Monthly Archives: June 2010

Anthrocon – Done.

So Anthrocon came and went last weekend.

I won’t be writing a full report because, honestly, it would be pretty boring. Also, Friday-Sunday would be repetitive: “Went to work in Artists Alley. Worked for 12-14 hours. Grabbed dinner. Went to bed.” And I want to stress, I’m not saying that working 12-14 hours every day was a badge of honor. Actually, it was pretty stupid. I didn’t have enough staff (as usual). I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the Alley during the day, even though I had excellent support from Rooth, my second in command. And I didn’t have the energy to really go anyplace else by the end of the weekend. All of that aside, though, the Alley was a huge success, processing over $63,000 for the artists over the course of the weekend (up from $55,000 last year).

Anyway, I do want to put together some bullet points about the convention:

  • Rooth is amazing. He put up with my stressing out, continued to be a quick study when it comes to all things technological, and was in general an excellent friend. I leave Artists Alley in his hands knowing it will not only continue to succeed, it will improve year after year. And the going-away gift of a 30-minute professional massage on Sunday was exactly what I needed.
  • The Artists Alley and Con Store staff: Baja, Delphi, Drittauge, Ford, Geemo, Shy Matsi, Stevie, Wag!, Anita (Giza’s Mom), and Gimpy Dave. You are the reason that Artists Alley and Con Store ran as well as it did, and I cannot begin to thank you enough. The work schedule was tough this year, and I know many people wound up working more hours than they would have liked. I am sure Rooth will make sure that doesn’t happen again next year. I am beyond gratified that so many of you plan to come back next year. I consider it a privilege to count you all as friends.
  • Dinner at The Sharp Edge was a mixed bag – Excellent friends, decent food, abominable service. In hindsight, I wish we’d chosen to go to Sonoma Grille on Sunday night instead, but the company more than made up for it.
  • Roho and Genet, and their roommates Tarin and Nyuni were great – even though they were not staff, they volunteered to help out with the Artists Alley lottery. More importantly, not only did Roho and Genet help carry some of our stuff to and from the con, they provided me with a much-needed oasis of sanity (and excellent beer) in their room. Thanks, guys!
  • And then there’s Takaza. It goes without saying that he was helpful and supportive, but this was on top of his own insanity running the Finance office. He was sweet enough to make sure I ate lunch each day and to look in on me during the day. All of this while working until 3:00 AM each night (and he still has a couple of days worth of work to do to get everything reconciled before July 15th).

After nine years of working Artists Alley, I leave Anthrocon with the same feeling I had when I turned over Registration at Midwest FurFest: It was a fascinating and enjoyable logistical problem that I would like to think that I and my team solved, and left things in a far better state than they were when I came in. It is definitely something I am done with, though, and have no desire to ever do again.

As I have mentioned, we will not be at Anthrocon next year. Instead, we will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of our commitment ceremony with a cruise to Alaska (want to join us? Here’s more information). Since I only have so much vacation, something has to give – that thing being Anthrocon. After next year? Hard to say. We’ve been talking about a trip to Europe, you see 🙂

And so Anthrocon is in the books for us. Now we can look ahead to the Midwest FurFest Summer Picnic in just a few weeks, a trip to Ann Arbor in August, and of course our trip to Montreal in September. Oh, and some convention or another in November. That will come with time, though…

And Now, The Downhill Slide

And welcome to Anthrocon OMG last minute countdown for takaza and me. I need to remember to check in for our flights just before leaving work today. We drop off Buddy at Dan’s mom’s place tonight, and finish up our last bit of packing after that. Tomorrow, we both work a half-day, then it’s off to Milwaukee for our 4 PM flight. We get into Pittsburgh at 6:30 PM, and should be at the Westin by 8 PM.

As for the rest of my time at Anthrocon, since everyone else is detailing their schedule:
Thursday
7 AM – 9 AM – Breakfast someplace. Maybe Deluca’s, or someplace on The Strip?
9 AM – 6 PM – Setup Artists Alley and Con Store in Hall B. Bored? Stop by! I can always use the help 🙂
6 PM – 9:30 PM – Dinner plans are hazy. I’m not sure what we’re doing, but we’ll figure it out along the way.
9:30 PM – 10:30 PM – Staff meeting

Friday – Sunday
These days are all pretty much the same. Get up early, work in Hall B until around 8 PM. Take short breaks. Hope I can find time for food.
Each night I hope to get together with friends and relax. I won’t be looking for big social functions, but nice, small, quiet gatherings.

