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Balticon 50 over and out..... - KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life
ramblings from a mad fedora'd writer
Balticon 50 over and out.....
Well, despite some major issues, I'd say Balticon 50 was a success!

I'm completely exhausted, so just some bullet points:
    ---The new hotel needs some work. While it was big enough to host the con in terms of square footage, the arrangement of that space was not optimal with way too many chokepoints. Also a hotel this size really should have more than four elevators.
    ---But the biggest issue was with hotel security. There were reports (which I got secondhand, so be aware that this may not be 100% accurate) of harassment by security of con-goers, including sexual harassment of female cosplayers, forcing one person to leave the convention for going barefoot, and knocking on doors looking for parties to shut down (and waking up the people in those rooms who were trying to sleep). I also directly observed security roaming the halls in packs of three Saturday night on a quiet floor, and also someone from security being aggressive and rude toward someone having a panic attack. It really feels like security went in with an agenda toward keeping the freaks in line, and that needs to be addressed before next year (not to mention before (Re)Generation Who 3 uses this hotel next spring).
    ---While the schedule was something of a disaster behind the scenes, and programming had some issues at the con itself, I was fortunate in that I was spared most of that. I wasn't double booked, I was only put on one item I shouldn't have been (the Baen Roadshow, and I just didn't show up for that, and was not missed -- I've only done one thing for Baen, which was co-edit an anthology for them 19 years ago.....), and my panels all went very well.
    ---The first was my one-person presentation on writing fight scenes. This was a bit harried, as I just barely got to the hotel in time. I had to unload the car onto a bellhop's cart and send it off with Dale, park the car in the lot we'd prepaid to put the car in (for only $27 for four days!), and then walk the half-mile back to the hotel in 90-degree temperature, at which point it was 4pm, exactly when the panel was. Wheeeeee!
    ---The second was delayed by a fire alarm that forced us to evacuate the hotel, but once we were all allowed back inside (I heard two different stories for what set off the alarm: a kitchen fire and the fog machine), we had a great talk on how to edit shared worlds. I discussed my tie-in work, as well as V-Wars, The Scattered Earth, and Viral, while my fellow panelists discussed 1632 (Walt Boyes) and Walker's Edge Publishing (John G. Walker).
    ---I also did a panel on how writing is both what we do and what we love, moderated ably by Carl Cipra, who did a superb job of asking leading questions to me, Jean Marie Ward, and Jody Lynn Nye.
    ---Saturday evening was a joint reading with Jean Marie and Christine Norris. D.C. Wilson was also supposed to be part of the reading, but did not show -- it's completely possible that Wilson wasn't even at the convention, or was double booked. Either way, I read a chunk of my short story "Deep Background," which will be appearing in Aliens: Bug Hunt next year.
    ---For the first time in many years, I was interviewed by Fast Forward. This genre interview show got its start in the early 1990s as a public access TV show in the D.C. area around the same time that we were doing The Chronic Rift the same way in NYC. These days, they just put stuff on the Internet, and they did a ton of interviews this past weekend. I'll let y'all know when mine goes up....
    ---What spare time I had was spent at the eSpec Books booth, which was where you could find my books, and I am pleased to say that I did sell a few. There was also eSpec's annual Big-Ass Launch Party, which was primarily for their Gaslight and Grimm anthology, but also for the other stuff eSpec has published since last year: the anthologies The Side of Good/The Side of Evil (which has my Super City Police Department story "Send in the Clones") and Weird Wild West, as well as their reissue of the Defending the Future anthology Dogs of War.
    ---Monday was pretty straightforward: an autograph session, then getting stuff out of the room and packing up the car, then a very long time saying goodbye to people. *laughs* Seriously, after 25 years of con-going, 22 of them as a pro, going to a con, especially one I've been attending since the 1990s, is almost like a family reunion..................

And then there was Sunday. Sunday gets its own category:
    ---It started with my three-hour seminar on the business of writing: basically talking about all the aspects of a professional writing career that don't involve putting words on a screen.
    ---Meredith arrived somewhere in there -- she had a work conference until Sunday morning, then came to the con to see folks and also to interpret for the Boogie Knights concert. I helped her get registered and find people to hug, and then I took a desperately needed nap.
    ---The Knights concert had some sound issues as the tech crew couldn't get the microphones to work, to the point where we started without amplification. After two songs, though, the problems were fixed, and we were all properly mic'd. We sounded great, had a wonderful time, the audience loved it, and we sold a few CDs at our post-concert autograph session, too!
    ---After that was the aforementioned launch party, which we didn't get to attend as much of as I might have liked (though I was there for the group picture, and to sign several books), but we also really needed food. Me, Wrenn, Meredith, and Dale went to an excellent Chinese place (Uncle Lee's) right by the hotel for a superb dinner and much high hilarity.
    ---Then there was The Eye of Argon. Michael Ventrella has been leading a bunch of us in these readings of Jim Theis's horridly written fantasy "epic" over the past few years, where we not only read the awful work out loud as is (typos, misspellings, and all) with a straight face, but we also act out the events. Balticon's was one of our best, with one of the high points being when I literally hoisted Hildy Silverman into my arms as if I was going to carry her over the threshold (right in front of my fiancée and her husband, who were laughing harder than everyone). The entire audience got their shot at reading the horrible text, and we actually got most of the story read. It was magnificent.

