Okay, okay, okay. I am a WUSS. Mention the words "mountain pass", "possible ice and snow" and "driving" in the same sentence and I will turn a little bit green. The trouble with Radcon is that it is in Pasco; the trouble with Pasco is that it is in the OTHER Washington (across said pass); and the trouble with me getting there is that - yes - I am a WUSS and although under normal circumstances the distance and even the existence of the mountain pass itself is not prohibitive the possibility of getting hit with a February ice-storm or snow-storm while at the pass or even cutting off my return route and getting me STUCK on the far side of the mountains until the thaw - well - it's enough to give me the shivers.
Which is why, when Entwife Judy (who may or may not have a LJ - not sure) said that she wanted to go to Radcon, that she would drive, and offered us a lift in her little mini RV, rdeck and I leapt at it and gratefully accepted.
The pass was okay, as far as that went, but it DID keep on trying to snow while we were on it (not successfully, I might add, but still...) and there was definite evidence that it HAD snowed before, quite spectacularly in fact, as we saw in the snowpack lingering on the roof of the Snoqualmie Summit Lodge where we stopped for lunch on the way out. So I was just as glad that we had a driver who was more confident in these circumstances than I might have been.
We had a scare on the way out, in the Lodge that I just mentioned, involving rdeck and an unfortunate accident... which could have been worse... but which still left me kind of white and shaking for the next three hours even though it hadn't happened to ME. A rule of marriage should be that husbands should not be allowed to scare their wives so comprehensively - but we shall draw a veil of tactful oblivion over the rest of it. Suffice it to say we arrived in Pasco after dark, and got deposited at the Red Lion, at which point we promptly discovered congenial company - and - well - the evening wore on into - well - into Radcon. Friends, and laughter, and much nuttiness.
Including a rehearsal for Opening Ceremonies. More nuttiness than usual even for Radcon.
About said nuttiness. More later...
Friday morning dawned traditional - a race down to the hotel foyer at around 8 AM to be picked up by a designated driver and taken to go visit a local school. This year it was the Kiona-Benton High School, and my companion, nisi_la, and I were duly delivered there on Friday morning to greet two separate groups of kids who came into the school library to hear us speak. School visits are always fabulous, and this was no exception - there is always, ALWAYS, at least one kid who "pops" and comes out of the woodwork with great big shining eyes and enough enthusiasm to power a manned mission to Mars and the idea that a writer like me, our mere presence there, our words, our interactions with the kids, has done something to fuel this gives me WINGS. Reaching out in the dark and touching the aura of a creature still in its chrysalis - somebody who might become a writer, in their turn, but even if not that somebody who might fall enough in love with words to become a lifelong reader - it's magic stuff, and I love love love Radcon for making this part of the con experience for those pros who are willing and able to participate in the program. No other con I have gone to has done the same thing - and it is partly this that sets Radcon apart from ALL of the rest for me, this chance to speak to the younger and upcoming generations.
Then we came back to the hotel, sometime just before noon, and discovered that the registration line for Radcon now snaked past the hotel registration desk and all the way back past the restaurant. We kind of went, wow, that's a hella lot of people. But I had a panel at 2, on blogging, of all things (hello, readers of THIS post [grin]) and although the audience was rather small, given the size of the line out there, well, there weren't enough people REGISTERED yet to go to these early panels, so that was okay. We had some fun, made some interesting points. It was fine.
Then it was back to the green room and chatter and socialisation, and waiting for the "dress rehearsal" of the Opening Ceremonies skit that I was part of.
Okay. Well. Here I need to provide a little background.
1) The Opening Ceremonies skit. Back at Orycon, radconbob, in his usual inimitable fashion, came in from out of left field with two seeming unrelated questions. First he wanted to know if I could sing. Then, at an Orycon breakfast, he suggested that I stand up so that he could take a good look at me (as if he never saw me before. Pshaw.) The upshot of these two seemingly unrelated events was that I was promptly cast as Doctor Horrible in the Gender Bender Doctor Horrible skit in the Radcon opening ceremonies.
