kevin_standlee: (Match Game SF)
Jay Lake has, after a well-documented struggle, finally lost his battle with cancer. One of his connections with me was his donation of a signed ARC of Mainspring as a prize to Match Game SF, which turned out to be "cursed," in that while it kept coming up as our bonus round prize, was one people could never seem to win. After several years of futility, we resorted to putting in as an extra, in the form of, "First person to win a Bonus Round gets this book as well as the main prize," and after several more failed attempts, someone finally took the prize.

Jay appeared one time as a panelist on Match Game SF, for a single game at one of our appearances at Norwescon. Alas, we don't appear to have taken any pictures or shot any video of that appearance. If we did, I can't find it. If I ever do, I'll post it.
kevin_standlee: (Default)
Many of you know that I founded and ran for more than five years the MythAdventures Fan Club, originally inspired by Phil Foglio's comic book adaptation of Robert Lynn Asprin's novels. One of our active club members was a fan by the name of Matt Youngmark. During the second half of Match Game SF at Norwescon, the name "Matt Youngmark" came up in the contestant draw (although he had left during the break and thus didn't make it on stage), and I wondered if it was the same person. The following afternoon, while I was checking e-mail in one of the alcoves where wi-fi reached, I heard a voice calling my name. It was Matt Youngmark, and he introduced himself as the fan who had indeed be introduced to fandom through the pages of MythInformation, our clubzine. He got actively involved with a number of things, and he thanked me for having helped introduce him to SF fandom. he even gave me a copy of his book, Zombocalypse Now, a "Choose-o-matic" book (think the "Choose Your Own Adventure" Books) where you have to face a Zombie Apocalypse with the added challenge of being a stuffed rabbit.

I was pleased to finally get to meet Matt after all these years, and even more pleased to learn that the work that I and the others who worked to make the MythAdventures Fan Club a success for more than five years had such good effects.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Lisa and I initially had some errands to run in Seattle today when I first booked this trip, and therefore I booked the latest possible flight back to Oakland. However, by the time we got here, the reasons for the errands evaporated, so after checking out of the room and having breakfast, we decided that Lisa would go ahead and leave and I'd try to get over to Sea-Tac and catch an earlier flight.

I'd had a small crisis from work come up this morning which used an hour of my time to resolve, and that proved to be a deal-breaker for getting me on the 1:35 flight out of Sea-Tac. Had I not spent that hour in the hotel lobby working on databases, I would have been able to get to the airport in time to get on the flight. As it was, I might have been able to make the flight, but my luggage would not, and that would have been pointless. So I'm currently standing by for a seat on the 5:35 flight, with a confirmed seat on the 7:55. If I get a seat on the 5:35 and if it is on time, there's a small chance I might be able to take the Capitol home from Oakland, rather than BART + taxi, the latter of which costs more total. (BART fare is cheaper than the train, but the $12 taxi fare from the BART station wipes out the savings.)

Meanwhile, Sea-Tac has made their wi-fi free, which makes the four hour wait here at the airport much more bearable. I've sat here this afternoon getting caught up on as many things as I can. Now I can have some lunch and head down toward the D gates to hang out waiting to see if I make the earlier flight.

Match Game SF was fun, but I'm disappointed with myself for not having proactively arranged for a table for Westercon 64. Lisa and I did take over an unused table on Sunday to allow here and [livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma to promote the Tonopah Westercon bid. It's all too true that unless I have a specific task to accomplish like the game show or the Hugo Announcement, I don't have much to do at conventions these days, and sitting behind a table talking about some project or another is probably the best place for me.
kevin_standlee: (Kuma Bear)
It may be the last day of Norwescon, but you might not have realized it from how busy the hallways are at the Sea-Tac Doubletree and from the length of the queue in the lobby Starbucks.