Monday
After an uncomfortably late meeting, we’ll be flying out at 2:30 PM. I hope we make our flight.

It’s a good thing I took next Tuesday off to recuperate…oh wait, I didn’t because I don’t have enough vacation time. Crap. Ah well…

The Stanley Cup Comes to Chicago Pride!

This is a very cool bit of news. Thanks to the work of invncble, his hockey team, and the Chicago Gay Hockey Association, the Stanley Cup will be a part of the Chicago Pride Parade this weekend! Michael Sneed reports this in the today’s edition of the Chicago Sun Times.

The Stanley Cup . . .
Is the ultimate game of testosterone going to dispatch a Blackhawk with the Stanley Cup in tow to the Gay Pride Parade this weekend?
You betcha!

Sneed has learned Blackhawks President John McDonough is rerouting the Stanley Cup from the NHL draft in L.A. to the parade Sunday . . . and Blackhawk defenseman Brent Sopel has volunteered to represent the team.

“I am honored to do it,” said Sopel, who will be accompanied by wife, Kelly, and his four kids, Jacob, 12, Lyla, 8, Jayla, 6, and Paul, 20, whom they adopted three years ago after Paul’s parents died within six months of each other.
The rest of the article is here…

Where’s Your Head At?

Yep, we’re down to the pre-convention head-in-a-fog period where I post even less than I usually do. We’re trying to keep things moderately low-key as we lead up to Anthrocon, which is just seven days away (for us, anyway). That doesn’t mean we’re sitting in darkened rooms all by ourselves, though…

On Friday after work takaza and I had a bit of shopping to do in McHenry, then wandered around a bit through Bull Valley (my gosh, that’s a beautiful area!) before winding up in Woodstock. We had dinner at La Petite Creperie. We eschewed crepes for their more formal dinner menu which was…something of a mixed bag. I felt strongly enough that I wrote up a review on Yelp, giving them 2 out of 5 stars. We’d go back, but only for the crepes.

Saturday we worked around the house a bit, then drove up to Antioch to visit with roho and genet and linnaeus. It was a pleasant evening, nice and laid back (though clearly we hadn’t had enough mind-altering substances to fully appreciate “Sita Sings the Blues” 🙂 On Sunday was spent working on Anthrocon stuff and generally just puttering around the house. Not a bad thing at all!

This brings me to the specter hanging over our heads right now – Anthrocon. It was with a bit of astonishment that I realized last week that I’ve been working in the Artists Alley at Anthrocon for the last nine years, and been in charge of it for the last seven years. Dan started in the Alley with me, then graduated to write the at-convention newsletter, then to create and run the Finance Office. Nine years is a long time, and we have both reached the point where we are burned out and it just isn’t fun anymore. It’s an insane amount of work to run these departments, and I know that at least for me serving as chairman of Midwest FurFest was easy compared to the time spent preparing for and running Artists Alley.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve enjoyed my time managing Artists Alley. I have gotten to work with some really wonderful people, and as I wrap up my final year on Anthrocon staff I leave knowing that the Alley is in excellent hands. rooth, my second-in-command is taking over the position from me, and I have every confidence he will do an excellent job. We haven’t always agreed on philosophical matters, but that’s a good thing – it’s good to challenge and understand why we do what we do. He’s got a great head for logistics, and between us I think that we’ve created a pretty awesome purchasing system in the Alley. And I know he has a ton of new ideas that will be implemented over the next few years that will make the Alley even better.

As for us? We’ll be giving Anthrocon a miss next year, I’m afraid. We’re planning on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our commitment ceremony; I only have two weeks of vacation, and the cruise is going to consume a large chunk of that. We’ll still be active with Furry Connection North and Midwest FurFest, though, and the many and various smaller events throughout the year!

Good Food and Good Beer

Not too much to talk about here, thus the radio silence.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of having brunch with genet and linnaeus (takaza and roho were both under the weather) at Longman & Eagle in Logan Square. This qualified as being OMG SO GOOD, as I had two duck eggs sunny side up over a hash of Yukon gold potatoes and duck confit. They also do some very interested bourbon flights; I suspect we will be returning to investigate!

