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Yesterday we toured the bullfighting ring and went to its museum.

Read more... )

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Mary threw a great party! The programming was awesome, there was plenty to do, and I think I heard only one fan complaining the whole time. Special thanks to Cyndi and Nancy, who kept me in the loop and got me free stuff!

slyvermont: (Leia)
Celebration IV was a blast. Many of the issues with CIII were fixed and there were only a handful of new problems. I hope fans had as good a time as I did. (Anyone get a read on fan reaction?)

Since I returned on Tuesday night, I had to work a 12-hour day on Wednesday and a 9-hour day Thursday. I still managed to unpack and get my pictures onto my computer hard drive and some online – next step is figuring out this Flickr CJ thing (how is it that I can take 190 photos and still feel that I didn’t take enough?). There’s also laundry to do and a stack of newspapers waist high that need to be read.

slyvermont: (Tonks)
You know that your fandom has come to an end when the local car wash, which used to be called STAR WASH in a lettering style that definitely evoked STAR WARS, is now called Laser Wash.
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Yes, I am alive. Here’s a rundown of a fun and fabulous weekend. And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Details here )
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Last night I had the honor and the privilege of watching the dress rehearsal of the Star Wars Musical at MIT.

I was in Boston for a conference, staying about 1.5 miles from MIT, and Steph (bless her) got me in. To give you a sense of how busy she is, she didn’t even tell her husband that I was coming. So everyone was a little surprised to see me, although they are so tired and distracted and busy that we didn’t linger over it.

Two words describe what I saw: brilliant, and ambitious.

Opening night is tonight – very very soon – and when I left at 1 a.m., they had a lot more to do. I’m sure there are many who didn’t sleep at all in the last 30 hours. My fingers are crossed that all the technical problems get solved, especially the sound system.

I hardly spoke to or saw everyone. But it was nice just to be there and watch.
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That's Abby. I had lunch with her Monday, and she never ceases to amaze me.

I brought along some of my extra BK toys for her son, who’s about to turn 7. He had a blast playing with them (he loves Star Wars), so it was nice to see the toys being used by someone they were actually designed for. Abby then became determined to get all the other toys for him, quite a feat given that the promotion is over (except here, where apparently my local BK still has 11 boxes to open). She walks into two BKs in her area, one where the promotion is still happening and the other where it is over. She sees the display case is up in one store and down in the other. She then calls the manager of the two stores, and arranges to buy all the toys in the still-open display case. She now has almost all the toys – there were three missing from the display case, but she did get a Vader. Everyone else suffers for weeks eating BK food, and she gets them in one day.

(And for everyone I need to mail toys to -- it will happen, I promise. They are in envelopes. I just need to get to the post office.)

In other news: The drugs have worked wonders for Pumpkin (our cat with cancer). He’s eating again. He’s going to die, but at least not from immediate starvation. Now we’re going to have to figure out what to do with him when we take our weeklong vacation in a week.

And I’ve decided that my next magazine piece is going to be on this subject of pet illnesses, the ethics of making these decisions for pets, looking at the options that people are now dealing with.

Coming this weekend: two of my most favorite summer activities, going to the quilt festival and strawberry picking. I'll try to take photos of the most amazing quilts.

Cat update

Jun. 16th, 2005 10:01 am
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First, thank you everyone for your thoughts, suggestion, support. People are dying in Iraq, some of you have seriously ill relatives, some of you are sick -- and yet you express sympathy for my cat! I love all of you.

The bad news is that the cancer has progressed so much that chemo won't work. So we don't have to make any decisions. The good news is that Rich is at the vet now getting Pumpkin the drugs he needs to at least feel more comfortable and be able to eat.

Do any of you have experience with how the other animal reacts to when their playmate dies? Our other cat is Pumpkin's sister, and they've been together all their lives. Will she even notice, or care? (Right now, she's actually kind of jealous of the attention we're giving to the other one.)

On a totally different note -- something I've been meaning to mention for a few days now -- the new media guy at work sent out an e-mail with statistics about the paper's website in May. My Star Wars article was the third most-read article for the month, beaten only by our coverage of the drowning of three local children.

Thanks again.
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I walked into the high school main office today, and on cue, the secretaries all started humming the SW theme music. I think they were waiting all day for me to walk in.

