As I mentioned in the previous day's report, I am confident that I am going to forget important people and events. Accept my apologies in advance for being such a mean, heartless dick…now on with the story…
Friday morning started with a bomb scare.
A phone call at entirely-too-early-in-the-morning interrupted my tooth-brushing regimen with an inquiry from the head of housekeeping as to what the “big, metal, bomb-like things” were in the side rooms. My explanation that they were liquid nitrogen did little to assuage their fears: it seems that the word “nitrogen” has a certain anus-clenching property that is little comforted by assurances that things wouldn't go all kaboomy.
The hotel requested that we make the LN2 available for a fire marshall inspection, so Dan and his crew moved it downstairs to the loading dock to ease the process. As it turns out, giving the tanks an evening to warm up then changing their altitude by 4 floors makes for a lengthy off-gassing process. For several hours the lower pressure tank vented a slow, loud plume of cold nitrogen. I know that it went on for hours because I would get periodic updates from the hotel in the form of, “Jer, the tank is still hissing, should we be concerned?” and “Jer, should we wear any sort of mask or breathing apparatus back there?”
I suppressed my natural urge to fuck with everyone by inspecting the tank, hurriedly running away, then collapsing in a heap. Sometimes, being a responsible adult is almost not worth the effort.
Ultimately, the tank stopped hissing, we got the blessing of the fire marshall (with huge thanks to Anna for pulling down photos of the tanks in use so that we could show that our intended use is rational [and non kaboomy]) and migrated them back upstairs in time for Phil and Sarah (and another person whose name escapes me) to make with the ice creamy goodness.
The main part of the setup day went relatively uneventfully. A few minor hiccups involved in the setup and a couple of on-the-fly changes sprung up, but at this point, most of the team was pretty used to that and handled themselves professionally. I think, to the best of my knowledge, everything opened on time. The network came up later than planned, but still well before the start of the convention. Ossy, Boots, and Nick really did a great job of getting things ready, and I really appreciate the hotel's IT and engineering staff (especially Gabe and Dave) jumping through hoops to get things done.
Opening ceremonies was very entertaining. Our conchair (yes, we did too have one) Chuck Child had an actual prepared speech—possibly the first since Matt Arnold's year as chair—and managed to introduce us all to Penguicon in exactly the right way, thank all of the right people, and introduce all of the right honored guests (which seems like it should be a given, but…well…let's just say we've seen that go very, very poorly in the past). Some highlights of the opening ceremonies, for me:
- John Scalzi playing Prince's “Kiss” on the ukelele. Seriously, I don't care who you are or what you are planning to do on a stage, you will never out-cool a man saying “I was paid a dollar to do this song” then calmly knocking out the Prince classic as though it were no more out of the ordinary than saying “I'm honored to be here.”Mad Hatter charged over to John's seat and got his breast signed…exactly like one must when a Prince song is performed. So moved by his performance, was I, that I removed my pants and hurled them onstage like a tarpaulin-sized version of a groupie's bra. Of course, the moment they left my hands, I was texted that the hotel management was looking for me; confronted with the choice, I opted to run onto the stage in my boxer-briefs and meet the hotel clothed rather than the alternative.
- Scrub Club Records winning the award for “Best Celebratory Introduction.” When they were introduced, Mad Hatter, King Pheenix, and the gang all jumped up and started cheering and celebrating their way to the microphone as if they had just won a Grammy, replete with acceptance speeches and King Pheenix's best “cocky douche” impression. I'd have sworn Lars Ulrich was up there! (It should be noted that Pheenix's act was especially amusing as each of the Scrub Club guys are really great, unassuming, and highly intelligent people. Some of my favorite guests of honor ever, actually!)
- I'm given the opportunity to eat a bag of dicks. As I'm walking away from the stage so that the ceremonies can start, the audience collectively drew my attention back from my phone to the Acme delivery at the foot of the stage. Orvan the Ox had me sign for a box containing a confusing selection of beads and penis-shaped candies. When I expressed my puzzlement, Christine stood and declared that, on behalf of the entire Ops staff, “Jer, now YOU can be the one to eat a bag of dicks.” She got the ovation she deserved…masterfully played!
- Mad Hatter proves to be among the geekiest of us all by turning to Chuck after Scrub Club was introduced and saying “thank you Joseph Michael Linsner!” I had to look it up, but the resemblance is uncanny!!
The roast of the previous year's conchair was relegated to an almost entirely inappropriate room for the show. Something to remember for next year, we need to be in a room with a stage of some sort, a dais would be nice, and some distance between me and the audience for when I apparently shit my pants mid-panel. Seriously, I let go a stench so foul that it literally cleared three rows of my side of the room. It was heinous.
The roast was very good, although true to form, I had done absolutely no writing at all, so everything was done pretty extemporaneously on-the-fly. I am not nearly enough of an improviser to do that, so, my part sucked, but everyone else did fantastically. As always, I'm really grateful to Dawn for putting that together…next year's roast should be interesting, though…this year's conchair drama should lend itself well to some tear-inducing and not-entirely-comedic material.
Immediately following the roast was the Flirting for Geeks panel which, I must confess, I didn't even know I was on. I had to sprint from the room several times to deal with moderate hotel glitches, to include at least one noise complaint called in by a member of my extended family.
Go ahead, read that last one back…not only did they call in a noise complaint, but they called it in on the consuite. At 1030pm. On Friday. And dropped my name.
I told to hotel to put them out on the street—since they weren't streeted, I'm assuming that the hotel found a different manner of handling things.
In the months leading up to this con, we have heard so many rumors floating around about the party scene (mostly started at a different convention at the Hyatt that shall remain nameless): no parties are allowed after 10pm, all noise must be shut down at midnight, no alcohol will be allowed at parties, etc. I hope that the hotel security's performance on Friday and Saturday night has put that shit to bed in a big way.
We had a total of 6 noise complaints called in on Friday night. Of those, one was from the aforementioned family member, two were from a person that wasn't with the convention that was mistakenly placed on the party floor, two were because we were being so loud in the consuite that the noise was bleeding all the way to the quiet block, and one was a result of people camping in the hallways being loud. Once we had established a protocol for handling these things, hotel security did a brilliant job of ensuring that everyone was happy. Felix, the head of security, deserves a big, shiny medal.
Both Nuri and I handled a couple of issues here and there for the rest of the evening (mostly related to our drunk guests making nuisances of themselves, but precious few even of those), but overall, the night was quiet…a sharp counterpoint to a considerably more eventful Saturday night.
The day of really interesting drama (to include the mystery of the poisoned meat) is Saturday…coming soon, to a browser near you.