Afterward we walked a ways down Milwaukee Ave., checking out the neighborhood. We found Bucket o’ Blood, a newly-opened speculative-fiction used book store, and stumbled across Revolution Brewing an awesome brewpub. I had the Mad Cow Milk Stout, which was quite tasty. We were also viciously attacked by a plate of chocolate chunk bread pudding, and forced to defend ourselves!

On Saturday we had lunch with Roho and Genet at The Brat Stop in Kenosha, and I was amused by the lingering spirits of .38 Special, REO Speedwagon, and Cheap Trick (even though they’re not dead yet). Afterward we did our weekly shopping at Woodman’s, which wasn’t nearly as insanely crowded as we expected.

Monday we got together after work with Linnaeus, Roho, and Genet to check out the Pub Quiz at Emmett’s Ale House in Palatine. We learned some important things: 1. They start at 7:30. Get there early to get a table! 2. No more than four people per table. 3. It’s $7 per person, and if you’re in the room you’re paying – no just following along. 4. It’s seven rounds, and takes about two hours.

Unfortunately, five people is exactly the wrong number of people to have in that situation, so rather than split up, we said t’hell with it and enjoyed a lovely dinner (with a little beer) on the patio instead. So…who’s interested in doing the pub quiz this Monday? We need at least one more and up to three more people. After listening in to the questions, I think it’s something we could do well in 🙂

Today has been spent dealing with a lot of Anthrocon craziness, but also making some advance plans for New Year’s Eve – keep an eye out for more about that!

Memorial Day 2010-palooza!

I need a vacation from my vacation!

It all started so long ago…Friday, I think it was. That night, what was going to be a small pre-party get-together swelled to 11 people getting together for “tapas” (as in “we only serve a bunch of appetizers, so let’s call it tapas”) at Rugan’s in Antioch. The company was excellent, the beer tasty, the food OK, the service disastrous, and the sound level inexcusable. We had a good time anyway.

On Saturday things got rolling early as folks started to arrive for our big Memorial Day Party. The cast of characters from the previous night, plus, um, a lot of other people – I think we had 25 people in our place at dinner time. I smoked a bunch of chickens in the smoker, Dan grilled up some bacon cheeseburgers, and everyone had a great time. Little-known fact: “Mai Tai” is Polynesian for “express train to drunkville” 🙂 Everyone brought an amazing array of food and drinks and we had a fantastic dinner.

On Sunday morning we made the requisite pilgrimage to Las Vegas Restaurant for their tasty brunch, then retired back to our place for chatting, relaxing, and gaming. As the day wore on we broke out the leftovers (of which there were copious quantities) and Dan got to try out a couple more drink recipes. Drunken Malarkey was played, where we learned that Bill Hep may or may not have been a hep cat, toothpaste magically regenerates itself, and popping movie theater popcorn has been outsourced to China.

Monday brought breakfast fail, as I somehow failed to comprehend that bagels, lox, and cream cheese requires bagels and cream cheese. Um, whoops. Thanks to Mirko, at least, for importing salmon from Seattle! We recovered, though, and headed out en masse to take over Whirlyball in Vernon Hills! We had 23 people in all there, including 11 fursuiters. The Whirlyball marketing guys loved us, taking pictures and video of the fursuit Whirlyball sessions (our picture gallery is here). We played for two hours, and I think everyone had a pretty darned good time!

Afterward, we adjourned back to our place for lunch with a few folks, then saw our last guests off at 4 PM. Dan went to bed not long after that, and I took a nap myself, then enjoyed a quiet evening, just me and Buddy.

As always, this was a terrific weekend, and I want to thank all of the great folks who were able to join us at some time over the course of the weekend: Aerofox, Aiden Dingo, Aureth, Bacon, Baja, Basil, Croc, Delmir, Drake, Eddi, Ford, Genet, Gir, GrayWolf, Hartree, Hegdish, Jenne, Linnaeus, Mirko, Nik, Perro, Quasi, RB, Rex, Roho, Rusty, Stevie, Street, Ted, Theome, Tozier, Vish, and Woody (I think I may have missed a few – if so, I apologize!). As tired as we were at the end of it, I know I felt it was all worth it, and we’re already thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve and other fun events in the future!