For those of you who don't know, this last weekend was the Convergence convention, which is a mainstay of my life. Not nearly as much as some others, but a goodly chunk of time that I spend each year is taken up with convention-oriented antics.
Wednesday night was spent finishing up the last bits of the Project from Hell electronics and programming, final burning the CDs and whatnot, and packaging everything together for easy shipping.
I took Thursday off of work, because of the convention prep work that had to happen. First of all, we had to take the pooch over to Dog Camp for the weekend. It's something of a drive, but well worth it. Also, Barb was the guest liason for Andrew Probert, and she had to pick him up at the airport. This meant that I was Mr. last-minute-detail-paint guy for the Project from Hell. Aside from two pieces that were still under construction (!), I laid down the base coat.
Painting styrofoam is a unique art, and we've found some fun shortcuts. The Wagner Power Painter works well with large quantities of paint, and we went through a quart of latex. Of course, the WPP is also a pain in the ass to clean, and once in a while it jams up solid and requires a major disassembly. Such was Thurdsay evening, which took a 90-minute chunk of time.
Barb came home, and we booted out to the Radisson South.
We met up with Roadkill at the mainstage entrance lobby. The Gravediggers had indeed done their work, and all of the PFH pieces were there, and there were a lot of them. After some wrangling, we started to put it together with the help of several folks (special thanks to geohard who came in very handy). We did end up having to move the concession tables and some other things, but that's a long story in itself.
Four hours later, we had in place the Guardian of Forever.
Yes indeed, we had taken on the task of recreating the freaking GoF from the Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever".
We had an audience. Several people were already at the hotel, mostly those folks who were working the con and had to be there to set up early. Final screws in place, I plugged in the electronics, fired up the CD player, and pushed the button.
And there was sound.
But no lights.
The lighting controller wasn't working.
Okay, bear in mind that this was the first time that the entire thing had been together. I had tested the hell out of the electronics, and designed the thing for heavy-duty use. We had tested the lights before we put the final plastic on. The damn thing wasn't working.
I took the cover off the electronics, and sure enough I wasn't getting power.
We had used fluorescent lights inside the Guardian because of heat issues. We originally designed for 20 lights at 13 watts each, but added 12 more at the last minute. 32 lights at 13 watts each comes out to 416 watts, or about 3.5 amps. But when you very first turn on the lamp, there is this little thing called surge current that for a very brief period is quite high.
Long story short, I blew a fuse.
When that was fixed, we plugged in and turned on, and the guardian lit up like a rocket. Applause and cheering from the audience ensued, and there were many high-fives and geek dancing.
It freaking worked.
On to a late-night dinner at Perkins, and to a well-deserved exhausted sleep.
First official day of the convention. We slept late for some strange reason, and had to finish up the detail painting on the remaining guardian pieces (column and rock set designed to hide the electronics package). We finally got there around noon and set up the beast, happily working.
After checking in and getting everything put away, I met up with Barb, Chris, and Andrew Probert and his son for lunch. It was nice and fun, entertaining and yummy.
On to my first panel, "You Too Can Make a Movie", where we had the first public showing of PFD:Hunter. It went reasonably well, even though the movie desperately needs postproduction, and I was reminded that we indeed have some good stuff there.
The rest of Friday is something of a blur. Went to one of Andrew's panels on storyboarding, which all the more made me want to sit down with him and discuss visual theory for hours. I am such a geek.
Mark Time radio awards and the Mark Time Radio Show were a lot of fun. David Ossman of Firesign Theater was here once again, and the show was quite entertaining. And I managed to introduce him to Tony, which made Tony very very happy. If I may mention that Dave Ossman is a very class act, very personable and friendly and a joy to talk to, and I've chatted with him sevsral times. Excellent guy.
And there was some partying and exploration of skimpy costumes (Thanks Giselle!), and a tiny bit of hot-tub time. Unfortunately, some clueless hotel lackey kicked us out of the hot tub at 11:00 instead of the 2:00 that we were supposed to get. But that did leave a little more time to explore room parties (I did get a little overloaded, and I ducked into one room party to cool down a bit. Turned out to be Theater Apocalypse, and they had just started a showing of "Dog Soldiers", which I highly enjoyed. Recommended), and when exhaustion finally set in, I did sleep the sleep of the sleepy. Well, after a little bit of foolin' around time. :)
Holy Crap! There's a convention on Saturday too!
Normally, I am tied up Saturday with Masquerade. Happily, this year I was freed to explore the convention, and actually was able to attend some panels, see some movies, and just generally enjoy the festivities. I went in with no plans, and just wandered, and had a damn fine time. And I left the Dealer's room after spending less than $100, which I believe is a record. I also got to attend the art show for the first time, and bid on a piece (and yes, I won), which was nice.
We also managed to get interviewed by the Trekkies 2 crew, and with Roadkill as our spokesman, it's highly likely that we'll be in the movie. If I show up at all, it'll be a brief shot, and I'm not counting on it, but the Guardian is probably a shoo-in.