The school principal told me he’d never look at me the same again. I didn’t have time to ask him what exactly he meant.

I’m getting emails from perfect strangers (thankfully to my work account).

Life is strange.
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Pre-con activities: Work on Wednesday was crazy. I only mention this because of the one good thing that happened that night: the very nice manager at BK who went into a back room and rummaged through a box of toys for me for a Darth Vader. Successfully. Yea.

I got to the local theater around 10, and joined Caroline, Rich and Caroline’s friend Sarah on line. Her other friends came later, including Ruby – who brought with her a 12-inch Obi-Wan dressed in a crocheted green and yellow (i.e. pineapple) ball gown. Oh, the damage we’ve done. It was cold and rainy; I called the DC crew while in line and learned about their theater, with 18 screens of SW. Wow. Our dinky theater was packed, mainly with high school and college kids. The movie was just as good the second time. To be honest, I can barely remember that viewing.

Next morning, after hardly any sleep (who can sleep after watching that movie?) I flew to DC where Nancy picked me up and whisked me away to the Uptown theater, where we joined Tish, Diane, Sara, Cyndi, Paula and Beth on line. The Uptown is an awesome theater, with a huge screen. This viewing was marred by the fanboys in the audience who cheered both when Palpatine named Anakin Vader, and when the helmet came down on his head. Those scenes are incredibly sad and painful moments in the movie to me, and that some would be happy to see that happen just says that some people just don’t get it. They are trapped in the “Darth Vader is cool” mentality, and the whole point of the movie just went over their heads.

The best part of this weekend was that we could just talk, talk, talk about this movie and all its bits and pieces. After seeing it at the Uptown, we munched on pizza and watched A New Hope. While we talked a lot while watching it, it was still satisfying (“so what exactly is Chewie saying to Han in the cantina?” “Obi Wan is a lying bastard!”).

Friday, after much running around and dropping off and picking up people at the airport, we eventually saw a digital screening. We met a kindred spirit on line, which was fun, and managed to hear the sound through the creaking seats.

So that was three showings in 30 hours. Since this movie is both physically and emotionally draining (my muscles just tense up at the end), I am a wreck. The obsession has returned in full force (pun intended, I guess).

Friday night we got takeout Mexican and watched the video clips that come with the sound track. A comment about the music – I am not a musically inclined person. I am pretty much tone deaf. When other people talk about so-and-so’s theme, I nod my head trying to look intelligent while really thinking, I have not a clue. But even I noticed some of the music in this movie. The scene where Anakin is in the council chamber deciding his fate, while Padme is across the city looking at the Jedi temple – that music is very powerful.

Saturday, after delivering Beth to the airport, we wandered around Bethesda, had lunch, and then took me to the airport.

I am blessed that everything worked for me this weekend. Timing was tight – but I managed to see the 12:01 a.m. showing with my family, arrive in DC in time for the Uptown showing, and even more amazing, arrive back in Vermont in time to see Caroline dance. I got to the Barre Opera house about 30 minutes into the performance, and took my seat just two minutes before Caroline took the stage for her first dance. So I got to see all of her dances, and see Star Wars with my virtual friends. I’m sure the travel gods will arrange payback some time in the future, but for this weekend, I’m grateful they worked with me.
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I'm truly exhausted after a long weekend filled with seeing and talking and thinking about ROTS and Star Wars.  This movie just saps the energy out of me; it is emotionally draining.

This is a quick post because I need to sleep!!! Hopefully I can write more later, both about the “Sith happens con” and my reaction to the movie.

But first, here’s the link to my article on Star Wars.

We have a comments function, so comment away. There's already one from the husband of a friend.

As for the subject of this write-up ("it's all about SW"): At Caroline’s dance recital, there was a number to Star Wars music. Little girls prancing about in glittery fabric, and all I could see was Mustafar. And another number where ballet dancers had a mock sword fight. All I could think about was lightsaber battles.

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I don't leave for another 24 hours -- I'm seeing the midnight show here in Montpelier with family and Caroline's friends and then off to join folks in DC.  I'm sad to miss out on a day with virtual friends, but seeing it here was just as important.

(Will PG accept the fact that I plan to sign two pineapple pieces?)