We got home late last night after stopping in Pennsylvania to have dinner with our friend Janet, and then home to two cats who really missed us. :)

This was one of the most physically grueling conventions I've ever done, and it's a good thing I'm in good shape. *laughs* Between the physical demands of Eye of Argon, the concert, and all the hauling of stuff out of the hotel room and to the car Monday, I did a lot of physical activity. Sheesh.....

This week is a lot of work -- I've got two short stories to write, a novel to work on, two articles to edit, and karate to teach. Plus the usual Trek and Bat-rewatches. Wheeeeee!

Current Mood: exhausted exhausted
Current Music: "Bring on the Night"/"When the World is Running You Down" by Sting

10 comments or Please comment
woofiegrrl From: woofiegrrl Date: May 31st, 2016 04:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
All in favor of making Uncle Lee's a tradition?
sdelmonte From: sdelmonte Date: May 31st, 2016 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Re: hotel security..EEEEP! I of course saw the "no shoes, no service" signs in the elevator, but I hadn't a clue that the hotel was being that moronic. Never mind the far more serious concern about the harrassment. I often wonder, when a con is new to a hotel, what the staff thinks of us, and whether we're being treated as valued guests or the freakshow. Sadly, I now know.

And as you might have heard, we're supposed to be back at this hotel for the next three years. In theory, the concomm should be able to have a conversation with the hotel and make our collective displeasure known. But that might not solve the problem. (I am guessing that at Hunt Valley, with all the cons in and out of there every year, they are used to cosplayers, but I could be wrong.)

Interestingly, I was only aware of the problems with elevators and the programming. I guess when you spend most of your con in the LARP and filk rooms, you miss things.
mbarr From: mbarr Date: May 31st, 2016 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ahh.. you guys went. Do you normally attend? Does the Jersey City Collective attend?

(We are considering for next year.)
sdelmonte From: sdelmonte Date: May 31st, 2016 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
We have gone three times now (and skipped last year only because of Shavuot). And we plan to keep going, though next year might require some advanced logistics since Shavuot is Tuesday night. We really enjoy it, warts and all.

ETA: Merav et al haven't been regulars.

Edited at 2016-05-31 08:57 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 31st, 2016 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Balticon info

Volunteer coordinator here, to fill in a bit more.

Fire alarm was due to a fog machine. Hotel had been informed and said it was OK, but then forgot to turn off their alarm system.

Hotel Security was a problem. Majority of hotels have a no bare feet policy. One of the truck crew does not like wearing shoes, and was very argumentative with security. ( There was also an element of disrespect to them I was told, I didn't see it.) That put security on guard. The young girl who was harassed to the point of filing a report on it, was wearing ballet slippers, she is also my step daughter. When the Hotel manager was brought into the problem changes were made and security backed off quite a bit. Discussions on policy for next year will continue and the Hotel Policies on dress and behavior will be widely published in Con material.

voxwoman From: voxwoman Date: May 31st, 2016 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Balticon info

We watched hotel staff break so much glassware in the restaurant over the weekend, that we were agog that anyone would risk going barefoot.

I would also recommend NOT putting any tables on the skinny walkway in the atrium. I actually got a (very mild) sunburn sitting at a bid table for the weekend.
wrenn From: wrenn Date: May 31st, 2016 06:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Balticon info

It wasn't 'truck crew' - it was a long standing member of tech crew. Who is known for not wearing shoes. Who knows the laws involved, and knows what hotel chains have policies and ones that don't. He also knows how to be polite.

Since you weren't there and I was, I can tell you that he was not, at first argumentative. He was also not in any way disrespectful. He asked for a written confirmation of the policy.

I was there. Security was asked for the policy, and hotel management was asked for. Hotel security doubled down (brought more security into the main ballroom) It wasn't argumentative, unless you consider repeatedly asking for information and hotel management 'argumentative'. The Tech director also asked for hotel management and was ignored by hotel security.

There were other issues - on room floors. One example was A long time attendee told to close and lock his door while he was in the room (it was left bolt open because he has his teenage kids coming and going), with threaten of expulsion from the hotel if he did not comply.

What I saw was 0-100 mph if you QUESTIONED hotel security. More than once.

I will also note that I had a concom member try to tell me that it was no big thing. That this was city hotel not one 'in the suburbs' (referencing Hunt Valley I took her to mean). That somehow the Hunt Valley was lax and this was what you get when you're in the city. I don't think she really acknowledged my look of disbelief. She also tried to tell me that it was the congoers who weren't used to 'real security'.

I've exec staffed anime conventions in Boston proper 4+X the size of this years Balticon. I live in NYC. This level of insensitivity in a the security staff of a 4 star luxury hotel was unacceptable.

Edited at 2016-05-31 06:24 pm (UTC)
mbarr From: mbarr Date: May 31st, 2016 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Balticon info

Color me shocked it was them. Saw that one a mile away :)
dragonmakr From: dragonmakr Date: June 1st, 2016 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)
It was great to see you! And I'm sorry I won't get to see you at next year's BaltiCon- if they 1) stay in the city and 2) keep the same dealers' room coordinator, I will NOT be coming back. Of course, they have another three years on their contract with this hotel.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 12th, 2016 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Hotel Security... inside scoop.

I heard that the hotel was "warned" that Balticon attendees were troublemakers and would vandalize the place by a person with a grudge from another hotel in Baltimore.
10 comments or Please comment