Dinner at TGI Fridays, managed to run into cajones and chebutykin and had a nice dinner, which was only slightly interrupted by some of the Soylent Theater gang. And verily it was good. I made it back to the hotel just in time to completely miss mainstage seating for Masquerade, which ended up being a good thing, as I ran into friends at the front table for the lobby video projection of Masquerade. And it was even better than the regular audience seats. Yes.
And then the parties started.
And oh, the ladies.
Some women (and some guys too) find that the convention is a place to wear... shall we say "revealing" attire. Not that I am complaining about that. In fact, quite the opposite. I am rather joyful about finding rather attractive and somewhat flirtatious women at the convention, but this year there seemed to be more of them. And I was treated to some rather executive-level flirting at one point, which was greatly appreciated. And in the right-place-at-the-right-time department, I managed to get several rather nice ass-flashes from some ladies wearing skimpy thongs, as well as a couple who were not. I think I may be smiling for a week.
Have I mentioned that Saturday night parties tend to be rather fun?
I did spend a bit of time at Cthulhu Coffee. chebutykin borrowed some undead, and I had to see how they were taken by the masses. I ended up spending time doing a play-doh sculpture of someone having their brain sucked by a crawling critter. Fun!
And some more hot-tub time. Stayed in until 11:30, when I decided to catch the midnight showing of "Donnie Darko" at Cinema Rex. Yet another very cool movie, again a recommend.
Collapsed into a little puddle around 2:30, and flowed off to bed.
Final day of the convention. Barb had to do an early thing with Andrew, so I slept in. Packed up the hotel room and was on the way out the door just in time for Barb to come back with her room key, and put stuff in the truck. Possibly the smoothest checkout I've experienced.
Unfortunately, the Shriners were moving in as we were moving out, which made for early vacating of the poolside cabanas (no more room parties!) and messy elevator-stressing things, as well as badging annoyances ("I'm sorry sir, this area requires you to have a convention badge" "No, I'm just looking").
Managed to make it for the Cowboy Bebop movie at Theater Nippon. A little bit disappointed-- I like the series a lot, but I think I was expecting more from the movie. It's still good, but it's not a must-have for me.
Closing ceremonies, and a lot of fun with Michael Sheard, who is absolutely awesome. Final words from Tim Wick, and a quick run to the Guardian controller for the special final announcement of "Time has resumed its shape: all is as it once was" as people were walking out the door.
And at 7:00 came the Destruction of the Guardian.
Yes indeed, it had to go. Too big to fit anywhere, we scavenged all the lights and wiring, and tore the rest of it apart and tossed it in the dumpster. In one way, a fitting end to the Project from Hell, but in another way, kind of sad. But in truth, people liked it a lot, and it was worth all the bitching. And if I may say so, the having faith that it would all work out was a good choice. There were no complaints that I heard about, and several compliments, including one note that somebody left for us. And even Barb was happy. :)
After that, another trek to TGI Fridays where I met up with Rick and YetAnotherBabe, and had a nice relaxing dinner. Rick paces himself well, and only managed to bag two babes a day at the con. And that sounds cruder than it really is. Of course, part of me is jealous that he is getting so much action, but it is truly a selfish part of me. I am reasonably content with my flirty self, aside from the occasional horndog longings.
And then it was over.
Well, okay, not really. There was the Dead Dog party, which is basically where anyone who is staying can sit and relax. Cinema Rex stays open and continues showing stuff, Consuite stays open so there is some food, and there is a lot of sitting-around-and-talking. Michael Sheard was passing out peanut butter cups and generally being gregarious-- have I mentioned how very cool he is?-- and there was ordering of pizza and much baked goodness. And Cinema Rex showed some very cool stuff, as well as a group of locally-produced short films (including ours, which was great except for the VHS copy which sucked). And then it was somehow 2:30, and we went home.
Barb had to get up early to take Andrew to the Mall of America and then attend lunch, so it was left to me to unload the car, which had me in bed somewhere around 4:00.
I missed out on the farewell lunch, which was sad but necessary, as I would have otherwise been sleeping in my Jucy Lucy. Barb came home and woke me up, and we went to comfy-lunch at Currans where we started talking about next year's projects. Yes, we actually started thinking about doing it again, and even more. Ack!
From dinner, we made a quick run to the hotel to get Barb's car, then up to see "28 Days Later", which is yet another marvelous film, possibly the most intelligent film that I've seen in years, and gets a recommended. Much do I want to see technical info on this movie. Barb says it's the second-best zombie movie she's ever seen (NOLD being the first).
After the movie was picking up the pooch from Dog Camp. Since she hadn't seen us for days, she was absolutely neurotic and excited, and there was much petting and cuddling and pay-attention-to-me happening, which was a really nice way to end the day.
All in all, I had a damn fine time. Convergence is an extremely well-run convention with a lot of good people. Hopefully I can bring more fun stuff next year, and maybe a surprise or two.
And today, it's back to the mundane world of work.
I still need a massage. :)