This isn't "the" story -- but here's what ran about SW in our paper today, written by me, of course. I got the local theater owner to reminesce about the movie 28 years ago.

And speaking of the big story, that I'm writing for the Sunday paper -- the editor really liked it, and barely edited it.

Can't wait to see some of you soon -- and for the rest, safe travels and enjoy the movie.

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What a grey, dreary day. Cold and damp.

The good news – I bought tickets to the midnight show of ROTS here in Montpelier. They went on sale yesterday, and I wasn’t even the first ones on line to buy them.

Today, I worked on my Star Wars story for the magazine, and had my picture taken. I purged my office of a few items – Obi-Wan dressed in grass skirt, Anakin in black leather pants. The world doesn’t need to know everything. Among my 12-inch Star Wars vinyl collection I kept my Spike doll. I’m kinda curious if anyone will notice.

I'm off to see a film called Millions -- indie, foreign film, I think.

Here's hoping the sun comes out soon here.
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There are many benefits to living in a small town. It’s nice having a local theater owned by a local family. But they are so old-fashioned!

Is it possible that my local theater is the only one in the country planning on showing ROTS yet not selling advance tickets? That never sells advance tickets?

When we all went to see Prisoner of Azkaban, we couldn’t buy tickets for the 9:30 pm show until they had sold all the tickets for the 6:30 show. This meant waiting on the line for the 6:30 show, even though we weren’t planning on going to that one.

Since I don’t know when tickets go on sale for the 12:01 am show (which they haven't confirmed they are having), I have to drive or walk by the theater every day now. What a waste! And it’s not like I can call them or check out a website to get the information, because they just don’t do that.

On the other hand (switching fandoms) the locally owned bookstore gets it. I just reserved my copy of the new Harry Potter. The bookstore has already announced that it will be open to distribute the book at 12:01 am on July 16.
slyvermont: (Monet)
I managed to read two books despite going to CIII and then the busy schedule upon return.

I read Labrynth of Evil by James Luceno, the SW book that directly precedes the movie. I did like the interaction between Obi Wan and Anakin, and hope that their camaraderie is conveyed in the movie.

As an aside: the line in the trailer, when Ewan shouts – But you were the chosen one – keeps echoing in my mind. Those few words, and the way he says them, seem to convey a heartache of emotion – frustration, disappointment, disbelief. If the rest of the movie lives up to that one line … wow.

Anyway, I enjoyed Labrynth, although I thought the plot was a bit weak. It seemed like a filler story – this is what happens to get us from here to here. It serves more as a segue to the movie, as opposed to a narrative that can stand on its own.

The second book I read is by Catherine Orenstein, called "Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale." In a word, Orenstein is brilliant. Her analysis of this fairy tale, which incorporates scrutiny of human interaction, history, gender relations, gender roles and gender politics, changing societal norms, and much more, takes this fairy tale and all fairy tales to a whole new level. This is not your kid’s fairy tale.

Read more... )

Fairy tales all have morals, and this one’s message has changed with the times. Don’t have sex, little girls, or you’ll suffer. Obey your mom, don’t talk to strangers or stray from the path, or bad things will happen. A man will save you in the end. A woman’s rightful place is in the home. While we think of fairy tales as timeless and constant, in fact they change as our cultural mores change.

As Charles Perrault wrote the story, RRH gets eaten by the wolf, which is a metaphor for a man seducing an innocent girl. Thus wolf is a seducer. As the brothers Grimm wrote it, RRH talks to a stranger but is saved by the woodsmen, a Victorian tale of women’s and men’s roles. More recently, feminists take the Perrault moral one step further, as a parable of rape.

But one of the most fascinating parts of the book is when Orenstein studies the character of the wolf, and how it has changed over the years.

What are we to make of the fact that the wolf dresses in female clothes? Wolf as a transvestite? Or that his stomach bulges with grandma and RRH, making him look pregnant – and thus the freeing process is analogous with a caesarian section, a birth.

(In a Gary Larson cartoon, the wolf lies on a psychiatrist’s couch and says, “it was supposed to be just a story about a little kid and a wolf. But off and on I’ve been dressing up as grandmother ever since.”)

