It was nice to actually spend time in physical proximity of smart, interesting people, even though my own weekend had some definite down sides. (As of this evening, my hand seems to be a lot better, by the way. I played the guitar for 30 seconds or so as I was unpacking, and I was able to hit a G chord firmly enough to sound cleanly without pain.
I left work only a few minutes later than planned. I had to make a quick detour by the Goodyear store because my right front tire -- which unless I'm confused is the same one that I had trouble with earlier -- was low, but it only took a couple of minutes. birder2 and I were actually rolling by a few minutes after 1. Traffic was no worse than expected, and we made it to the hotel about 4. I was unfortunately unable to get a reasonably-located room; I was on the 9th floor, which is out of reach for walking up the stairs at my present level of fitness. I managed to secure the services of a luggage cart, which I needed, along with a bellman which I didn't, but this is the sort of hotel that won't let patrons just use luggage carts.
I went to check in and discovered that the con had no record of my having preregistered. I did not find any entry in my checkbook, and I don't have a clear memory of having done it, just a feeling that I thought I had. So, given that there's a reasonable probability that I was a dumbass, I went ahead and paid the dumbass tax. (The dumbass tax is the difference between the prereg and the at-the-door price, and it's quite high at Cap -- $40 prereg vs. $70 at the door.) Badge secured, I checked into the art show, which wasn't very full despite my late arrival. This was another form of dumbass tax, exacted in at-con time rather than in cash, because if I'd been organized ahead of time I wouldn't have had to fill out forms on paper and would have finished sooner. While I was hanging my pictures, my friend Art WINOLJ found me, and steered me in the general direction of a plan for dinner, which crystallized into actually heading out to a nearby Thai restaurant in a small strip mall at Euclid and Plum Grove a few minutes later than we should have left. The place was small and understaffed and didn't pick up on my expressing concern that we were in a hurry. We had very nice food, but didn't make up the 15 minutes by which we'd left left the hotel later than was prudent. This meant that we went straight from the car into the Lois Bujold reading and still missed the beginning. The Sharing Knife: Legacy appears to still be as engaging as Beguilement was. I am not, however, in such a desperate hurry to catch the rest of the book that I tried to bid on any of the galley proofs that were in the charity auction.
Lois' reading was followed by a concert from Fan GoH Cat Faber. It was all new stuff, or at least stuff that I don't remember hearing before, and it's a little harder to get into songs when you're hearing them for the first time. But Cat's lyrics are always well-crafted and worth paying attention to. She had a (rabble-) rousing number about a new Underground Railroad to get women to states where abortion is legal (in a hypothetical future after the overturn of Roe v. Wade). The comparison to slavery would probably piss off a lot of African-American activists, but I found it compelling. This was followed by a concert from Peter Beagle, which was largely a re-run of his concert from last year, but still quite enjoyable. And I still need to learn "The Ballad of Mary Reed". This segued into open filk, which somehow got set up in a far too small circle (even though it was in a huge room) while I was fetching my guitar. I set up in the second row because all the chairs in the first row appeared to have been claimed, which made me feel less a part of the action and made it harder to get in when I wanted to. I read "The Barrel-Organ", after specifically introducing it as a memorial to Dave, which seemed to go OK. I also read cadhla's story/poem "Chambray", and got a couple of songs in, but I was tired and gave up fairly early.
Saturday got started on the wrong foot when I woke up about 8 AM with my mind going in circles at 90 MPH. I didn't get back to sleep for a couple of hours, then when I did get back to sleep, my cell phone rang with a wrong number, and when I finally decided I should get up and see some of the con at 12:30, I felt like last night's death that had been left on the steam table overnight. And on top of that, my left hand was wonky. I can't clearly recall how it had been at 8, but when I really got up, it was kind of numb and felt kind of puffy, and I couldn't form a proper fist. This was the big problem of my con. It slowly got better during the day, but by the evening, I still couldn't close my hand completely and strongly enough to play a G chord.
Once I dragged myself out of bed, I took a shower, had breakfast from food I'd brought, looked at the art show, where I didn't see much that was new, looked through the huckster room, where I didn't see much that really caught my fancy, and went back up to my room and had a sandwich. By this time it was halfway through Moonwulf's set in the Internet Cafe (a last minute substitution for catalana who I heard had trouble with her voice), and spent an hour and a half in the GT suite, where I got to meet phuphuphnik in the flesh (and hear him talk about how he's building a cyclotron in his basement) and chat with smart people. Then I went down to the Internet Cafe and listened to Jen Midkiff's set and borrowed beige_alert's 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. It seems like a nice lens. It focuses out to infinity, so it's more generally useful than a dedicated macro lens. But it's still limited enough that I'm not going to run right out and buy one. Even if money weren't an issue, one can only carry so many lenses, and I doubt that this would make the cut given the pictures I mostly want to take. I had had the notion that I would go to catalana's Renaissance Dance workshop, but as I was wrestling with the question of whether I had enough energy to participate, I learned that the schedule had been changed at the last minute and it had started early, which meant that I had already missed the beginning of the instruction, and I need to start at the beginning. So I just stayed for min0taur and Sally's set, which was certainly worth hearing. Then we went to the hotel restaurant for the dinner buffet, which was almost a repeat of the night before in terms of not enough time and organization. We got seated reasonably well, the food was decent, I ate more than I should, and at 6:40 we started looking ready for the bill, and at 6:50 we went and stood at the cash register demanding the bill, and when we still didn't have it at 6:59, I demanded to know just how much it would cost, threw down that amount rounded up to the next dollar in exact change, and stormed out.