SOMEBODY took a video of what eventually transpired. I hope. Because the cast of this thing took it and ran with it. A ripped Captain Hammer (female) who was giving on-stage "Wedgies" to sooj, who was not Moist but "Wett, now. ALL Wett." (obviously, female); a (female) Doctor Horrible, who was, well, ME - complete in red lab coat and black gloves which by the way were about two sizes too big and made it kinda hard to hold on to props like my plastic Tommy-gun with the words "Freeze Ray" taped on it with duct tape; and a thoroughly complex casting, given his personal history, of Alexander James Adams as Penny (now Benny, a male). The explanation for all this, which I offered in the skit with a deadpan face, was that Doctor Horrible had to use the Freeze Ray to save Penny's life... and it had, um, side effects.
I got to make my entrance as the villain/eponymous protag of the piece, walking down the central aisle to the music of Darth Vader's theme from Star Wars, having just been introduced by sooj with filked-up versions of "Small World" and "The Grinch". I was in one fell swoop a Dark Lord of the Sith, the Grinch, and Doctor Horrible. It was absolutely DELIGHTFUL.
Here's a pic somebody took of me with my own camera:
If somebody out there has a better pic (and I know people took some!) would you pretty please send it to me....? (and if anyone DID take that video, I WANT IT...)
But that was far from the end of the fabulousness of the Opening Ceremonies.
First of all, there was the announcement of the winners of the writing competition. The middle school winners were announced, and then the High School category, and I was UTTERLY DELIGHTED to find out that the first-prize winner of this section of the competition was the very same young writer to whom I had once awarded the first prize in a writing competition back when he was still in middle school - and who is now the self-same Zach who is a part of my Teen Advisory Council over at the Rebirth of a Novel blog. I knew this young man had it in him, I knew it when I first laid eyes on something he had written, and I could not be prouder of him. I believe he is only just beginning.
So THAT was a major highlight for me, seeing a young writer whom I have somewhat taken under my wing do well.
But then, ah, then, the culmination of a plot that had been cooking since last November, when I, in a mad response to hearing about an article which claimed that there were "radioactive rabbits" loose near Hanford, said that this was of course all radconbob's fault. And that we should present him with a radioactive bunny at the end of Radcon opening ceremonies. Together with a piteous cry of , "What have you DONE...?"
The plot bunny was launched, and boy, did the whole thing snowball. Other people took it to a whole new level - ramblin_phyl coordinated a mailing list, on which it was agreed that all of us conspirators would show up at Radcon with handfuls of stuffed rabbits which would be left around the con with radioactive stickers on them; cscole took it upon herself to produce a series of ASTONISHINGLY awesome posters where rabbits with big googly eyes announced things like "Will work for radioactive tumbleweed" - and, more than that, stayed up until all hours on Thursday night so that Friday morning the con would be festooned with these bunnies and the posters which had apparently come out of absolutely nowehere; joycemocha became our delivery person, and her costume (the Radioactive Playboy Bunny) underwent several... interesting... iterations. In the meantime, Penguin of Orycon had joined the conspiracy club and was making us a "Harvey", which is what our presentation bunny became known as.
And all of this was kept carefully secret from Radcon Bob, who noticed (of course) the proliferation of the radioactive bunny materials around the con but had no idea what they were, why they were there, or who had been responsible for putting them there.
He was presented with the lime-green Harvey, one of whose feet proved to be "detachable" in a not-so-lucky rabbit foot kind of way, at the conclusion of the Opening Ceremonies, at which point Doctor Horrible (moi) also handed him an invitation to join the Evil League of Evil.
It is seldom that one sees Radcon Bob speechless.
We saw Radcon Bob speechless that night.
It was sight to behold.
The bunnies were supposed to be collected afterwards with the idea that they might have been donated to a kids charity or something - but they quickly became a hotly contested collectors item, and by Friday night most of them had vanished.