Kuma Bear alertly spotted that one of the fan table groups decided to skip Sunday, and he moved in to set up a bid table for Tonopah in 2012. Details and picture on his LJ. I set up next to him and Lisa and took advantage of being within range of the free lobby wi-fi to participate in an panel at Eastercon about Virtual Conventions. Appropriately, the event was happening online as well as in person, and you can see a replay of the CoverItLive coverage to get a feeling for what it was like.

In a few minutes, I plan to change into my Captain WSFS uniform in preparation for the Hugo Award live coverage happening at 2 PM PDT today. Cheryl is having hardware problems and the wi-fi at Eastercon is being flaky, but it does look like we'll still get the coverage working. I'll be up in Cascade 10, where if all goes well we also will have the coverage projected so that everyone can see the results even without a computer.
kevin_standlee: (Default)
I finally got some photos of things other than Match Game SF on Saturday night as I hung around in the lobby outside the Masquerade. I couldn't get into the photo area proper, and I was late to the photo shoot entirely on account of Lisa and I went and had dinner after my 6 PM panel with [livejournal.com profile] twilight2000 on "What Popped Your Fannish Cherry" (stories of people's first experiences with fandom). That panel was surprisingly well attended, with about 16 people (which is about right for the size room we were in).

I am remiss about doing proper convention reportage. Once I had the show behind me, I lost a lot of my drive and sort of went limp today. Now I'm looking forward to getting the Hugo Announcement event working tomorrow. We don't get the room until exactly 2 PM, which is when the event in the UK is supposed to start, so we may not be present exactly when the event starts. I'll try to get online sooner and (I hope) get set up during the last part of the panel prior to our 2 PM start.
kevin_standlee: (Match Game SF)
Match Game SF went really well, apart from an embarrassment gaffe by me accidentally answering a question when I was trying to pose it to the contestant. This was our first show using the Tsuki Systems wireless microphone connection with my ECM-51A, and overall I think it went quite well. The room we had was just the right size; neither too crowded nor too roomy. The audience was enthusiastic, and we gave away some prizes.

The internet works in this room -- it's the same one we'll be using for the Hugo Award Announcement on Sunday afternoon -- and I'm using it right now to post this. But I can't last very long -- Lisa is taking the gear back to the hotel room, and I'm worn out and exhausted. I'm so happy that I have no panels Saturday until 6 PM and no commitments until then. Not setting an alarm for Saturday morning.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Captain 2)
The good news is that Norwescon Programming has advised me that, due to the availability of a hard-wired internet connection in Cascade 10, we can do the Live Announcement of the Hugo Award Nominations at 2 PM Sunday afternoon in Cascade 10. Tech services tells me that they do have a data projector and screen available for then as well, so we should be able to show the results to anyone present.

The bad news is that it's a wired connection, not wireless, so other people in the room won't be able to participate as much as we might have liked (although they can send Twitter messages through their own wireless devices). Had I known, I could have brought my small 5-port hub and extra cables so that a few other people could join the event on the spot as well.

Cascade 10 is half of the room where we're doing Match Game SF tonight, so we should be able to test the internet connectivity this evening. In case of last-minute technical failure, an alternative location (where the free lobby wi-fi reaches) is the foyer outside the Evergreen Meeting Rooms. If you're at Norwescon, look for me in my WSFS uniform on Sunday.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Captain 2)
My flight was a little late getting in, and right after checking in, Lisa and I went off to have dinner, so we missed the major events at Norwescon tonight, that being the Opening Ceremonies and the Zombie Walk, although several people on the Norwescon Twitter Tracker already have photos posted.

After getting back from dinner and unpacked, Lisa and I (with Kuma Bear's help) posted Match Game SF fliers around the hotel. We also got an opportunity to scope out the room in which the show will be on Friday night. I think we'll need to be sure to be there right at 7 PM when the hotel starts to reset the room so we can get them to make some minor tweaks to the current plan. This is much easier to do before the set up the riser and lock it into place. Everything else we can do.