I was again late for Lois' reading, but it didn't start on time, so I caught all of it. It was cool. Then I had a couple of hours to kill. I spent 20 minutes or so of that time watching the magician who was set up in the hallway near the consuite. I'm not exactly a magic afficianado, but I think I can say that this guy was good. His patter was beautiful, smooth, funny, and engaging. He was doing simple sleight of hand -- mostly cups and balls -- and while some of the time I could tell what he was doing (although I only actually saw him slip the ball in a couple of times), other times he quite effectively left me going "duh, how could he possibly have done that?" Unfortunately, all he had on his name badge was "The Wizard of Chicago" and I didn't catch his name. (This was not mstrhypno, just to be clear.) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was in the film room, and I wanted to see some of it -- at least to see how Aslan looked for myself. I ended up watching about an hour of it, and it left me wondering how much I just don't remember the book and how much they changed the story, because the story seemed to clash with my memory. It's been a very long time since I read it, though. Some of the visuals worked well for me and some of them bothered me. The animals looked and moved very well, but the way their faces looked when they talked seemed jarringly artificial. To my mind, they were neglecting to consider that the animals have fur, and were distorting their faces with the speech in accordance with the most than a human's bare skin would move around in speech; on furry animals, it not only looked unnatural, it looked suspension-of-disbelief-wrecking exaggerated. A poignant note was that the dead Aslan on the Stone Table looked very realistic -- since I'd just seen a dead lion up close last weekend. I also found it painful that not only were all the wolves on the wrong side in the big battle, the tigers were too. (I do remember that the witch had wolves working for her, so at least some of the blame does lie with C. S. Lewis for perpetuating the wolves as evil stereotype. I don't remember tigers at all. But if you're going to ask me to believe in talking tigers, I want to believe in talking tigers that are nice people, not evil.)
And then I went up to my room, took out the guitar, and determined that I couldn't play it (which I hadn't been sure of until then). I went down to the filkroom with just my book (which was a lot more portable), and unfortunately without taking my Sudafed, even though I'd meant to take it when I was in the room. Wild Mercy gave us a kick-ass concert (and water is wet), and one unexpected bonus came in the middle of that concert: I was fiddling with the stuck auto/manual focus switch on my 75-300mm lens, and (a) managed to get it unstuck, and (b) figured out that the problem was that it had gotten something sweet and sticky on it, which I was somewhat able to mitigate. So I got a few more pictures of the band, and I have a fully, or at least 95%, functional lens again. The fact that the circle was fairly big and mostly not tending to go in the direction I was feeling like following combined with the headache I was suffering and the knowledge that the hotel checkout time was 11 to send me to bed early. The only thing I did Saturday night was "Quad Drill", which I appear to have almost-memorized at that stage where when I'm reading it from the paper I feel like I don't need the paper, but as soon as I look away I fumble the words.
Sunday I got up at 9 so I could shower, dress, eat breakfast, pack, and call the front desk and ask for a cart enough before 11 that I thought I might actually get out of the room on time, and in this I was successful. The bellman actually brought the cart around at about 10:50. I got my stuff in the car, then (after stopping to chat with most of Wild Mercy in the front lobby, and separately saying good-bye to tollers (where I told her how I'd had the chorus of Hey Ho stuck in my head from the concert last night, only this morning it insisted on wanting to come out as "merchant kings of Rock and Roll" instead of "war and woe", which makes so much sense I fear it may have to be written) I got to the art show, where I learned that I'd only sold one piece. $20 in sales, less 10% commission, minus $10 in hanging fees for the 10 pieces I showed, means I got $8 for all the trouble of bringing the stuff to the show. I think I've tapped out the market for the images I already have at the cons I currently show at, so I'd either better get off my butt and get more images into salable form, get off my butt in another way and get my stuff to other markets, or quit pretending to be an artist. But at least I don't actually need the money now, so it wasn't as painful as it would have been last year. I paid for a couple of books at Larry's table, collected my plants that almeda provided, and we got ready to go. We were going to try to hit the Thai place again for lunch, but it was not open for lunch on Sunday, so we just hit the road for home.
It was good to be there, but pretty low key, and it seemed to be over awful fast. I'm thinking that it may be worth the cost of the extra day just to be able to get a room on a floor I can walk to. The addition of the water park to the hotel makes it rather less desirable as a con hotel in my view (there seemed to be a lot more mundanes actually around in the hotel than usual, and the function space was not as nice). But I'd still say it's an acceptable hotel (even with their <expletive deleted> non-negotiable, non-standard, non-reasonable, I-bitch-about-it-every-year 11 AM checkout time), and there are too few of those in Chicagoland.
And I went ahead and pre-reged for next year. No dumbass tax next year, and there's a rumor that even the pre-reg price might go up.