RRH is an unusual fairy tale heroine, because unlike Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, she doesn’t marry in the end. Modern versions of the tale, in ads and other media, often portray her as an alluring vixen, the wolf no longer the seducer but the one being seduced – or that RRH tames the wolf. Then there is the feminist perspective of fairy tales, where the passive, often abused and imprisoned woman just waits to be rescued and married by the man.  (In fact, the ones who are proactive don’t get married). Men, meanwhile, seem attracted to living corpses (think of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty).

I know I've rambled a bit here, but I just wanted to throw out some of the more tantalizing bits of this book.

I’ve always been fascinated by fairy tales. Now I’m inspired to find more books like this one.

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Background: Passover is when Jews celebrate their ancestors’ escape from slavery in Egypt. There is a “script” for the seder, and specific foods prepared and eaten in specific ways, with lots of symbolism for each food and step.

I customized it only in a few, key parts, using Galactic Heroes figures. I had borrowed a children’s Hagadah from my friend Eve, and followed its script – which resulted in one of the world’s shortest seders, at about 30 minutes.

First, one of the components of the seder table is a special cup filled with wine for the prophet Elijah. The hope is that Elijah will come and announce a time when all people will be free, but for now he’s out of sight. At my seder, guarding Elijah’s cup was Obi Wan, since he too is out there in the wilderness.

On the seder “table” were all the Galactic hero figures, lined up looking quite cute.

A key component of every seder is the four children. The Torah commands us four times that we must teach children about the Exodus from Egypt. These four commands suggest that there are four kinds of children, each of whom learns in a different way.

This is what I did:

(Holding up Yoda): The wise child says, “Know I want the meaning of all these rules.” This child is proud to be a Jew and is interested in sharing experiences that are important to Jews. We answer this child by teaching all the rules of Pesach.

(Holding up Anakin): The wicked child says, “Why do you bother with all these rules?” This child does not include himself in this question and acts like a stranger when attending a seder. We answer this child by saying, “had you been in Egypt at the time of the Exodus, you would not have been included when God freed our ancestors from slavery.” (At this point, the Anakin figure is placed with his back to the seder plate.)

(Holding up C3P0): The simple child says, “What is this all about?” this child needs to understand basic facts. We answer this child by saying, “we do all these things because God freed us from slavery.”

(Holding up Han “don’t tell me the odds” Solo): For the child who does not even know enough to ask, we explain that “Passover reminds us of what God did for us when we left Egypt.” This child needs to learn about Judaism.

The seder then goes into the Exodus story, how a new evil Pharoah (hold up Palpatine) was afraid of the Jews, turned them into slaves, and wouldn’t let them free until Egypt was visited by 10 plagues. In the children’s book I used, the illustration shows the Pharaoh holding out his arm, finger pointed, with lightening bolts coming out of his eyes. He looks enough like Palpatine that Kelly was convinced that the whole idea for SW came from this story (and yes, we think Lucas is Jewish).

Amy and Rich took photos, but I'm still awhile from having the time to sort through mine. I finally unpacked and went grocery shopping this afternoon -- but now I'm off to work.
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Very long, so behind a cut. Go Read more... ) ...
First, some impressions.
Favorite Mary quote (OK, since I hardly saw Mary I will describe it as my only Mary quote): When Tim Zahn tells her to breath, she says, “No, I don’t want to dilute the adrenaline with oxygen.”

I got to dress Padme. And carry a Wookiee. And watch Darth Vader get dressed.

I got to see George Lucas. Sitting in the second row, with a group  CJ friends, including Rich (who got in amazingly enough – thank you again Mary!) What a special experience! Not the seeing-George part – seeing it with our Star Wars family.

The musical was awesome. I loved walking around the con overhearing strangers say – and the musical is really funny.

Avoided the 7 minutes of footage, because I didn’t want to be that spoiled and figured the movie was coming out in just a few weeks and I’d rather spend my limited time elsewhere.

Got dressed as a diva with boa and tiara and had my picture taken by strangers as I posed with my fellow divas. Now that’s never happened to me before. We definitely need to dress up as divas more often. We all looked awesome. I especially liked Nancy’s light-me-up tiara.