Lisa has all of the tech gear, including 100' of heavy-gauge electrical extension cord, which we need because all of the power outlets are on the opposite wall from where we need to set up the Tech Desk. We ran into NWC's Michale Citrak, who escorted us to the Tech Room, where they were able to supply us with the one piece of kit we didn't have with us: gaffer tape, for taping down the cables safely.

Then it was time to find an internet signal, with an eye toward Sunday's Hugo Award Announcement. It turns out that Westercon 64 doesn't actually have a fan table up here after all -- I think we must have forgotten to ask this year. Whoops. But that also means that we don't have a default location for people to gather for the announcement. The upstairs lobby set with tables and chairs would be a good place, but the downstairs wi-fi does not appear to reach there, and I think the conference room internet connectivity is not free. (I haven't tried it yet.) However, maybe we'll be able to secure some space in the downstairs lounge, as long as we buy some coffee and such. I'll probably be in my WSFS Uniform to serve as a relatively easy-to-spot target for "come see the Hugo Announcements here."

And now, although it's late, Lisa and I may go move a bunch of the Match Game kit into the room because it should be a lot easier to get a bell cart at 12:30 AM than during the rest of the day. I'm sort of dreading how hard it will be to get a cart tomorrow afternoon. I may start trying around 5:30 so we might have it in time to get the gear from our room out in wing 5A into the main part of the hotel and down to Cascade 9/10 by 7 PM, which is when we get the room. Because of the layout of this hotel and because our room on wing 5A is on the ground floor, it's going to be three separate elevator trips to get moved -- up from 1 to 2 on wing 5A, then over the skybridge to wing 6, then back down to 1, then across to wing 1 (the tower), the up to 2 where the Cascade rooms are. There's not much that can be done about it, although if it's not raining tomorrow evening, it might be faster to just cut across the parking lot rather than to traverse the habitrails.
kevin_standlee: (Match Game SF)
I know that April 1 is very late to be announcing a change to a show that we're doing on April 2 at Norwescon (9 PM Friday evening, Cascade 9), but after much reflection and consideration, we've decided that recreating a 1970s game show is simply too retro for most of our audience, a really significant number of whom weren't even born when the show originally aired. So we're going to catch up to the early 2000s by changing the show to:

Win Spring Schoenhuth's Jewelry

(AKA "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grade Teacher?")

Contestants will take on the owner of the Retro Rocket Emporium in answering trivia questions related to SF, Fantasy, Fandom, and related subjects (that includes science). The winner of the main game will face off with [livejournal.com profile] dinogrl in a Best of Ten Trivia Challenge with the grand prize being a fabulous collection of gold and silver jewelery from Springtime Creations with an estimated retail price of One Million Dollars more than $1000!

I'll be doing the "Jimmy Kimmel" role as second fiddle and question-poser during the second and bonus rounds. In related news, I'm delighted to announce that I've recruited a new Show Producer to deal with the on-the-day setup work, which will make my job as show (co-) host considerably easier. [livejournal.com profile] yourbob is always my first choice, but since he's not available, welcome Opal Firlo to the team.

Packing

Mar. 31st, 2010 08:43 pm
kevin_standlee: (Match Game SF)
As far as I can tell, I have everything in place from my end for Match Game SF at Norwescon. I got the last of the new questions printed last night. (Most of the show will be re-using the SiliCon 2009 set, with some new Seattle-specific questions thrown in. Since none of the panelists were at the SiliCon show and the audience overlap consists of me, Lisa, and Kuma Bear, I think we'll be okay.) The show intro, closing, and commercials are done. I remembered at the last minute that Tonopah in 2012 needed a commercial, because T2012 is a prize sponsor: all Bonus Round prizes come with a pre-supporting membership in the Tonopah bid.