People are going to REMEMBER this Radcon, ohyestheywill. I already thanked all my co-conspirators, profusely, but I hereby thank them all again. WE PULLED IT OFF (no, not the rabbit's foot - well, that too - but the whole thing). We did it. YOU did it. A job well done. Thank you all, again, and again, so very much.
Afterwards, off to a few room parties (including a visit to 10 Forward, where rdeck had a "Romulan Ale"...) and then bed.
There was still Saturday to come.
Saturday was opened by being a part of a Young Writers Workshop, a two-hour stint of it at 9 AM, and it was an immense amount of fun, sitting there talking about the nuts and bolts of writing by a handful of kids (one of whom was one of the middle school prize winners honoured the night before at Opening Ceremonies) The two hours fled like minutes, and then it was time to go down to the book signing - which was also scheduled for two hours - which also fled like minutes while we sat behind an autographing table with a bunch of other authors and friends, and even if nobody at all stopped by your table you were still having a wonderful time. As it happened, people did - and bought books - and stayed to chat - and this is always just gravy, a bonus, the cherry on the top. We did well.
Then it was on, at about 2:30 that afternoon and after a lot of interesting interactions with people who had a previous incarnation of the con schedule where the event had been announced for FRIDAY at quite a different location, to the "Tea with the Duchess" thing that has somehow become a Radcon tradition.
This year, we were set up in the hallway which usually serves as the area for the readings, right outside the small press room, and we had three tables set out, complete with tablecloths and runners, and bone china cups, and a dozen varieties of tea, and four kinds of scones, and chocolate, and meringues, and chicken salad sandwiches. The Tea was something of a zoo, and we kept on running out of tea in individual tea pots which needed replenishing and refilling constantly - which I kind of ended up doing, because there was only one other person there to deal with all of it and I couldn't very well abandon her to racing around like a lunatic trying to juggle all this herself - but the upshot of this was that I basically had very little chance to sit down and talk (as the Duchess with whom the tea was supposed to be held) to the visitors who came. To make matters even more confusing, the Tea was hijacked somewhat by an author who apparently had no less than THREE scheduled readings at Radcon - and one of them happened to coincide with the Tea. So she simply sat down and started reading to the table of tea-goers - which meant that conversation such as the previous teas had boasted was even less possible now, with someone sitting there with a book in her hands and reading from it to this relatively captive audience. I barely said two words to the people at this table which I'm kind of sorry about because it included several friends (as opposed to the second table, where I did not immediately recognise or put a name to any of the faces around it. Next year...we need minions. People to be responsible for the teapots. Because I want it to go back to being Tea WITH THE DUCHESS as opposed to a nice afternoon tea with scones and cupcakes where people come and go without ever having even MET the Duchess in question.
But it was fun. And they were damned good cupcakes. And the tea selection and presentation was fabulous, as always. And, well, it was POPULAR. Which is always to the good.
After that, we had dinner with one set of people, we had drinks and chat with a whole other set of people, and then my back started to hurt again and so we kind of wandered around briefly for a little while before we meandered off to bed.
Sunday, two panels. One was a panel on Formidable Women, with a number of women (myself, MJ Engh, Patty Briggs, C J Cherryh and the late addition of Jane Fancher) bookended by jaylake and davidlevine. Needless to say, we lost control of the panel fairly early - but it was still a great deal of fun, nonetheless, and a few salient points DID get made along the way. After that, the final panel of the day and the con was "To Outline or Not To Outline" - and it produced the usual San Andreas faultline of people who Do and people who Don't and both swear by it - and reached the usual conclusions of, there is no one true way, do what is best for YOU. Then we had lunch (and a young lady who served us in the restaurant who seemed rather hazy on the idea of "garlic toast" which was supposed to come with our meal, to the point that we wound up taking the garlic toast, when it eventually did arrive, away with us as a take-away in a dinky polystyrene box. Made for a nice snack on the road back, anyway.
And then it was back into the vanlet with Entwife Judy, and back across the pass, and then we were home.
And the cats were very pleased to see us.
And I've got more new projects to start on, now, from various conversations at the con.
Back to work.
Well, that was Radcon 2011.
See you all next year.