The Incredible Shrinking Horror Panel, and Other Tales from NASFiC/Detcon1 (Part 1)

How’s this for an omen?  I just got home tonight, Sunday, and on the steps leading up from the sidewalk there lay a dead bird.  Then when I got to the front porch there was evidence the cat sitter had not come that day, not entirely unexpected in that she had said she might have travel problems that day.  But there was the answer:  combined the signs indicated that the resident cave cat, Wednesday, was hungry.  This was augmented by the fact she was waiting for me just inside the front door.

 So that mystery was solved, but there had been other strangenesses dogging my trip to NASFiC.  One was the trip itself, in that, it turns out, the easiest was to get from Indianapolis to Detroit by air, a distance normally of less than 300 miles, is via Atlanta.  So after some research, I decided to travel the way of our pioneer ancestors — and much more cheaply — by Greyhound bus.  And of this, some observations, the first being that the true adventure of such trips is discovering how to get to and from the Greyhound terminals, often to be found in arcane locations in the eerier parts of a city, although in Detroit as it turned out (in fact, it was this initial discovery that suggested traveling this way in the first place) still within longish walking distance of the convention hotel (with my hotel within easier distance of the con but yet farther on, on the other side of the renovated new business district and once more in one of the eerier districts, one in which at some point after midnight the hotel staff puts up bulletproof glass in front of  the front desk, with a little slot to shove credit cards through and receive your key*, but the cost was less than half of even the discounted rate at the con hotel).  Indianapolis was more complex, one still having to first take an airport bus to that city, but then transfer to a city bus to get downtown, then walk six or seven blocks through a progressively seedier cityscape to an ancient, decaying combined Greyhound/Amtrack station.  A travel tip:  when boarding the bus it’s considered appropriate among experienced long-distance bus travelers to spread your hand luggage across the seat next to yours to discourage potential seatmates.  And, even if listed on the timetable, assume that scheduled “rest stops” may not be (the bus will sometimes run a tad late and this is a way to make up time) so pack a lunch.

The convention hotel was a marvel also in a silly sort of way, but able to be gotten around in once one got used to it.  Imagine a stack of 70-some donuts, arranged in a square with three other stacks and a fifth stack placed in the square’s center.  One of these corners is your hotel though, within the comimagesplex, it’s not always clear which.  But once you are in the right stack, and have mastered the locations of escalators vs. elevators (both “high” and “low” and with special lobby elevators that only go between levels 1 and 3 — we speak not of  “floors” in the meeting room section), it’s best to think of room locations in terms of how far they are “around the donut,” with function rooms on the third and fifth donuts and a good, if not perfect, ConSuite open continuously on the 69th (a Con Committee member explains:  it’s a matter of corkage, that food isn’t allowed in function rooms unless it’s catered — one exception, coffee and tea could be had in the Green Room, though maybe I’m not supposed to say this** — but in the top-floor hotel suites there’s nothing wrong with having a 24-hour private party with approximately 1300 invited guests).

Also it may be well to remember that in this particular part of the world, to go to Canada one goes south.

But meanwhile it’s late here, the cat is still lonely, my last “meal” was on the bus, and there’s a Godzilla movie starting on TV that I haven’t seen yet (GODZILLA VS. DESTROYER, 1995, with Takuro Tatsami and Yoko Ishmo), so more tomorrow.



*A running joke was my explaining I had to leave parties early because I wanted to get to my hotel before the drug dealers came out.

**And so, yes, the scheduled “Kaffeeklatsches” were coffeeless, but I imported mine down from the Green Room (one-eighth around the donut to the main elevators — used this time instead of the preferred escalators on function levels for fear of sloshing — then two levels down half way farther around and to the level 3 hotel lobby, turn left then right then left again, and look for table 2).  But then no-one came anyway, which was not an unusual thing (I’d been to the information desk and seen the sign-up sheets — those with good tallies tended to be locals, or people at least with many attending friends***, or very well known “stars” — so, for official statistical purposes (as “moderator” I had to note attendance) I put down “3” including (1) the slow mover from the previous Kaffeeklatsch who was still sitting for a few seconds after my time started, (2) the person who stopped by to say hello about half way through but was in a hurry and couldn’t stay, and (3) me.

***An ex-girlfriend of mine was listed as an attendee so I had planned to at least buttonhole her and her present husband, but as it turns out I don’t believe they actually made it to the convention.


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