Now I need to pack for tomorrow's flight. Unfortunately, due to the big gap in train schedules, I have the choice of being more than three hours early for my flight or risk missing it if the slightest thing goes wrong, so I'm out of here at 12:30 tomorrow afternoon.
kevin_standlee: (Match Game SF)
I've been spending my evenings the last couple of days preparing the bits of Match Game SF material that are not in Oregon. That's the small parts: intros, outros, commercials, name tents, and some of the gift certificates not directly supplied by the sponsors. It's remarkably time-consuming, for all that it doesn't take up much space. In the next few days, I'll be putting together the actual questions I plan to use in Seattle. This will be a mix of previously used material from SiliCon and some new questions, particularly those with a Norwescon or Seattle spin on them.

Meanwhile, Lisa has let me know of the good and bad news regarding the show tech kit. She bought a nice big professional rolling crate to hold most of the show kit except the speakers. Everything fits, which is good. What is bad is that when the crate is full, it's too heavy for her to lift into the pickup truck. Moving it around on its wheels is fine, but there's nobody in Mehama to help her get the kit into the truck in the first place. She may need to do the packing the way one moves a bookshelf: move the case first, then the pieces that go into it. When she gets to Sea-Tac, we can move the kit together.
kevin_standlee: (Match Game SF)
I turned in some required documentation to Norwescon today for our Match Game SF show planned for this year. We're in a room that's slightly smaller than last year but still much bigger than the tiny place we had to work the year before. I asked Lisa today what her technial requirements were, and she said, "Electrical outlets," because she's now managed to put together everything she needs to stage the show technically: microphones, speakers, mixer, cables, etc.

Now we need to put together the panel: Once I've managed to tie down the "returning regulars" ([livejournal.com profile] dinogrl, are you coming to NWC and do you want to be a panelist again?), I can ask NWC Programming to send me some panelists from the general participant pool.

We do have a promise of a membership to next year's Norwescon for the prizes, and we still have a lot of stuff from Night Shade Books, who have proven to be a wonderful sponsor. I guess we do need to look into refilling the BASFA Grab Bag o' Stuff, though, for Lovely Parting Gifts.

The most-urgent stuff for MGSF that I need to get done in the next couple of weeks is pack up the heavy, bulky stuff to carry up to Oregon with me when I drive up there on Feburary 13.
kevin_standlee: (Kreegah Bundalo)
As I work to adjust my body clock for tomorrow's trip to Montreal, I set the alarm for 4:30 this morning. As it happens, I awoke on my own at 3:45 and decided I'd better go ahead and get up. It's not so much that I need to work hard to adjust to a three-zone move -- that doesn't usually bother me that much -- but that because my flight is at 6 AM, I need to be at the airport between 4 and 4:30, and thus need to leave home about 3:30, which means getting up at 2:30. That's too early even in the destination time zone (5:30 Eastern Time).

At that hour, the only practical way to get to the airport is to drive; you can't take BART to SFO from here unless your flight is after about 9 AM. Traffic should be light, but I must remember that the San Mateo Bridge has overnight road work and drive by way of the Dumbarton Bridge. I considered taking one of the stay-and-park deals from a hotel near SFO, but as I'm only going to be away four days (Friday-Monday), it's still cheaper to just pay the parking. If the trip were for a week, then the stay one night/park free for a week offer starts to make sense.

Now, let's see if I'll be able to get to bed sufficiently early today to get a good night's sleep. I'll also take my neck pillow on the trip. You'd think that flying first class and sleep-deprived as I'm likely to be, sleeping on the plane won't be a problem, but sleeping on planes is almost always a problem for me. It's a sign of just how exhausted I was at the end of Norwescon that I fell asleep for the first 30 minutes of the flight back from SEA.
kevin_standlee: (Match Game SF)
It's way too soon to know whether I'll be at Norwescon next year or if we'll be invited to do Match Game SF again there, but if it does happen and they put us in the same room (Evergreen 4), then we've now learned some lessons about how to lay out the room to make it work better.

Working from the floor plan, we had the panelists' risers set diagonally in one corner. The risers are of a size that if you only used one, panelists would have a good chance of falling off the back of the riser unless it were flush against the wall, and therefore they needed two risers. This, and the diagonal alignment, ate up two rows of seats.

