Day One (Thursday):
My con actually started Wednesday morning, when mistahbojangles arrived at oh-dark-thirty to drop of his car for his flight out of Dulles. But the reality of it began Thursday morning with my own flight. JetBlue, I think, just isn't gonna do it for me any more. I still fold up fairly small, but my tolerance for staying folded up for five hours just isn't what it used to be. Unfortunately, that means a much more expensive flight in the future... more on which, see "Conclusions."
My actual arrival in California is largely a sleep-depped blur; I remember that the Long Beach terminal was no longer a bunch of trailers lashed together with the inner walls knocked out, but had instead been changed to a bunch of separate trailers with walkways. mammallamadevil picked me up at Oakland with her usual grace and good cheer and schlepped me off to Chevy's to put some real food in me, and then to the Hilton (or as it soon came to be known, the Dark Tower) where I could drop off my junk, then go register for the con and learn the lay of the land.
Day Two (Friday): So. Much. Pony.
The Furry Marketplace had a bit of a rough start: due to a snafu at the Marriott, there were no tables until about ten minutes before the Marketplace opened, and no chairs for about half an hour past that-- which, as you might imagine, made it a little difficult to set up. While the con staff flailed around diligently trying to cope with this kerfluffle, I wandered into the dealer room to see what was what. It turned out that what was what, was ponies. Tons and tons of ponies. chipuni even greeted me by hugging my #twitterpony character by proxy (i.e., hugging me and asking me to pass it on to the pony).
Let me just say here: I love me some ponehs. But... dang. O.o The pony stuff ranged from the Very Cool (such as the parasprite button frostdemn gave me) to the Facehoof-Inducing (go away, Rule 34). But I would say at least half of the artists there (yes, including myself) were offering up their goods for the Pony Frenzy. On Friday all but one of the art pieces requested of me were Pony-related ("Draw my OC pony?" "Draw anthro-Twilight Sparkle as a magus from Pathfinder?" etc.) This eventually eased up as the con went on and people remembered that there was a furry fandom before the Ponies arrived. ;)
My neighbor at the table, BrokenPuppet, was very cool, although I was a bit amused that she also had "Buttons of Charisma". I guess it's just one of those ideas!
Friday night was characterized by the Search For a Decent Art-Jam Space. FC has long had the peculiar habit of shoving the "Creator's Loungue" into the most cramped, uncomfortable, unusable space they can find, and this year's was the worst yet. Back in the days of the DoubleTree, this wasn't a problem: all the artists would just go to the bar in the lobby of the hotel and do their art-jamming there. In the Fairmont, we gave it the old college try in the bar there and it worked, but not well.
This time, there was just nowhere. The only congregation spaces to be found were either darker than dark, had no tables, or both. Vince and I spent probably an hour looking for a good place to hang out and artify, eventually ending up with just us and graveyardgreg way off in the lobby of the closed Peet's Coffee, as the only place we could find that had both tables and light.
It turned out that the exact same tables being used for the Furry Marketplace were the closest thing the con had to a Zoo, but we didn't discover that until it was too late for it to be any use on Friday.
Day Three (Saturday): The Volleyball Girls Arrive
All weekend, there was some variety of Girls' Volleyball tourney going on the the convention center, attached to which were several picnic tents outside. There was some mixing of the events, as volleyball girls would wander through the furry con or furries would wander through the volleyball tournament, but it all seemed quite amicable.
Saleswise, Saturday was slow, which was a little disheartening. I really need to improve my table display with more art and pizzazz, 'cause just depending on the book cover art to "sell me" just doesn't cut it. I also had people asking for prints of "Pony v. Dalek" ... I guess I should try to have some of those for AC. :D
Saturday night was the annual pilgrimage to Andy's BBQ ("Let us praise it with great praise!"). sirfox brought around Sam and Efrain, confusedoo and lowen_kind, joined us, and mammallamadevil was the hostess. Much beef was enthusiastically nommed and conversations ran from yarn-shopping indulgence to swapping macho gun-range tales. Having nothing particular to contribute to either topic, I simply ate beef and listened.
This was followed up by an attempted art jam in the closed Furry Marketplace tables with invisiblewolf, Derrick Dasenbrock, athelind and Rafferty, as well as various folks who came and went. It was enjoyable and I did get my homework done, but it still lacked the vitality it would have had in a larger and more-central location. But at that stage, I was glad to get whatever I could get.
Day Four (Sunday): Hello, I Must Be Going
Sunday morning, jet lag was starting to become a factor. I dragged myself out of bed and the lot of us went over to the pastry shop near the Fairmont to have a break from Peet's. Business was a bit brisker in the early part of the day, as people had made all of their "big purchases" and were now going through and picking up whatever appealed to them with the remainder of their budgets, but eventually even that slowed to a trickle. I broke down my table early so I could do a little shopping in the dealer room, grab some food, and get back in time for the My Little Pony panel. They showed the new episode, which was enjoyable of course (Pinkie Pie babysitting = horror movie! I dig it.), as well as several pony AMVs. As with the realization of just how much pony stuff there was on Friday, I enjoyed it, but I don't think I could stand a con that was nothing but pony. I like variety too much!
Unfortunately, I had to bail out of that to rush back to my room, pack, and get to the airport in time. I had a very nice visit with mammallamadevil in the SFO terminal (and a burger that was waaay too good and affordable for airport concessions to be selling, what was up with that?), and then a wretched flight home, le sigh! Fortunately, laurie_robey was there at Dulles to pick me up and bring me home, at which point I crashed like a Windows ME machine.
My next con will be AnthroCon in June. I am considering giving a miss to Dragon*Con this year, but going to Midwest Furfest, which I haven't been to for some time. It depends on how Arclight Adventures takes off, as well as all sorts of other factors, of course. I expect to do InterventionCon again too, just because the expenses of that one are so negiligible.
So... how was YOUR weekend? :)