That’s MISTER mad scientist to you

This ought to be my fourth day at the con report. Except we were barely at the convention at all today. We slept in a bit. We packed out the room. We met some friends for breakfast. We walked around the dealers’ room one more time (and picked up one thing). And then we headed home.

This was my 25th NorWesCon—in a row. Obviously I enjoy going to this convention, and I enjoyed myself this year. This was one of the years where I attended almost no actual convention activities, so all of my enjoyment was due to time spent with friends also attending the convention and all the writing I got done at the con.

For a number of years I have purchased my membership to the next year’s convention before leaving the current con. And for the last several years I have made a point of choosing a new badge name for the next year’s con. Usually it is a spur of the moment choice while I have been standing in line. This year’s badge name was “That’s MISTER mad scientist to you,” with a conscious decision to use ‘mister’ rather than ‘doctor’ so I could go into a spiel about how everyone is so elitist, buying into the credential myth that only if one has completed a doctorate are they able to make a meaningful contribution to scientific villainy, et cetera.

Similarly, for some years now I have been reserving hotel space for the subsequent convention before leaving the current con. Given that a couple of times I failed to reserve a room before the hotel filled up, and buying a membership well in advance provided a discounted price, both of these habits seemed merely prudent measures.

Or, perhaps, they are signs of someone stuck in a rut.

I published an essay some time ago asserting the argument that repetition alone, no matter how long, is not sufficient proof of one’s being in a rut. Don’t believe me? When has anyone rational ever accused someone else of being in a breathing rut?

There are things I love about my annual Easter vacation:

  • someone else deals with things like making the bed, cooking meals, and cleaning dishes for a few days
  • hang out with some friends that I don’t see often enough the rest of the year
  • see lots of costumes and other cool things
  • buy things that I might not have found/have never seen anywhere else
  • encounter enough ideas of the fantastical and otherwise see things out of my ordinary day-to-day encounters to provide some of that vital inspiration needed to write
  • eat and drink things that I don’t normally
  • play fun/strange games such as Give Me The Brain with aforementioned friends I don’t see often enough

All good things. However, most of the items don’t actually require a sci-fi/fantasy/comics/what-have-you convention. It’s easier to get the friends together with the impetus of the con, but we could, if we really wanted, do it another way. Even those items that require a con, none of them require this particular convention. NorWesCon being the large, regional general interest sci-fi con means that it is the one easiest to get many of my friends to.

On the other hand, there are downsides:

  • it is a large convention which technically outgrew its venue years ago, which contributes to a number of less-than-ideal situations listed below
  • the hotel restaurants all have the same limited menu for the entire weekend
  • restaurants within walking distance are also limited
  • parking is a nightmare
  • the crowds in the halls are often annoying at best
  • a high percentage of the events I’d like to get to are in rooms that are too small to accomodate the numbers who want to attend, so I end up not seeing the few things I want to see
  • for a certain period of time (several years ago) the programming staff were actively and unapologetically hostile to anything related to anthropomorphics. Though they deny it now (and have always had a number of fur fans on the con committee), the kindest thing you could say would be that the con has a passive-aggressive attitude toward the sub-genre.
  • SakuraCon usually being the same weekend and many times larger means that all the anime-related dealers are elsewhere, and the con has dropped most, if not all, anime programming
  • a lot of the friends I wish could attend either can’t or for various reasons it is very inconvenient

Again, not all of those are unique to this convention.

For a few years various friends have been urging us to attend some other cons. Locally we’ve attended at least semi-regularly: Rain Furrest, SteamCon, and Foolscap (and a few others, but either only once, or long, long ago). My favorite out of town cons are Midwest Furfest and OryCon, which unfortunately are often at the same time. This year we’re attending Everfree NW. And we had planned to give the next RustyCon a try.

At the moment I’m leaning toward attending both RustyCon and NorWesCon next year, but if we enjoy the actual convention events at RustyCon more than I have the last few years at NorWesCon, we may drop NorWesCon.

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