If we do it again, I think we can manage to do it with only a single riser, flush against the black wall, and with the panelists thus facing straight toward the audience. We can set the contestant table at a slight angle, but because it's on the floor and not on a riser, it doesn't take up so much space.

I also learned that I need to make specific MGSF business cards to give to people after the shows, because people want to know how to contact me and find out where pictures and video of the shows are.

And there was the lesson I mentioned a couple of days ago: Lisa says we should never again agree to both host a party and do a show at the same convention. It takes too much out of us. Sitting a fan table isn't the same thing and doesn't require the amount of equipment and effort as a party does.
kevin_standlee: (Match Game SF)
Because Lisa was so busy running tech, she didn't have time to take a lot of photos of Match Game SF; however, after the show, she took these pictures of our panel. Yes, there are different people in different shots, for [livejournal.com profile] alicebentley substituted for [livejournal.com profile] dinogrl when Spring had to leave for her 10 PM panel.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
I'm back from Norwescon, after a pretty uneventful flight and a lot of waiting for a train connection. I'm very tired.

Last night's SJ in 2011 party was pretty quiet. Lisa had deliberately gone pretty light on buying party supplies, and even then we ended up with three boxes of crackers and an unopened container of cheese spread that we gave to the Con Suite on Sunday morning, plus two boxes of oatmeal raisin cookies that we laid out at the SJ2011/Anticipation table.

Photos of our table (with me and Kuma Bear in our Anticipation t-shirts on Saturday) and of the SJ2011 party on Sunday before we opened) are on my Flikr site here. I'm too worn out to go into great detail about the photos, I'm afraid.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Captain 1)
I've really enjoyed watching Norwescon go on around me this year, more so than in past years, even though (as expected) none of the people here seem interested in Westercon or Worldcon. (That doesn't count the 10% who have already made up their minds.) But there's a huge number of people in costume here, and the average age is a lower than a lot of the conventions I've attended of late. There's an energy here missing from many other events.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
At about 2 AM this morning, I noted that there were actually multiple empty parking spaces in the lot, so we thought we could risk going out to do our party shopping for tonight. The Doubletree's parking lot is so overloaded by Norwescon that during the day or evening, giving up a parking spot means you probably will never get any space back at all. We'd been reassured that there was a 24-hour Safeway just a short way up International Blvd. We headed south on International, and a couple of miles later found a Safeway -- which closed at 1 AM! We tried going north and found nothing. It was getting on for 3 AM by then, so we gave up.

Once I got down to the table today, I looked it up online and found that there was a 24-hour Safeway, but it wasn't on International, but on Military Road at 164th St -- not really that far away, but you have to know where it is. But now we don't dare move the van. Instead, we probably will use the 174 bus, which runs every 30 minutes, to head down to that first Safeway. There are bus stops in front of our hotel and in front of that grocery store. We should be able to make it work, but it's a hassle, that's for sure. The things we do for fandom....
kevin_standlee: (Manga Kevin)
Without an internet connection in my room, I did not get a report posted last night -- besides, we were really tired. Photos will have to come later, because they are in Lisa's camera, and she's trying to get some sleep this afternoon. The show last night went really well. We pulled a bit of a surprise on the first game, but it was a good one. I explained that I'd agreed that in exchange for them coming to help set up, I seated the first two contestants in advance. I introduced them, and asked the triangle contestant, Ron Dougherty, if there was anyone in the audience he wanted to introduce, and he called out his girlfriend, Yvonne Reide, who was sitting in the front row.

I asked him to pick A or B, and when he picked A, I read the question: "Yvonne Reide said, 'I've been waiting forever for Ron Dougherty to say _____!'"

Ron stood up, walked over to Yvonne, went down on one knee, produced an ring, and proposed marriage to her on the spot. She was understandably flabbergasted, but the did accept. The two embraced, the bell sounded, and I said, "I do believe we have a match!"