Saw some amazing costumes. One guy was dressed so perfectly as Anakin that the archivist took a picture of him. There was an Elvis Han Solo. Marilyn Monroe Jedi. Tie died stormtrooper. Twileks. Lots of Padmes and Obi Wans and Boba Fetts and Darth Vaders and Leias. A little toddler girl made the most adorable R2D2. Little girls in Leia buns and white dresses.

And I can verify that PG wore a sign and talked to kids. Mary works magic.

OK, I’ll try to do a rough chronological order:

I arrived late Tuesday night, and went to the convention center at 8 am Wednesday. Given the strict security, it’s amazing I got in (only people with badges were being allowed in, and since all the badges were inside the building, it became a Catch 22.) Mary asked Caroline and I to distribute the Elite Volunteer badges, and in the process I made friends with Denise the security guard (she called me Miss Susan). This paid off the next day, when she let Rich in early.

Caroline and I dressed the Padme manequin, watched Vader being dressed, and were greeted by Denise and Trace who paid a visit. The two Lucas film women in charge of the archives, Dinah and Jennifer, were really nice and great to work with. Caroline and I had lunch with Dinah, Jennifer, Trace and Denise in the very civilized café at Nordstrom’s, missing Cyndi.

It was after lunch that I roamed through the empty convention center and bumped into Cyndi, Bobbi, Tim and Anna. We went over to the 500 ballroom and found Beth and Mary (whose cellphone had run out of juice, so she plugged it into a wall to talk). Security had tightened up, so Beth had to escort Bobbi to the bathroom. That’s when we first saw Nancy and Diane, who gave us an enthusiastic greeting.

Wednesday night we went to the reception at the CIII store, when I saw most of the other CJers like Kelly and Trina and Aaron and many others. Many CJers first bunked down at a table and ate finger foods and chatted. We waited until the lines became reasonable before buying merchandise. Almost everyone bought a Yoda sweatshirt (well, I didn’t, but everyone else did).

Thursday, Denise the security guard let Rich in, and he slunk against a wall to be as inconspicuous as possible. Just as the doors opened, I headed to the exhibit hall – as did every other CJer. Apparently none of us were scheduled to work. I saw Paula, Nancy, Deb, Beth, Liz, Denise, Trace, Diane, Cyndi, Kelly. We were calling each other on our cell phones. Especially in the effort to get Beth a Legolas Ken (with real hair!). Did she actually buy one?

Off to the archives: the first couple of days attracted the more fanatical fans. There was one guy in there for more than four hours, who was taking pictures of every square inch of some of the models, over and over and over again. I finally asked him what he was doing, and he said he was a model builder.

The next day, a threesome who had been there for hours on Thursday returned. By then, we were under pressure to let more people through to reduce the lines, so I had to ask them to leave (once they’d been there for at least an hour). The guy balked, and I had to threaten to get a stormtrooper to kick him out. He left.

On the first day, I noticed a woman studying the costumes in such great depth that I figured she had to be a costumer. Turns out she runs Padawan’s Closet, a web site I had recently browsed through a link on Caitlin’s site. I introduced myself, we figured out our mutual connection to Caitlin, and I gave away a little tidbit about Padme’s outfit – and thrilled her so much that I was videotaped describing it.

Also on the first day, three British women came in, one clutching two 12-inch Obi Wan’s to her chest. Running to the mannequin of Obi Wan, she exclaimed – “I could lick him!” After listening to their squeals, I introduced myself and we exchanged exploits – we dress our vinyl boyz, so do we, we’ve posed them in front of the Kinsey Institute; we’ve posed them in front of the White House, etc. Turns out they are part of an 800-member group called, I think, the slushies. I must have gotten the name wrong, because a Google search came up empty.

Watching the security guards at the entrance to the archives was amusing – they were not SW fans and so somewhat perplexed by the whole thing. The guard the first day, Beverly, asked me to take her picture with Darth Vader, and then mail it to her.

