunday was a big day for us. Ah, I forgot to mention that Georgie has been asked by the Tiptree committee to provide the official gift artwork to next year's winners! Thrill!

The "Interstitial Arts" panel was very interesting and exciting. Both of us hope to get involved with the movement very soon. (Georgie has already had a chance to look at their website,a nd found it very interesting with lots of good resources.)

At the noon break, we went party supply shopping with Tracy and Bill, and got the last minute stuff we would need.

We had one more panel to do just before the dinner break, "And I Found Me Alone on the Cold Hill's Side," about sleep and dreaming in fantasy and SF. Steve Schwarz was a great contributor, and the small but enthusiastic audience told us they thought it was a very good discussion.

Then, into party setup. We had been initally dismayed by the size of the room, which was the same one the TOR party uses--rather large and garishly lit for the more intimate party we had had in mind--but brainwork allowed us to both cut down on the lighting and break up the space with use of drapes and strategically placed furniture. We interspersed changing into party clothes with snatching bits of the GoH speeches--Carol Emshwiller funny and affecting, and China Mieville funny and ascerbic.

Georgie looked fantastic in her brilliant orange Indian ensemble (from "Ganesha's Treasures") and Tracy and Bill glittered as the Queen and King of the Nile. I went for more restrained elegance, as I expected to tend bar, and wore my frock coat, velvet vest, poet's shirt, tuxedo trousers, and my best jewelry. We attracted a lot of fabulously dressed people, and a good time was had by all, and we closed up about 1:00am when things seemed wound down.

Wer headed home fiarly early on Monday as we usually do. All in all, it was a very good WisCon for us, and we look forward to next year as ever.