Yes, of course it was a set-up -- but Yvonne didn't know it was coming, which was the point. Ron had contacted me some time ago with this idea, and I worked out a way to make it happen convincingly within the format we're using. I'd printed the same question for A or B so there was no worry about him forgetting which one to choose. (I gave the newly-engaged couple the A/B cards as souvenirs, and they took pictures with me in front of the game signs during our half-time break.)

After the proposal excitement, we called up the first two "real" contestants and got the show rolling. We had a full house -- SRO at times -- and an enthusiastic audience. After the first three games, we took a 15 minute break (experience has taught us of the need for a break at this point), then came back with Late Nite -- although actually, people were relatively restrained in their answers. In any event, the second session was just as much fun as the first, and I think pretty much everyone went away happy. Jeff Hulten did fine work as our announcer, Lisa kept the tech working (although I know there was some frantic paddling going on at times as equipment behaved in unpredictable ways), and Kuma Bear supervised the Tech Table.

Speaking of Tech, we have a new piece of gear for this show. The Yes/No bell/buzz effects are produced by programming my laptop to map those sound effects to the keyboard. Lisa has always disliked this because of the chance of damaging the computer by over-enthusiastic key-punching. So she built a box with two buttons on it that generates "left mouse" and "right mouse," plugged it into the laptop by USB cable, and mapped those mouse buttons to the SFX. This allowed for banging away on the box without chance of harming the computer. In fact, we could actually close the laptop's case while it was running. She's happy with that new item.

Turns out that except for the speakers and mic stand, Lisa had brought everything else she needed to do the show, including cables. In fact, one challenge we had was, after the show ended, from keeping the Norwescon Tech Team from taking Lisa's cables. It's perfectly understandable, but eventually we managed to convince them that yes, really, those are our cables, not theirs.

We also finally managed to give away the copy of Jay Lake's Escapement, which has been knocking around our prize mix for a long time but was a hoodoo -- nobody could win the bonus round when the prize came up. We put that book into every bonus round prize this year, and the hoodoo claimed the first five contestants before finally the sixth and final contestant matched and won the book along with a Cargo Cult gift certificate. If he hadn't won, I was going to start calling contestant from the audience and running Super Match over and over until someone won that book.

Tear-down was far less frantic, and we rather sedately moved our gear back to the room, then put some of it in the van. We had a great time, and I'm very pleased with how it all turned out. And the marriage proposal was front-page news on the convention newsletter today. (Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] solarbird!)
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
[Another back-dated entry caused by having no time and no in-room connection.]

Lisa and I joined a group of Norwescon committee, staff, and selected other invitees for a dinner celebration of Norwescon's history. I was very flattered by the invitation from con chair Becky Citrak, and made a point of thanking her for inviting us. I'm very aware that my contributions to fandom could easily boil down to "what have you done for me lately," after all.

We had a very pleasant supper, perfectly timed in fact because as it was breaking up and people headed down to the PKD Awards, Lisa and I had to head over to Evergreen 4, where the hotel was resetting the room for Match Game SF. The hotel staff were very nice about making some last-minute configuration changes we needed so that the Tech Table was in the same place as the power outlets. After the room was set, Lisa and I borrowed a hotel cart and moved the game gear down to the room, where we had a couple of recruited production assistants who Lisa put to work. Norwescon's Tech Team delivered the speakers and other gear from [livejournal.com profile] smarier, and I was also able to borrow from them a power strip, a desk microphone stand, and gaffer tape for cables. Lisa then sent me off to return the cart and go back to the room and change into my suit to host the show. It's a good thing I went back, because we'd left a couple of things in the room, particularly the Game Board (in which the questions sit during the show), so she had one of our production assistants call me and tell me to bring it.

More about how the show went in my next entry, but the point here is that Norwescon's people have been extremely cooperative and helpful at every step of the way, and I'm very grateful to them for it.

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