Met someone from the 501st of New England, who tried to enlist me. No thanks, no interest in wearing armor.
Thursday night was opening ceremonies, and how I got in was amusing. It started at 8:30 pm, my shift ended at 8 pm, and the line had started forming who-knows-how-many hours before. This was before word had spread that volunteers could get into events with no problems and that there was special seating for us. When we got to the room, there was a mass of people behind a security barrier, and on the other side the line of people going into the room. The mass of people seemed impenetrable. We turned back, and ran into Phil. As we pondered our fate, we saw Tim Zahn, who had to get backstage for the opening ceremonies but was prevented by this block of humanity. I offered to show him the back way (thank you Cyndi), but that meant a fair bit of walking. Just as we turned around, Tim sees Jeremy Bulloch, who also needs to get backstage. “Follow me,” says the erstwhile bounty hunter. It was quite amazing – Jeremy plows through the crowd, which parts like the Red Sea before him, followed singlefile by Tim, Anna, Rich, Caroline, Phil and me. Once we got through, Tim and Anna headed back stage and the rest of us blended in with the line of people heading into the ballroom. The opening ceremonies were loud; we gave Mary, Tim and Aaron enthusiastic screams of approval but we were so far back I know they didn’t hear us. And Aaron’s shirt was very – ah, colorful.

Friday – a blur. I know that’s when Dinah and Jennifer decided they needed additional volunteers to help staff the room. Rich agreed to help out, and became a volunteer. That’s basically how he managed to get in to see Lucas. He’s not a Mary’s minion yet, but we’re working on him.

We all ate dinner out on Friday night, all 45 or so of us (and thanks to Aaron for saving seats for me!). We were spread out over four tables. We sang Happy Birthday to Cyndi. It was pouring rain and thundering quite loudly out. I skipped the 501st party, and obviously missed seeing a dolled-up Dunc, which I regret.

Saturday was wake-up early and get wrist-bans to see Lucas. The weather had turned freezing, and we sympathized for the devoted fans who had spent the night. On Saturday night, I had a Star Wars seder, and was joined by Amy, Kelly, Trina and Bobbi. More details on that will follow.

The advantage of my schedule was that I had enough free time that I could do some other things. The disadvantage was that I had to stand for hours acting as a security guard. The archives was a very relaxing place to be considering the crowds and craziness outside.

The author’s panel on continuity was packed and really interesting (and where I ran into Heather). How am I going to read all the new books! One of the more amusing moments was when someone asked if there would be an accurate map of the galaxy released, and if a geek had already developed one where should he send it.

Someone asked whether the original group – Luke, Han, Leia – would ever be killed off. I think it was Sue Rostoni who answered, very definitively, that Luke will not be killed off. However, she did not mention Han or Leia. Hmmm. Someone suggested a book giving Darth Vader’s perspective of the original trilogy, which could be interesting.

I went to a panel with the conceptual artists, and another with the guy who did pre-animation. Also saw the first few minutes of Matt Stover’s panel on the novelization of the movie.

My experience as a volunteer was clearly different from the average CIII goer. (I browsed some of the complaint boards at out of curiosity). There were some problems with the event.

First, the store. There were people who spent an entire day on line to buy a $15 action figure. Gen Con didn’t have enough cash registers or enough merchandise, and the temps hired to run the cashiers were apparently idiots. Gen Con mishandled the store big time. (Of course, many of these buyers just turned around and sold the figures on eBay for huge profits, so in those cases I don’t feel sorry for them since they profited from their wait.)

Second problem was the program. There was not enough information about workshops or events for people to decide what to do. When a workshop is described as “Dan Gregoire – vision” most people have no idea who Gregoire is and what he does. As a result, his seminar was only one-third full. I know what “SW Musical” means, but I’m sure many people didn’t.

Good things: the programming was excellent. Many stages, many rooms: there were lots of choices of things to do, which meant that unlike CII, there weren’t many events that were so crowded people got turned away. I think the opening ceremonies were one of the few things that people got bumped from. Of course, there were really long lines to get into the center, but I’m not sure what to do about that. The center only has a limited number of doors. Most of the rooms used were really big, with ample seating, so there was plenty of space for plenty of people.

Also good was the way the volunteers were treated. We didn’t have to wait on lines, and we got preferential seating. Unfortunately, this information was not conveyed to the volunteers promptly, so many of us didn’t learn about it until later on in the convention.

I had to leave very early Sunday morning (4 am wakeup call). It hadn’t occurred to me to fly separately from Rich and Caroline and stay until Monday. Oh well – too late.

When we got home and saw a white and black van, Rich exclaimed that it looked like a stormtrooper.

Whew. Report ended! Overall, I had a great time and I miss people already.


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March 2012

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